Friday 21 October 2016

Book ringside seats now for Trump vs Hillary battle royale

Niall O'Dowd

Published 19/04/2016 | 02:30

Hillary’s camp appears very confident of a big win in the New York primary tonight. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Hillary’s camp appears very confident of a big win in the New York primary tonight. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Bill Clinton was quoting the 1916 Irish Proclamation at a rally for African-American and Latino union workers last week.

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He praised the document for its inclusiveness, especially the phrase to "cherish the children of the nation equally", which is what the former president believes the next president has to do in America.

He said the Proclamation was ahead of its time in acknowledging women, which is also a major issue in the American election, given Donald Trump's misogyny and constant insults.

Women have responded in kind, bestowing a massive 70pc disapproval rating on Trump, assuring that he can never win a general election unless he gets that number down. Trump is still hogging the headlines as media outlets, especially CNN, continue to go in the tank for him, no matter how outlandish the remarks. (A recent CNN headline blared: 'Trump defends size of his penis').

Bill Clinton has taken a very different role. While Hillary does the big events, Bill is on the coalface with the unions, the ethnic groups (he has done two Irish events in New York in the past week) and the smaller activist groups that he charmed during his time in the Oval Office and his two campaigns for president.

Bill Clinton loves nothing better than to ad lib and weave connections of disparate groups together during speeches.

He has a remarkable mind. He can do the 'New York Times' crossword in 20 minutes, even while talking on the phone, and he weaves the ethnic connections of New York easily together.

It is a common struggle, he is saying, the Irish who fought for freedom and the modern-day effort to keep African-Americans and Hispanics in their place with threats such as those Trump aims at Hispanics and indirectly at African-Americans.

In closing his speech to the labour union workers, Clinton quoted William Butler Yeats, calling him the greatest poet he knew and reciting the lines "too long a sacrifice makes a stone of the heart", saying that people had run out of patience and were tired of the inequality and unfairness of the system.

Clinton has been using the 1916 Proclamation quite frequently in recent weeks after reading an original copy at the Irish America Magazine Hall of Fame in Manhattan soon after St Patrick's Day. It encapsulates the message he wants to send, that equality in any era involves the same struggles and hardships until they are achieved, whether they are Irish in 1916 or women and racial minority groups now. Clinton is happy as a clam playing his role as his wife's surrogate. He loves being on the campaign trail and adores the adoration of crowds.

But his core message is sharp and focused. If you want equality, vote Hillary. If you want the status quo and a lot more, vote Trump or Cruz.

The argument about income inequality is the one the Democrats en masse will present to the electorate this November. It is the blunt message from Bernie Sanders and the slightly more couched language of Hillary Clinton.

Hillary's camp appears very confident of a big win in the New York primary tonight. She is on home turf, where she was a very popular senator. She has a mutual love affair with New York City, with its rich vein of African-American and Hispanic voters, who are hugely loyal to her.

On the Republican side, Trump leads in his home state against a bible belter in Cruz and a no-hoper, Governor John Kasich. Trump is streets ahead, so much so that he and Hillary have begun casting long-range fire at each other as they look at the general election likelihood that they will face off after the smoke clears.

Last weekend, Trump bestowed his nickname on Hillary, just like he did on Ted Cruz (Lying) and Marco Rubio (Little Marco). Trump has called her "Crooked Hillary", hoping to draw her out.

But in a preview of how a general election between the two may go, Hillary stayed on message and focused on policy.

"I don't respond to Donald Trump and his string of insults against me. I can take care of myself. I look forward to running against him if he's the Republican nominee and if I am the Democratic nominee," the Democratic presidential front-runner said on ABC's 'This Week'.

"What I am concerned about is how he goes after everybody else," Clinton said. "He goes after women. He goes after Muslims. He goes after immigrants. He goes after people with disabilities. He is hurting our unity at home. He is undermining the values that we stand for in New York and across America and he's hurting us around the world."

Right there you have the outline for what will likely be the general election campaign after the primaries. With expected big victories in New York for Trump and Clinton, that seems to be the inevitable pairing, despite all the hoopla around a brokered Republican convention. Both are expected to win another key state, Pennsylvania, the following week.

The race is starting to look more predictable as the time shortens and the selection conventions loom in July. It will be worth paying for a ringside seat, especially when the debates begin, if it is Trump and Clinton. That battle likely begins in earnest after New York.

Irish Independent

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