US Elections 2016

Clinton targets white male sceptics

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said Republican rival Donald Trump is, 'unqualified to be President, and unfit to be Commander in Chief.'
A section of the crowd at a Clinton campaign rally in Pittsburgh, which lies in the Rust Belt where blue-collar jobs have evaporated. Mrs Clinton has sought to appeal to white males by summoning the full range of folksiness, signing autographs on hard hat
A section of the crowd at a Clinton campaign rally in Pittsburgh, which lies in the Rust Belt where blue-collar jobs have evaporated. Mrs Clinton has sought to appeal to white males by summoning the full range of folksiness, signing autographs on hard hats and talking up her red-blooded culinary tastes. PHOTO: NEW YORK TIMES

Her campaign is out to charm that section of voters, who prefer Trump by a 2 to 1 ratio

HATFIELD (Pennsylvania) • Mrs Hillary Clinton would like to discuss some football. "My dad played football at Penn State," she reminded a crowd here. "My brother played football at Penn State."

Mr Bill Clinton stood sentinel among his wife's chief sceptics - the voters who look like him.

During her first bus tour since accepting the Democratic nomination - a whirl of iron, hard hats, factory dust and US flags across the Rust Belt states of Ohio and Pennsylvania on Friday, Saturday and Sunday - Mrs Clinton has rumbled through the heart of white male resistance.

There is no group that views her with greater antipathy.

A New York Times/CBS News poll two weeks ago found that white men preferred her Republican opponent Donald Trump almost two to one: 55 per cent to 29 per cent.

White women were split at 40 per cent each.

She appeared here with her two top ambassadors to white men: Mr Clinton and her running mate, Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia.

  • Republican congressman is first lawmaker to break ranks; says he'll vote for Clinton

  • WASHINGTON • A Republican lawmaker in the United States Congress has become the first to break with his party over the White House campaign, denouncing presidential candidate Donald Trump as unfit to lead and pledging to vote for Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

    The break followed a dispute between Mr Trump and the parents of a Muslim US Army officer killed in the Iraq war that has fuelled fresh unease among many Republicans over the New York businessman's policies and style.

    In an op-ed piece yesterday, Representative Richard Hanna of New York cited Mr Trump's attacks on the parents, calling the candidate "deeply flawed in endless ways", "unrepentant" and "self-involved".

    "For me, it is not enough to simply denounce his comments: He is unfit to serve our party and cannot lead this country," Mr Hanna wrote in the letter posted on syracuse.com, the website of the Post- Standard newspaper.

    While some lawmakers have not actively endorsed Mr Trump, Mr Hanna was the first to say he would vote for Mrs Clinton in the Nov 8 election.

    Mr Trump has criticised Mr Khizr Khan and his wife Ghazala since they took the stage at last week's Democratic convention. Mr Khan cited their son Humayun's military service and sacrifice and criticised Mr Trump's proposed temporary ban on Muslims from entering the US.

    Many Republicans have expressed support for the parents in recent days and some have sharply rebuked Mr Trump, most notably Senate Armed Services Committee chairman John McCain, a military veteran and former prisoner of war.

    Mr Hanna is retiring from the House and is not seeking re-election, giving him more leeway to risk upsetting colleagues and voters over his break with Mr Trump.

    Mr Hanna wrote: "While I disagree with her on many issues, I will vote for Mrs Clinton. I will be hopeful and resolute in my belief that being a good American who loves his country is far more important than parties or winning and losing. I trust she can lead."

    In the fallout over Mr Trump's dispute with the Khans, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan have also supported the family. Still, top Republican lawmakers have not withdrawn their support for Mr Trump as the party's presidential pick.

    REUTERS

Clinton allies believe that they, along with Vice-President Joe Biden, are best positioned to make her case to wary audiences.

And she has summoned the full range of folksiness, signing autographs on hard hats and talking up her red-blooded culinary tastes.

In interviews in recent weeks, undecided white male voters described a persistent, visceral dislike of Mrs Clinton, lamenting her links to President Barack Obama, her desire to increase gun restrictions and what they see as her consistent aversion to the truth.

"Stop fibbing," said Mr Ted Schaible, 61, when asked what could persuade him.

Still, he agreed that Mrs Clinton's jobs-focused speech had included some appealing touches.

The campaign is generally underperforming relative to Mr Obama's 2012 numbers with white men, so aides believe there are still minds to be changed. But she is outperforming Mr Obama with white women.

In particular, the campaign is targeting college-educated whites, a group that Republican Mitt Romney won four years ago.

Across regions where blue-collar jobs have evaporated, Mrs Clinton is attempting a delicate balancing act: insisting she is not satisfied with the economy even as she defends Mr Obama's work.

On Monday, it was Nebraska, home state of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who campaigned alongside Mrs Clinton and challenged Mr Trump to release his tax returns. Mr Trump has said he cannot until the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has completed an audit.

"Now I've got news for him," said Mr Buffett. "I'm under audit, too, and I would be delighted to meet him anyplace, anytime, before the election.

"I'll bring my tax return, he can bring his tax return... and let people ask us questions about the items that are on there."

He said Mr Trump was "afraid", not of the IRS, but of voters.

Mr Trump has also asserted his success as a businessman, but Mr Buffett said Mr Trump lost money the only time he went to the people and asked them to invest.

He said that was in 1995 when Mr Trump listed his Trump hotels and casino resorts on the New York Stock Exchange. He said the company lost money every year for the next decade.

On the Republican side, Mr Trump's rhetoric grew darker on Monday after a new CNN poll showed Mrs Clinton ahead 52 per cent to 43 per cent.

Criticising Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders' endorsement of Mrs Clinton, Mr Trump said: "He made a deal with the devil. She's the devil."

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2016, with the headline 'Clinton targets white male sceptics'. Print Edition | Subscribe