Is Clinton making gains in voter enthusiasm?

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U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally at the Colorado State Fair Grounds in Pueblo, Colorado, U.S. October 12, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson - RTSRZXC

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JUDY WOODRUFF: And now we turn to a supporter of Secretary Clinton.

Guy Cecil is the co-chair and chief strategist at Priorities USA. It’s a Democratic political action committee, or a super PAC.

Guy Cecil, thank you for being with us.

GUY CECIL, PRIORITIES USA ACTION: Thanks for having me.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Kellyanne Conway says there is a clear path for Donald Trump to win this election. They’re going after the, she said, 10 or 11 states that Barack Obama won, states that they think they can peel away from the Democrats.

Do you see that?

GUY CECIL: I don’t.

I think it’s incredibly difficult, for a couple of reasons. Number one, when you take a look at the battleground states, they are states that are rich in diversity, high percentages of African-Americans, of young people, of Hispanics. And it’s going to be very difficult for Donald Trump to make a case to those voters.

It’s also true that, in battleground states like Virginia and Colorado and North Carolina, a higher percentage than the national average are white college-educated voters. And for the first time in 40 years, a Democrat is actually leading among those voters in the polls.

And so there are quite a few paths for Hillary to become the nominee. She starts out with an Electoral College advantage, and the reality is, there is a very narrow path, almost impossible path for Donald Trump to be successful.

JUDY WOODRUFF: She did make the point that there is a lack of enthusiasm, though, on the Democratic side for Hillary Clinton. You don’t see voters as excited as they were for Barack Obama.

In fact, I was in Georgia two weekends ago, in North Carolina this week. You don’t see — you certainly do see support for Hillary Clinton. Some of it is not as enthusiastic. How do you deal with that?

GUY CECIL: I do think some of that is changing.

I mean, Hillary was at a rally in Ohio just this week where 18,000 people showed up. But, more concretely, when you take a look at states where there are absentee ballots or early voting or voter registration still going on, you actually see the results of increased enthusiasm among Democrats.

For example, there’s been a significant increase among African-Americans pulling an absentee ballot request in North Carolina. For the first time in history, there are more registered Democrats in Colorado than there are Republicans. And we’re seeing in Ohio today lines in early vote locations that are in typically Democratic areas.

So, I know that there was a hangover from both primaries, but, as we get closer to the election and our voters are starting to tune in, you’re seeing the enthusiasm gap drop between the two campaigns.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Guy Cecil, is there a danger, though, at this point of overconfidence?

We’re reading today that Hillary Clinton, that her campaign is putting resources or planning to put resources into traditionally red states like Georgia, like Utah. Is that a sign — could that be too much confidence about how this election is going?

GUY CECIL: No.

Look, if you look at the operations that are actually on the ground in the battleground states, the Clinton campaign has it covered. It doesn’t mean there is not more work to do. But there was a New York Times story just this morning that said that Republican polls actually show Hillary Clinton leading today in Georgia.

I expect we will see polls show her leading in Arizona. And so, from my perspective, we should be expanding the map as significantly as possible. And I do think that’s in marked contrast to where the Republicans are currently playing.

They are defending a lot of territory they absolutely must win, states like Utah, for example.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You don’t think there is a danger of overconfidence?

GUY CECIL: No.

I think Democrats typically operate in one condition, and that is abject panic about the election. And I suspect, even though we’re having a pretty good week, that it will continue that way through the next four.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What about something else, Guy Cecil, that Kellyanne Conway brought up? And that is, when I asked her about the tape involving, the audiotape, the “Access Hollywood” — involving Donald Trump, she brought up what she described and what many describe as a lack of honest on the part of Hillary Clinton, about — she talked about naming and shaming women when it comes to Bill Clinton’s infidelities back in the 1990s and since, about Whitewater.

She brought up a number of things. How much of a liability is that for Hillary Clinton? I mean, the polls show trustworthiness continues to be an issue for her.

GUY CECIL: Sure.

Well, first of all, I think you can look at the past as prologue. Many of these same attacks were tried against Bill Clinton. And 1998 was the only year that a second-term president didn’t actually lose seats in Congress. Why?

Because these attacks don’t work. And the idea that you would attack a woman for the mistakes of her husband and that the messenger of that attack would be Donald Trump, who has spent the last year-and-a-half lying to the American people, I think it’s just not a realistic argument. And Trump is certainly not the right messenger to carry that argument to the American people.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, meantime, we have what appears to be a daily or every-other-day leaking from — a publication of e-mails from WikiLeaks from the Clinton campaign, from — and the most recent ones, John Podesta, the campaign chairman.

We saw some of the language today had to do with a Clinton campaign staffer communicating with people at the Department of Justice about the e-mail — Hillary Clinton’s e-mail problem while she was secretary of state, language about Catholics, evangelical Christians.

Isn’t this a constant drag on the campaign’s ability to get its story out?

GUY CECIL: Well, I think it’s important to take one step back on this point, which is that you have a foreign government that is trying to interfere with our elections, number one.

Number two, the campaign, nor the press has actually validated that these particular e-mails are entirely true. And so I think it’s important to look at this with some degree of caution.

However, even if you were to say that they were all true, the conversations over e-mail between campaign staffers pales in comparison to what we have seen revealed about Donald Trump just over the course of the last two weeks.

Hillary Clinton rolled out this week a plan that would increase credits for child care, that would allow poor people to access child care so they can get out of their condition and find jobs.

At the same time, Donald Trump is talking about Bill Clinton, talking about Paul Ryan, talking about things that the American people don’t care about. So, ultimately, I believe Donald Trump will never allow this election to be anything other than a referendum on Donald Trump.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Guy Cecil, the chief strategist at Priorities USA, thank you for being here.

GUY CECIL: Thanks for having me.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Appreciate it.

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