Taking Back America

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22 toxic days for Hillary Clinton

Politico
By Annie Karni and Glenn Thrush | 10/16/16 04:18 PM EDT

The polls point to the promised land. But she’ll have to get past Trump and WikiLeaks first.

The final three weeks should have been an anxious but happy time for a Hillary Clinton team on the cusp of making history.

Her odds of victory, according to most prediction experts, sit north of 80 percent, and she has solidified modest but durable leads over Donald Trump in most battleground states.

But Clinton’s final sprint has become a joyless, nail-gnawing slog through Trump Tower’s moat of mudslinging — and the day-to-day worries of WikiLeaks’ dump of internal emails from campaign chairman John Podesta’s hacked account is taking a toll.

“This is making me tear up, it’s so infuriating and disgusting,” a Clinton aide wrote in an email halfway through the St. Louis debate, arguably the low-water point of a general election that has had few high-tide moments. “This is not our country.”

In Trump’s Mourning-in-America march to the abyss, he has rejected political norms, and his campaign has largely devolved into trashing Clinton, the women accusing him of sexual assault and harassment, the legitimacy of U.S. elections, the media, President Barack Obama, the GOP and the time-honored idea of a presidential campaign as a sunny, aspirational enterprise.

Even more unnerving is the release of stolen emails popping daily, like the morning paper hitting the driveway, from WikiLeaks — part of an effort Clinton’s aides believe is geared toward dividing her supporters, sapping her team’s morale, and distracting the media’s attention from Trump’s self-immolation.

All of this makes the last days of what is likely to be a winning campaign seem more like 22 weeks than 22 days.

“The goal of this is to create dissension between everyone,” said Neera Tanden, a close Clinton ally whose years of candid correspondence with Podesta are now uncomfortably on public display. “This is Russian psy-ops. That’s what they’re trying to do. The campaign is going to fight back against that, by not getting subsumed in dissension.”

Campaign aides and longtime allies aren’t the only ones getting bummed out. Bill Clinton is also “having a hard time,” according to a source familiar with his thinking, as he watches Trump revive the former president’s decades-old sex scandals in an effort to tarnish his wife, and was reportedly enraged when Trump paraded his accusers around the debate last week in St. Louis, even seating them in the front row. (An aide disputed both characterizations of his mind-set.)

Chelsea Clinton remains “very focused” on the email hack, livid at accusations hurled at her by a former Clinton aide, Doug Band, calling her a “spoiled brat kid … [who] hasn’t found her way and has a lack of focus in her life.”
 
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