Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump reacts as he speaks about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's email issues during a campaign rally at the Sharonville Convention Center, Wednesday, July 6, 2016, in Cincinnati.
Photograph by John Minchillo—AP
By Ben Geier
July 7, 2016

In a typical presidential race, candidates go back and forth attacking each other, with both sides alert to attacks that merit a response. Sometimes it seems like opponents are engaging in a constant volley of verbal warfare. But this is not a typical presidential race.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton seems to be taking the position that if you give presumptive Republican opponent Donald Trump enough rope, he will essentially do all the damage to his candidacy that she could ever want or need. And Trump keeps proving her right.

On Wednesday evening, in a speech in North Carolina, Trump could have focused solely on the harsh criticism Clinton received for her handling of classified material as Secretary of State. Instead, he harped on the two latest scandals that have engulfed his own campaign. He defended his praise for former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein for his actions against terrorists. And he defended his tweet of an image of a Star of David over a pile of money in an ad that labeled Clinton as corrupt. He blamed the media for the uproar over the tweet, and went back on Twitter to further dredge up the controversy after his remarks.

Trump seems unable to focus on Clinton, instead taking on anyone who he feels has insulted him. Anytime Sen. Elizabeth Warren insults the presumptive Republican nominee, he focuses on her in his next speech. And it was reported Thursday that in a meeting with prominent Republicans, Trump insulted Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk, calling him a loser.

 

 

So far, Warren has been a highly effective Trump attacker for the Clinton campaign. Normally, the vice presidential candidate serves as the political attack dog, clearing the way for the presidential candidate to stay above the fray. But if Trump stays his course, Clinton may not need that kind of assistance.

Clinton has mostly let Trump do his own thing, picking her spots to criticize him, as in a speech she delivered Wednesday attacking his business record. So far, that strategy seems to be working—nearly every recent poll has Clinton leading.

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