Sick, Off-Message and Playing Defense with Less Than 60 Days to Go: Clinton's Disastrous September
By Niall Stanage, The Hill
Hillary Clinton’s health problems — and, in particular, the shocking video of her being helped into a van on Sunday — are the worst developments yet for a campaign that has hit a serious rough patch.
Before the health drama, polls were already tightening, and the Democratic presidential nominee had delivered a semi-apology for asserting that half of Donald Trump’s supporters came from a “basket of deplorables.”
Democrats aren’t in full-on panic mode just yet, but they are worried that a race that had looked comfortable only a few weeks ago is now seriously competitive. And they expect to be on edge for much of the next week, until the first polls appear indicating how Clinton’s battle with pneumonia is affecting the contest.
The incident seems sure to further antagonize the media as well, because Clinton aides had derided reporters who raised her health as an issue, and the campaign was less than transparent about Sunday’s events.
The video of Clinton in a state of near-collapse on Sunday was “terrible,” Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf acknowledged.
“The idea of her appearing to be out of physical control reinforces Trump’s argument about her capacity and it reinforces the question of whether she is hiding something,” Sheinkopf added.
Tobe Berkovitz, a Boston University professor who specializes in political communications, said that on a 1 to 10 scale, with 10 being the most damaging, the video footage rated “a 15.”
Berkovitz added: “No matter what you say and no matter how you say it, everyone sees the presidential nominee basically collapsing, almost on the street. When you are saying, ‘I want to be commander in chief and I have the toughness and the strength to lead America during trying times,’ well, you don’t want to see that person being carried into a van.”