Boston Globe and Bloomberg News journalist Joshua Green had some breaking news to share on Thursday’s Breitbart News Daily about the stark difference in negative campaign ads endured by Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in their respective primaries.
To get a sense of how the Republican and Democratic primaries differed, Bloomberg News consulted with a media tracking firm and asked, “How many dollars of negative ads were run versus Donald Trump in the Republican primary, and how many were run against Hillary Clinton?”
“The disparity could not have been more striking,” he said. “Sixty-two million dollars in ads run against Trump, zero in attack ads run against Clinton.”
Green noted such an imbalance in negative advertising was unprecedented. “Back in 2008, the last time the Democrats had an open primary, you had Hillary Clinton hitting Barack Obama with the famous ‘3 a.m.’ ad, and there was a lot of kind of back-and-forth,” he recalled. “This time, nothing. No attacks. So essentially, Clinton got through the Democratic primaries unscathed.”
Green thought this was not necessarily good news for the Democrats.
“I think there are two schools of thought on this,” he said, adding:
If you talk to Republican strategists, they will say, “Look, Hillary Clinton has had zero dollars in negative ads run against her, and her favorability numbers are only marginally better than Trump’s. Once we start running ads, they’re gonna fall even further, and she’s in real trouble.”
“The Democratic sort of counter-claim – and I do put some stock in this – is that, look, it’s better to come out of a primary with your reputation, your political reputation intact,” he continued. “Look what happened to Mitt Romney in 2012, when Newt and Rick Perry branded him a ‘vulture capitalist.’”
SiriusXM host Stephen K. Bannon noted that Clinton’s Democratic rival Sen. Bernie Sanders went decidedly more negative against her in the final days of his campaign, while 72 percent of his supporters say they do not trust her, leading him to conclude that her political reputation is not intact. He noted Green’s revelation that the lack of primary attack ads against Clinton was as stunning as the complete absence of media questioning she faced for the Clinton Cash revelations.
Bannon said that Clinton and her surrogates do not seem well-prepared to deal with the trustworthiness issues she was never hit with during the primary, based on some embarrassing stumbles they have made lately.
Green countered by citing Bill Clinton’s re-election in 1996, and noting, “You don’t necessarily need to be considered trustworthy to get elected president.”
“The problem she has, I would say, is sort of the flip side of the Trump problem,” he suggested. He continued:
Trump got through the Republican nomination because Republicans didn’t want to make a lot of the attacks that Hillary is going to make. The flip side for this is the fact that Bernie didn’t attack Hillary on her secret Goldman Sachs speeches, and on this Clinton Foundation stuff, and on the emails, means that we still have five months to go where there is gonna be a candidate who’s gonna raise those issues.
Green predicted that if Trump can “show the discipline and the wherewithal to not go berserk attacking, you know, judges with Mexican heritage, and if he can train his fire on the Clinton message that the party wants him to talk about – on the Clinton Cash message, basically – then I think he could potentially do a lot of damage to her, and you could see those negatives rise even higher.”
“It only takes one thing from Trump, and that is self-discipline,” he stressed. “It’s the one thing he hasn’t exhibited a lot of.”
“Look, the minute you open your mouth, if you’re Donald Trump, and you talk about Trump University, or a Mexican judge, or something like that, the media are gonna flock like moths to a flame and cover that, and they’re not going to cover Hillary Clinton,” he warned. “This is the big complaint that Republicans justifiably had when the IG report came out on Hillary’s email. Did anybody pay attention to that?” he asked, then answered himself: “Not really because they were so busy talking to Trump about the judge and listening to Trump double down, and triple down, and quadruple down on these attacks.”
Green said he personally found the IG report against Clinton stunning, but the “Trump Effect” causes him to “dominate news coverage,” for better and worse.
“We’ve been seeing that since basically last summer,” he observed. “The downside of that is, the media only covers what comes out of Trump’s mouth. And if he’s not talking about the IG report, if he’s not talking about Hillary Clinton’s email, then that’s not going to get the type of wall-to-wall coverage that you want to see happen, if you’re a Republican.”
Bannon envisioned the 2016 election as “the heavyweight title match, in living memory, of two candidates who are both heavyweights and not afraid to go to places other people that maybe have more decorum won’t go.”
“Oh, absolutely, absolutely,” laughed Green. “That’s what’s so fascinating about the race, and that’s the thing that really does scare a lot of Clinton strategists about Trump,” he said. “Any traditional Republican candidate, you basically know the parameters of the possible attacks. With Trump, it could be literally anything, and that’s hard to prepare for.”
“It’s also hard to drive your own message, if you’re Clinton and the Democrats, because at any moment, Trump could open his mouth and say something that is going to completely wipe out whatever it is that you think you want to talk about,” he added.
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