The sirens are ringing. The fear is rising. And panic is beginning to settle in with some Democrats, as Donald Trump continues to rise in the polls. Clinton’s lock on the Electoral College has been chipped away and broken in the past month, with more news about her emails and the foundation coming to light. She also had a medical episode at the 9/11 Memorial on the 15th anniversary of the attacks. Video of the former first lady being dragged into a van after stumbling off a curb upon leaving the ceremony early was blasted all over the news. Questions about her condition and her whereabouts circled for 90 minutes, until we found out that she went to her daughter’s apartment and was diagnosed with pneumonia two days before the memorial event. The latter was never disclosed to the press. That, coupled with the horrific response time from the campaign, rehashed the rumor mill on what else Clinton is hiding, feeding into the narrative that she’s overly secretive. Even Obama’s former top advisers noted the former secretary of state’s penchant for secrecy is creating unnecessary drama and public relations obstacles.
“It’s not about health, it’s about stealth,” noted David Axelrod.
Well, it’s taken a toll for Clinton’s election chances. Now, President Obama plans to get heavily involved in the election campaign for his successor. Remember, Obama really, really wants Hillary to be elected. And has even gone so far as to shame black voters into voting, saying that their lack of participation would be viewed by him as a personal insult for all that he’s done for us over the past eight years. He, like many Democrats, was confident that Trump couldn’t be elected. That’s obviously changed, as more key swing states are moving towards the Republicans. Mike Dorning at Bloomberg has more:
Barack Obama is about to launch a presidential campaign blitz for Hillary Clinton unprecedented in the modern era, pledging a dramatic commitment of time and resources to a contest he now unabashedly frames as a referendum on his personal and political prestige.
Obama plans to devote at least one to two days each week in October to campaign for Clinton through rallies, targeted radio and television interviews, social media outreach and fundraising, said an adviser who requested anonymity.
Obama’s involvement comes at a critical time, with enthusiasm for Clinton lagging behind support for Obama among the young people and minorities who helped power him to the presidency. At the start of the campaign, Clinton’s camp once questioned how closely to embrace Obama but now her aides are eager to have his help.
In a memo outlining requests to Obama political aide David Simas late this summer, the Clinton campaign asked the president to concentrate on six states -- Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Iowa and New Hampshire -- said a White House aide who has seen the memo. The White House is planning an itinerary along those lines but is attempting to preserve as much flexibility as possible within the logistical constraints of presidential travel to accommodate adjustments as the campaign unfolds, the aide said.
Now, Politico did report in September that a final push between Clinton and Obama camps was being hashed out:
Now, according to people familiar with the matter, the White House and the Clinton campaign are deep in talks for how to make such a moment happen again, perhaps more than once, in the closing weeks before Election Day — and perhaps in the midst of early voting that’s about to kick off in states that Clinton’s looking to lock in well before Nov. 8.
Obama will focus on four states: Pennsylvania, plus Ohio, North Carolina and Florida, with the possible addition of Iowa, depending on how much opportunity Clinton campaign officials see there as they finalize their map.
Yet, as Obama enters the fourth quarter of this game, it’s no longer about locking in states, it seems to be about keeping them from going to Trump. It’s about trying to get Democrats excited about Clinton, which has been a struggle. It’s now a rescue mission, that isn’t nearly as fun, and as Guy wrote—the Clinton camp is trying to quell the panic. But the reality is that Obama, Clinton, and the Democrats’ main hurdle to not only get their base enthused for Hillary, but convince the sizable portion of party members that have gone into the Green and Libertarian Party camps to come back home. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) pretty much laid partial blame on third party candidates for sinking Hillary’s election chances, which is ridiculous since a) third parties have just as much a right to pick someone to run for president; b) Democrats aren’t entitled to people’s votes; and c) if Democrats are going third party, the fault solely rests at the feet of Hillary Clinton for being a horrible candidate. Is Trump a solid candidate? No—but he’s driving enthusiasm on his side and Clinton is more distrusted than Trump. In fact, some surveys showed Trump leading Clinton on the question of being more honest by a two-to-one margin. As of late, young people remain skeptical of buying into Clinton. The Washington Post reported that Clinton’s mistakes have made the Obama White House nervous:
White House officials have privately fretted about some of Clinton’s recent missteps, said supporters of the president who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the issue frankly. Those mistakes and the narrowing polls have only intensified the president’s focus on the campaign, these officials said.
In remarks in recent days, Obama has cast the election as central to his legacy, essentially placing himself on the ballot with Clinton.
Still, it’s no sure bet that Obama’s popularity (he’s at 52 percent) is going to be transferred to Clinton. In fact, we’ve seen that it won’t be, with First Lady Michelle Obama’s first campaign stop for Clinton in Fairfax, Virginia last week being dotted with chants of “four more years” from supporters. If that’s the case, then it’s possible that all the Obama offensive to help Clinton might do is boost his approval numbers, especially with Democrats, and attendance at Clinton rallies, but only show support and affection to him, not Hillary. Then again, given where Clinton is right now—she needs all the help she can get on the ground and in the media. All eyes are on both Trump and Clinton for the first presidential debate on September 26. Trump and Clinton need solid performances to pull ahead of one another, to convince voters who are on the fence, or who have fallen away, to possibly come back into the fold. Both need to touch every voter they can over the next few weeks. Let’s see if this Obama rescue mission is going to be an asset in that goal.
Yet, Clinton’s position still confirms one thing that was evident in 2008 and now; she’s a horrible campaigner. She wasn’t able to defeat a barely one-term U.S. senator from Illinois with her wealth of knowledge and experience in public life, and now she could blow it against one of the most unpopular nominees of a major party in recent memory. And because of that, President Obama, who reportedly has a complicated relationship with his former secretary of state, is being tossed in to hopefully drag old, sick Hillary to victory since she obviously can’t seal the deal.