Donald Trump is planning targeted character attacks on Hillary Clinton during the general election campaign – including in TV debates – over her husband’s infidelities, Benghazi security lapses, her investment history and email practices, The New York Times reports.
The assaults will aim to drive up her negative poll ratings and bait both the candidate and former President Bill Clinton into making political mistakes, according to the Times – and how she handles the offense may prove more important than her political resume.
“Trump is yet another way she will be tested personally — one of her greatest tests yet.”
Trump tells the Times his line of attacks will be strategic.
“Just getting nasty with Hillary won’t work,” Mr. Trump said. “You really have to get people to look hard at her character, and to get women to ask themselves if Hillary is truly sincere and authentic. Because she has been really ugly in trying to destroy Bill’s mistresses, and she is pandering to women so obviously when she is only interested in getting power.”
Trump said though a House committee failed to publicly discredit Clinton’s judgment in its hearings, he’ll be more pointed, the Times reports.
Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon predicted it won’t work.
“From Rick Lazio to the House Benghazi committee, there’s a long line of Republicans who set out to personally attack Hillary Clinton but ended up inflicting the damage on themselves,” he said in a statement to the Times. “We know Donald Trump is the most unconventional of them all, but no matter what he throws at her, she will keep running her own campaign and won’t hesitate to call him out.”
ut Mark Penn, the chief strategist for Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, and the Harvard University Center for American Political Studies have polls indicating attacks could weaken her.
“The poll shows he could bring her vote down with sharp attacks.
Here’s how the Times breaks down the Trump assault:
- On Bill Clinton’s infidelities, Trump will re-emphasize that Hillary enabled her husband by staying with him and blaming the women involved. “We have to destroy her story,” Clinton said of one woman, according to the memoir of Mr. Clinton’s former adviser George Stephanopoulos, the Times notes.
- On questions of how Clinton managed in the late 1970s to turn a $1,000 investment in cattle futures into nearly $100,000 with little financial experience, Trump will focus on his theory that she’s “crooked.”
- On her use of her private email server while secretary of state, Trump will argue she showed poor judgment and had something to hide.
- On the attacks at a U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, Trump will emphasize she failed to respond quickly enough to the attacks that led to the deaths of four Americans.