ORLANDO, FLA. The emails are full of potential damage for Hillary Clinton. She weighed the political implications of policies. She is close to Wall Street. Her aides gathered information to discredit a woman who’d accused her husband of rape.
So how has she so far remained largely unscathed by the unprecedented release of hacked emails? It’s one part a deliberate strategy of casting doubt on the authenticity and distracting from the content of the emails, one part fatigue by Americans who already have seen tens of thousands of Clinton’s emails and one part a whole lot of luck.
With Clinton leading in both national polls and battleground-state surveys, the Democrat is in some ways trying to run out the clock on the election.
The WikiLeaks emails do threaten to reinforce voter doubts about Clinton’s honesty. But her strategy – refuse to confirm the authenticity of the emails, blame Russia for the hack and say little else – has so far successfully defused the impact by avoiding any talk that would keep voters looking at the content of the messages. Her undisciplined opponent has taken care of the rest.
“When you start explaining, you’re in trouble,” said G. Terry Madonna, the director of theFranklin & Marshall College poll in Pennsylvania. “They are handling it the best way they can. It’s about as an effective argument you can make.”
Clinton demonstrated her approach during this week’s final presidential debate.
When moderator Chris Wallace asked her about a particular email, for example, she shifted to Russia and Republican opponent Donald Trump’s praise of its leader, Vladimir Putin.