GWEN IFILL: And with 50 days left until Election Day, we turn to Politics Monday with Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report and Tamara Keith of NPR.
Tam, let’s talk about what the candidates had to say on the attacks. First, we hear Hillary Clinton trying to sound knowledgeable and Donald Trump trying to sound strong. Which of them wins the day on days like today?
TAMARA KEITH, NPR: And this is really a microcosm of the campaign.
Donald Trump comes out, and he says things that are big and bold and in some ways controversial, saying maybe we need to bring back profiling and profiling at mosques possibly, and says that ISIS wants Hillary Clinton to win.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton comes out and says, I was in the Situation Room, I have all these plans, I’ve got a plan for ISIS.
And this is the way the campaign goes, you know, day after day after day.
GWEN IFILL: And yet, Amy, you write this week that when Hillary Clinton trips and falls, stumbles, it’s because she’s encountering headwinds of her own making.
AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Yes, I think that this race right now is coming down to the structural advantages that Hillary Clinton has, but she has some enthusiasm problems.
Donald Trump is trying to face off the structural disadvantages. And unpacking that, what I mean, is, yes, she’s had a very tough week, and — or actually maybe a week-and-a-half.
GWEN IFILL: Couple weeks, yes.
AMY WALTER: Yes, couple weeks.
GWEN IFILL: Couple weeks.
AMY WALTER: Whether it was her off-the-cuff statements at the fundraiser about basket of deplorables, whether it was her health scare and the sort of not being up front about what it really was, but also that Donald Trump himself has not given her much fodder over the last few weeks.
He has been much more disciplined. And you’re seeing Republicans starting to come home and getting more enthusiastic about him than they were when the focus was on his self-inflicted wounds.
Now that the focus is on her self-inflicted wounds, you’re seeing that diminishment of enthusiasm from her supporters. And Tamara has talked about this as well, the young voters. That’s who Hillary Clinton was talking to up in Philadelphia today. Clearly, she’s got a problem in getting those voters who supported Barack Obama, who don’t like Donald Trump.
But right now, they are splitting their votes between Hillary Clinton and the third-party candidates.
GWEN IFILL: Tam, I read somewhere today — perhaps it was you — that in fact part of the reason for her problem with millennials is because they see her as kind of a hawk.
TAMARA KEITH: That is one issue.
And, of course, news like today doesn’t necessarily help with that, because then she’s talking about her time in the Situation Room, where she was one of the people encouraging the president to go for it with the bin Laden raid. Of course, that turned out in a way that is a positive story for her.
I spent a lot time today on the Temple University campus talking to college students and recent grads about Hillary Clinton. And I met one Trump supporter. Everyone else who I talked to is sort of in the camp of, well, I guess I’m with her, which is the challenge.
She needs to find a way to get them a little more enthusiastic. Instead, there was a lot of, well, I’m more afraid of the other guy. I heard that a lot, a lot of lesser-of-two-evils type of talk.
GWEN IFILL: There is no question, Amy, that there is an enthusiasm gap. This is now well-documented in all these polls.
But why is it that when it seemed — it’s perceived that Hillary Clinton has stumbled, she immediately pays a price in the polls, and when it’s perceived that Donald Trump has stumbled, as when he suggests that maybe the Secret Service could drop their guns and see what happens, Hillary Clinton’s Secret Service, he doesn’t seem to pay that same price?
AMY WALTER: Though I would argue that when the focus is on either one of them and the things that they have said that become much more controversial, that you will see the polls move up and down.
When the focus was on Donald Trump and his attacks on the judge who is overseeing the Trump University case and his Mexican heritage, you saw the numbers spike up, he went down, she went up. When you saw after the Republican debate, where the focus — I mean, not the Republican debate — the Republican…
GWEN IFILL: Convention.
AMY WALTER: … Convention — thank you — where the focus was all anti-Hillary Clinton, you saw her numbers go down.
After her bad week with the FBI director coming out, her numbers went down. When he made the focus about the Gold Star family, his numbers went down.
GWEN IFILL: So, there is an actual…
AMY WALTER: It’s actual — this is a crazy race.
Both of these candidates have decided to make the race a referendum on the other person, the other person being worse. So, when that spotlight focuses on your opponent, and you say, see, look how terrible they are, your side gets excited. But when it comes to you, then the other side gets excited.
GWEN IFILL: Tam, let me read to you something the president said at a fundraiser in New York last night about Hillary Clinton.
He said: “We as a society still grapple with what it means to see powerful women. And it still troubles us in a lot of ways, unfairly,” basically playing the gender card that Hillary Clinton has made a part of her stump speech.
TAMARA KEITH: Yes.
And he goes on to say that if this race is tight, it’s not because of Hillary Clinton’s flaws.
I think that, back to what Amy is talking about, there’s also how the two candidates are judged. Hillary Clinton is judged as a politician, as someone who’s been in public life, who is careful, who is measured, who gives a lot of speeches, who is a politician.
And Donald Trump is often judged on the standard of someone who hasn’t been a lifelong politician, someone who’s new to public life, who has done reality TV and has been an entrepreneur.
And the president labels that sexism. Other people label it other things. There is a dynamic there that is — it’s there.
GWEN IFILL: And actually the campaign is happy to label it sexism as well, as far as I can tell.
But let me give — take an example of something that we talked about a lot today. The president was at the U.N. General Assembly, a lot of conversation about refugees and about what the U.S. responsibility should be to refugees, especially from Syria.
And, once again, we’re back at the dichotomy we saw at the beginning, toughness vs. empathy, I suppose. And I wonder, does that — does the way these two candidates — do the way that these two candidates respond tell us something, Amy?
AMY WALTER: Well, Hillary Clinton definitely wants to make this race a referendum on temperament. And Donald Trump wants to make it a referendum on change, and big, bold change.
Now, the country itself is sort of torn. It is, I think, slightly leaning toward change, this idea of, after eight years of one president and the anxiety that a lot of Americans are feeling about the status quo, wanting to sort of shake things up. But they’re nervous about what that would look like.
So, he wants to definitely keep that focus on shaking it up, being the big and bold candidate. Her only option is to say that big and bold is too dangerous, and so stability is the answer, because she’s not the big and bold candidate. She’s not the new candidate. And she’s not the change candidate.
GWEN IFILL: Well, Tam, we know for sure that the alleged suspect in today’s — in yesterday’s — the weekend’s bombings is not a refugee, but he is — was a nationalized citizen from elsewhere.
And I wonder if that elsewhere, the opposite, makes it difficult for Hillary Clinton to defend?
TAMARA KEITH: Well, I think that it is a challenge for her because, you know, she talks about vetting and we need good vetting of people who come to this country.
And often her plans that she talks about are not quite as satisfying as sort of a Trumpian, well, we’re going to fix this and — or we’re going to blow them out of whatever, or — the things that she says, because she, you know, has been part of the Obama administration just generally, you know, don’t have the same splash as what Donald Trump would say.
GWEN IFILL: Yes.
AMY WALTER: And I would also say who — where you sit is — determines how feel about these issues.
This was a Quinnipiac poll. Are you concerned about being a victim of terrorism? Trump supporters, 68 percent said yes. Clinton supporters, 29 percent believe they are going to be a victim of terrorism. So, they both are also speaking to their base.
GWEN IFILL: And if vetting is a solution, how do you vet someone who came to this country at 7 years old? So many questions. But we’re done with them for this week on Politics Monday.
Tamara Keith, Amy Walter, thank you both very much.
TAMARA KEITH: You’re welcome.
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