GWEN IFILL: For more on the fight between Donald Trump and the Khan family, his recent comments on Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, and Hillary Clinton’s weekend outreach to Rust Belt voters, it’s time for Politics Monday with Tamara Keith of NPR and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report.
You just heard Ghazala Khan say to Judy in response to the questions about Donald Trump’s feud, whatever it is, that, “I can take it.”
We have heard in the last few moments Warren Buffett on behalf of Hillary Clinton say, have you no decency, sir? You have made no sacrifice.
We heard John McCain also scold, but not withdraw his endorsement today of Donald Trump.
I wonder, starting with you, Amy, whether it’s ever a good thing to have to defend yourself by tweet?
AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: No, but at the same time, nothing about this campaign has seemed normal. Right?
The traditional candidate response to a speech like Mr. Khan gave would be to say, my condolences for your loss. Here is my differences of opinion on the policy of it, right? I differed with Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration on the war on terror. I differed with President Bush on going to Iraq in the very first place, even though he did say he supported it early on, when he invaded Iraq.
But that is the answer that a traditional politician would give. And, Gwen, I just feel I should just come out here with a tape recorder and just every week say, nothing that he does is like a traditional politician would ever do.
What we are seeing is, his supporters, I think, will continue to rally around him, but every day that this campaign is about Donald Trump and his messaging, which is not — which is about him and not about the bigger, broader issues, I don’t think that’s a good day for Donald Trump.
GWEN IFILL: Let’s flip the script a little bit.
Hillary Clinton, it seems to me, was asked about Pat Smith, the Benghazi mom, who spoke at the Republican Convention, and what was her reaction?
TAMARA KEITH, NPR: Her reaction was more the typical politician answer. It was, thank you for your family’s service. I can’t begin to understand your loss, that kind of thing.
And then she did get to the question of whether she remembered it the same way. But she remained respectful throughout, and you wouldn’t call it a feud.
That’s the difference is, in the way Hillary Clinton answered, it ended there. And look at George W. Bush. Cindy Sheehan was parked outside his ranch for a very long time protesting him, and George W. Bush…
GWEN IFILL: In 2008.
TAMARA KEITH: Was it — it was earlier. I think it was even maybe 2004.
GWEN IFILL: Yes.
AMY WALTER: Right. Right.
TAMARA KEITH: And George W. Bush said, that is her right, that is her right to protest, that is her right to say anything she wants about me, because this is America, actually.
GWEN IFILL: That’s what America actually allows for.
Let’s move on to something else Donald Trump had to say this weekend. He was asked on “This Week” by George Stephanopoulos about his views about Ukraine and Russia and his relationship with Vladimir Putin, and this was his response.
DONALD TRUMP (R), Presidential Nominee: He is not going to go into Ukraine, all right? You can mark it down, you can put it down, you can take it any way you want.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC News: He is already there, isn’t he?
DONALD TRUMP: Well, he is there in a certain way, but I’m not there. You have Obama there. And, frankly, that whole part of the world is a mess under Obama. With all the strength that you’re talking about and all of the power of NATO and all of this, in the meantime, he’s going away — he takes Crimea. He’s sort of…
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: But you said you might recognize that.
DONALD TRUMP: I’m going to take a look at it. But, you know, the people of Crimea, from what I have heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were.
GWEN IFILL: He said two things there that horrified foreign policy experts. One was that, in fact, Russia wasn’t already in Ukraine, which Ukrainians would — the government we back in Ukraine disagrees with, and also that somehow Crimeans think it would be OK for Russia to stay there after having been annexed.
And then he came out today and said, that’s not what I meant.
AMY WALTER: That’s not what I meant at all, right.
So, he tweeted back out, that’s not what I meant at al. What I meant is, when I’m president, they won’t do anymore in Ukraine. But it’s the Obama administration that failed in this.
Again, this is where he makes Hillary Clinton’s job that much easier. Her entire focus — you saw it at the DNC — you are going to see every day for the next 99 days — is to say that he’s temperamentally unfit to be president of the United States, he’s dangerous.
And it’s not just going to be one thing or another thing. It’s that this — if this happens day in and day out, this idea about his sympathies, whether it’s his sympathies to Putin, whether it’s his fight that he’s getting in with the Khan family, in the minds of people who are not already in a camp, polarized one way or the other, it sows enough doubt.
GWEN IFILL: But, on the other hand — always throws the on the other hand, Tam, which is, people are not going to decide who to vote for based on whether they think that, or are they, that Donald Trump is great friends with Vladimir Putin?
TAMARA KEITH: I think that the economy is far more of a factor for American voters than what happens in Crimea.
The sector of voters that are Crimea voters is probably not very large. So, going back to the Khan family and the feud with the Khan family, the question is whether this is the thing that pushes Donald Trump over the edge, whether this is the time.
GWEN IFILL: We have said that before.
TAMARA KEITH: And we have asked that many times, like with John McCain and various other things.
This seems more like the time that he mocked a disabled reporter than other — because these are regular people. These are civilians. These aren’t politicians that he’s going after. And we won’t know for a while, but focus groups showed that mocking a disabled reporter was the most resonant thing. It’s the thing that…
TAMARA KEITH: … and why it’s in an ads. And I just think that you’re going to see this in an ad.
GWEN IFILL: We saw both of them in the Rust Belt, Ohio, Pennsylvania, in the last few days. You were on the big bus tour, which must have been…
TAMARA KEITH: Exhausting.
GWEN IFILL: Exhausting, yes.
But I wonder what the candidates are doing now right out of their conventions, starting off on the general election, what this tells us about how they were received at the conventions and what they are trying to do next, Amy.
AMY WALTER: Well, to build on Tam’s point about the economy, this is another missed opportunity here for the Trump campaign.
On Friday, the news came out, GDP numbers terrible, were at like the second worst recovery since 1949. You’re supposed to go to the Rust Belt and make that case. See, the economy is not doing well under Obama, why would you let Hillary Clinton do it?
Of course, that’s not what we were talking about this weekend. We were talking all of these things. What Hillary Clinton was doing this weekend — Tam was on the bus and actually saw this, but if you look at the cities that she went, she went right into Trump country. And that’s not because she thinks she’s going to win there, but campaigns are as much as about winning over voters as it is not losing by a lot.
And she’s trying to narrow the margins. In those areas that Obama lost, she can’t lose by as worst percentage.
GWEN IFILL: And I know it’s too soon to talk about convention bumps, even though there are a handful of polls out today showing that she has some kind of a bump.
But how is this campaign then positioning itself to take advantage of whatever positivity they can get out of this negativity for their opponent?
TAMARA KEITH: They’re trying to hold their ground.
No matter what the bump says, I get the feeling that Hillary Clinton and the Clinton campaign is just going to keep plugging away. This is not a flashy campaign. This is the nitty-gritty work. I mean, they’re in Omaha, where there is one electoral vote that she could possibly maybe win.
GWEN IFILL: And that’s Warren Buffett’s.
TAMARA KEITH: And that’s where Warren Buffett happens to be, and that is where he is introducing her.
But they are doing the small ball, trying to win that way. Meanwhile, Donald Trump is going for the big splash, and this is a real test.
GWEN IFILL: Of which will work.
TAMARA KEITH: Of which will work.
AMY WALTER: Yes. Yes.
GWEN IFILL: Tamara Keith of NPR, Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report, thank you both.
TAMARA KEITH: You’re welcome.
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