Mon, Jul 18, 2016 - Page 7 News List

Hillary Clinton’s failure to inspire trust threatens her campaign

By Sahil Kapur  /  Bloomberg

Presumptive Democratic US presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton knows she has a trust problem, and it might be the biggest threat to her campaign for the White House.

She has tried using humility to fix it, deflecting blame and acknowledging mistakes, but so far none of her attempts have worked.

A growing majority of Americans say they distrust Clinton, and she is slipping nationally and in battleground states in match-ups with US presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump after the conclusion of an FBI investigation involving her handling of top-secret information as America’s top diplomat.

A New York Times/CBS national survey released on Thursday found Clinton’s six-point lead over Trump last month evaporating to a tie, with each garnering 40 percent support.

A whopping 67 percent of voters said Clinton is not honest or trustworthy, up five points from last month. Trump fared only modestly better at 62 percent, unchanged from the previous month.

A Quinnipiac poll released on Wednesday found Clinton’s comfortable leads in Florida and Pennsylvania last month narrowing to a dead heat, with Ohio remaining a tie — even as Clinton and her campaign spend millions on TV advertising in all three states. A key shift in the survey was that Clinton lost a large lead for having “higher moral standards,” while Trump widened his lead on who’s more “honest and trustworthy.”


The trust issue haunts Clinton, even against an opponent that some surveys show is the most unpopular in the history of modern polling. Questions of trustworthiness are as old as the Clinton brand itself — former US president Bill Clinton faced questions about his honesty in both of his campaigns for the White House, the result of a host of controversies including revelations during the 1992 primary campaign about his extramarital affairs and the investigation into into a land deal known as Whitewater, which also embroiled his wife.

However, Bill Clinton overcame the trust deficit with empathy. At the time, he consistently scored high in surveys when voters were asked whether he cared about their needs and problems. Hillary Clinton readily admits she does not have the same political skills as her husband. She has a modest empathy advantage over Trump, but neither scores well: A Fox News poll released last last month found that 45 percent of Americans said “cares about people like me” describes Clinton, while 35 percent said it describes Trump.

In recent weeks, Clinton has attempted to confront her shortcomings head-on.

“I personally know I have work to do on this front. A lot of people tell pollsters they don’t trust me. I don’t like hearing that and I’ve thought a lot about what’s behind it,” Clinton said on June 27 at the International Women’s Forum in Chicago.

She admitted making “mistakes,” which she did not specify, but also suggested she is misunderstood.

“Now, maybe we can persuade people to change their minds by marshaling facts and making arguments to rebut negative attacks,” she said. “You can’t just talk someone into trusting you, you’ve got to earn it. So yes, I can say the reason I sometimes sound careful with my words is not that I’m hiding something, it’s just that I’m careful with my words.”


FBI Director James Comey last week said that Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server as US secretary of state does not merit charges in a court of law, and US Attorney General Loretta Lynch concurred.

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