DES MOINES, Iowa – It’s no day at the beach, but Hillary Clinton is having the political equivalent of a quiet August.
Donald Trump may be dominating the political chatter as he reboots a trailing campaign, but it’s Clinton who’s winning positive headlines during visits to some of the most competitive states in the presidential race.
The Republican nominee’s constant state of campaign chaos is dulling the impact of stories about Clinton’s emails and allowing her to spend plenty of time raising money behind closed doors.
“I think she’s actually smart to stay quiet at this time. She’s not a popular candidate with the Democrats. She has a lot of negatives herself. There’s a lot of news that could be made about her,” said Rick Tyler, a former aide to Ted Cruz, the Texas senator and onetime Trump rival.
But, Tyler said, it’s all “getting subsumed by the black hole candidate that is Donald Trump.”
A disastrous stretch for Trump has helped solidify Clinton’s lead in national preference polls and most surveys in closely contested states. Clinton campaigned in Ohio and Pennsylvania this past week, and the Democratic nominee’s voter registration efforts and policy pitches went largely unnoticed as Trump shook up his campaign staff.
Trump’s reshuffling also overshadowed fresh stories about Clinton’s use of a private email account and server as secretary of state.
Clinton’s campaign has carefully courted journalists in the communities she visits, pushing tailored policy messages. For example, stressing her plans to respond to the Zika virus in Florida and how she’d support manufacturing jobs in Detroit.
After an appearance in Ohio on Wednesday, the top headline the next day in the Plain Dealer in Cleveland read, “Clinton Tears Trump Plan to Cut Estate Tax,” while the New York Times’ main campaign story focused on the tumult in the Trump campaign.
“If the Republicans are spending their time attacking and fighting each other, it gives you a little bit more liberty to go out there and articulate your message. They’re not necessarily offering a counterargument,” said Chris Lehane, a Democratic strategist who worked in Bill Clinton’s White House. “It gives you more real estate in a more uncluttered way to break through.”
Her campaign has been hard at work in the battleground states, eyeing the start of early voting in some places next month.
Clinton gets into the details at her events, plugging registration and urging people to cast absentee ballots.
“If you aren’t registered and you’re eligible, see the persons with the clipboards here,” Clinton said during a recent event in Kissimmee, Florida. “We want you to be registered, and then we want you to be part of this campaign.”
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