Ed Morrissey is right; this is a nice catch by The DC's Chuck Ross, who reads past the bits of this Associated Press story about Team Hillary reveling in Trump's personal attacks (which we'll revisit shortly) and flags an interesting tidbit. Based on private public opinion research conducted by the pro-abortion group EMILY's List, the Clinton campaign has dropped its thematic focus on the candidate's status as the potential first female president. Why? Read for yourself:
Hillary Clinton stopped referring to herself as the potential “youngest woman president” during campaign stump speeches after polling showed that it was not helping with voters and donors. Hillary Clinton stopped referring to herself as the potential “youngest woman president” during campaign stump speeches after polling showed that it was not helping with voters and donors...According to the Associated Press, "Clinton dropped the reference after Emily’s List, a group that supports pro-abortion Democratic women and is backing Hillary, provided the campaign with a report showing that it did not help the former secretary of state. 'Clinton has stopped explicitly mentioning her role in history and joking about being the “youngest woman president.' That’s by design: Those kinds of direct appeals weren’t working with voters. 'De-emphasize the ‘first’ talk,' advised a research report done by Emily’s List. 'They already know she’d be the first woman president,' the report said of donors, 'but we don’t get anything by reminding them.'"
In other words, people are already aware of this dynamic and they don't especially care. Trump has ridiculed Mrs. Clinton, opining that the only asset she has going for her in the campaign is "the women's card." Though he may claim victory over this new revelation, it's highly unlikely that the Clinton camp will de-emphasize gender altogether. Gender-based appeals and attacks are a staple of the Democratic playbook, and Clinton's in particular. She also needs to win women decisively to beat her Republican opponent, who happens to have very serious vulnerabilities among the female electorate. Morrissey examines the "gender gap" issue in his post, which deals with some of the data we looked at yesterday that demonstrates Hillary's substantial lead with women has been effectively canceled out by her deep unpopularity among men thus far:
In 2012, Mitt Romney won male voters by a 52/45 margin, not far off from the NBC/WSJ result, while Obama won women 55/44. Both results are within the margin of error from the NBC/WSJ splits. In 2004, the numbers looked different but the overall gender gap was similar; George W. Bush won men 55/44 while John Kerry won women 51/48, for a gender gap of +8 to the winner. In 2012, the gender gap was +4 to the winner, and now it’s +4 to Hillary, who leads in that poll. So the issue may be less of “backfire” than of sheer ineffectiveness. The results from the Democratic primaries have already demonstrated that much, with Bernie Sanders competing well among women, and of late winning women on his way to a string of primary victories. Those trends began forming long before Trump started focusing his attacks on Hillary Clinton. The gender card does not appear to carry much weight even among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, so why would anyone think that it would have more impact among general-election voters? That shouldn’t have taken a study from Emily’s List (!) to figure out, but … that’s Team Hillary in a nutshell.
By the way, the overall thrust of the AP piece is how Team Hillary believes Trump's signature personal attacks will benefit her campaign over the arch of the general election campaign -- which reflects the concern I expressed yesterday. Here's their theory of how this will all shake out:
Hillary Clinton has a message for Donald Trump: keep on talking. She's just weeks away from wrapping up the Democratic presidential nomination, and friends, aides and supporters describe a candidate who isn't particularly rattled by what she expects will be Trump's increasingly direct attacks on her marriage and husband's personal indiscretions. In fact, Clinton believes that she can turn Trump's deeply personal assaults to her benefit, they say, particularly among suburban women who could be crucial to her hopes in the fall. Her plan is never to engage in any back-and-forth over the scandals. Instead, she'll merely cast him as a bully and talk about policy. "I don't care what he says about me, but I do resent what he says about other people, other successful women, who have worked hard, who have done their part," she told an audience in Louisville, Kentucky, this month. Trump has made clear that nothing is off-limits.
That sentence in bold confirms my contention that there's no way Hillary is burning the gender card altogether; it's her default setting, and it's irresistibly potent against Trump. It seems as though she'll strive to shrug off personal criticisms against her (allowing surrogates to savage him in response), but constantly remind voters of Trump's history of offensive women-related statements and conduct -- including nasty shots at Megyn Kelly, Heidi Cruz and Carly Fiorina, over the course of the GOP primary alone. As for Trump's attitude that 'nothing is off limits,' the billionaire has already taken direct aim at allegations of sexual assault against Bill Clinton, and will no doubt lean into the Clintons' connection to the revolting creep of "pedophile island" in the weeks and months to come. I'll leave you with the presumptive GOP nominee's latest tactic, raising the issue of decades-old conspiracies about Vince Foster's death while cynically asserting that he, er, wouldn't raise the issue:
He called theories of possible foul play “very serious” and the circumstances of Foster’s death “very fishy.” “He had intimate knowledge of what was going on,” Trump said, speaking of Foster’s relationship with the Clintons at the time. “He knew everything that was going on, and then all of a sudden he committed suicide.” He added, “I don’t bring [Foster’s death] up because I don’t know enough to really discuss it. I will say there are people who continue to bring it up because they think it was absolutely a murder. I don’t do that because I don’t think it’s fair.”
In fairness, this answer was in response to a question, but it's really quite something to watch this guy pretend to dismiss a topic as out of bounds, while branding it "very serious" and "very fishy." I won't discuss it in depth because it's unfair, but these other people certainly will, because they're convinced Vince Foster was murdered by the Clintons. He's practically begging people to Google it. As right-leaning Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson notes today, the man sure does love wild, reckless conspiracy theories.