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The Daily Trail: Trump advisers huddle with the RNC on strategy

Waging a multi-front offensive. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Hillary Clinton is facing challenges from both the left and the right.

Both of those challenges are coming from Donald Trump.

"On a series of issues ranging from free trade to foreign military intervention, Trump is effectively running to the left not only of his own party, but also to the left of Clinton," reports Jose DelReal.

"For weeks, Trump has openly praised [Bernie] Sanders, crediting the Vermont senator for raising questions over the former secretary of state’s judgment on campaign finance, trade and foreign policy. He has also pointed to Sanders’ questioning of Clinton’s qualifications as a sign that the topic is fair game.

"'NAFTA has been one of the great economic disasters. Who signed it? Clinton. Clinton,' Trump said at a rally in Lynden, Wash., on Saturday, referring to the North American Free Trade Agreement, which was actually signed by George H.W. Bush but implemented by Bill Clinton. 'It has destroyed, I’ll tell you what, it’s destroyed our country as we know it.'

"The line of attack poses an unusual and vexing challenge for the Democratic front-runner, who has already spent months embracing increasingly liberal positions in her primary fight with Sanders. After jockeying to win over voters on the left, the Clinton campaign is now tasked with pinpointing the best way to attack Trump — an ideological moving target who sometimes switches positions within the space of a day — while also reaching out to moderates and disaffected conservatives."

To put the challenge another way: Clinton isn't just on the receiving end of the usual attacks a Democratic candidate faces from a presumptive Republican nominee for shifting to the left during the primary season — she's facing hits by an ideologically flexible GOP campaign that's echoing much of that primary season criticism too.

Like Trump, Sanders has regularly warned about what he believes are lopsided benefits of global trade deals, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which was brokered by the Obama administration. After heavy attacks from Sanders last year, Clinton announced her opposition to the deal despite praising it while secretary of state.

Sanders and Trump have both blasted Clinton for her 2003 vote in favor of the Iraq war; for her role in the 2011 military intervention in Libya; for her ties to wealthy Wall Street donors; and for her overall qualification to be president.

“He’s been tough on her. In fact, I’d like him to keep going because the longer he goes the more I’m going to like it,” Trump said last month in Harrisburg, Pa., the first of many such comments. “So Bernie Sanders, not me, said she is not qualified. So now I’m going to say, ‘She’s not qualified.’ OK?”

We already know how Clinton wants to take Trump on this fall (at least, as of now.) Abby Phillip reports on the where and the who:

"In the fight for the votes of suburban women, there is no more representative place than Loudoun County, the ticket-splitting bedroom community in swing state Virginia that Hillary Clinton visited Monday — and no better foil for her argument, perhaps, than Donald Trump.

"Affluent suburban women are a key audience for Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, as she seeks to use Trump’s polarizing statements about women, immigrants and others against him... [in a] bellwether county that narrowly supported President Obama’s reelection in 2012 and helped elect a Republican critic of Obama, Rep. Barbara Comstock, to Congress two years later. ...

"The district is ground zero for Virginia and perhaps for the nation in the general election, said Dan Scandling, a Republican strategist who was chief of staff to Comstock’s longtime predecessor, Republican Frank R. Wolf.

"'You have upwardly mobile, younger professional women,' who moved to Loudoun County for good schools and more affordable housing than in the closer-in suburbs that are more reliably Democratic, Scandling said.

"Although many suburban women identify as Republican or independent, they often vote on the kinds of pocketbook issues Clinton is emphasizing in her presidential bid — workplace flexibility and fair pay for female workers, accessible health care, and affordable college tuition.

"These voters have long displayed a willingness to look past ideological bright lines, and this year that could favor Clinton, whose open courtship is a bet that women who would not support her otherwise will be driven there by Trump."

Suburban women aren't happy with Trump, per the latest surveys. Here is a shortlist of some of the conservatives who aren't thrilled with him either as the week begins:

"John McCain's former chief economic adviser was among the economists and GOP deficit hawks saying again that Trump should rethink the debt-reduction ideas he's floated over the past few days, none of which reflect the traditional Republican approach of entitlement reform and spending cuts. Instead, they found more to dislike Monday morning, when Trump told CNN "he never meant to suggest that the United States default on its sovereign debt and accus[ed] the media of misrepresenting him.

"'I'm the king of debt. I understand debt probably better than anybody. I know how to deal with debt very well. I love debt,' he said.

"Just what he was suggesting remained unclear, however. Trump said the U.S. government could repurchase some of its current debt at a discount, as private businesses do, but... went on to give a couple of reasons why this strategy would not serve any financial purpose in the context of federal economic policy.

"'...This is the United States government,' Trump said. 'You never have to default because you print the money, I hate to tell you. Okay, so there’s never a default.'"

Speaking of John McCain: the Arizona senator wants Trump to publicly back down on his statements last year about prisoners of war. Facing a tough reelection fight — in part because of Trump — he's in the mogul's corner at the moment (more or less), by necessity. But he said he needs to hear a few things from his party's presumptive nominee before he'll think about hitting the trail with him:

"I think it's important for Donald Trump to express his appreciation for veterans, not John McCain, but veterans who were incarcerated as prisoners of war," McCain said yesterday.

"What he said about me, John McCain, that's fine. I don't require any repair of that. But when he said 'I don't like people who were captured,' then there's a great body — there's a body of American heroes that I to see him retract that statement, not about me, but about the others."

Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore — who isn't the only evangelical leader troubled by Trump's rise — would like him to reverse course on a host of fronts. (Yesterday, Moore characterized Trump's approach as "reality TV moral sewage.")

—And Paul Ryan — who told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel he'd be happy to step down as the GOP's convention chair if Trump asks — just wants him to say something at their Thursday meeting that, to the speaker, sounds recognizably Republican, according to Ryan mentor Bill Bennett. 

"It’s not at the level of specific policy. It’s not about immigration. It’s not about trade. It’s not about this tax proposal or that tax proposal," Bennett said in a podcast posted Monday. "It’s at the level of principle... There are certain principles that define the Republican Party. First principles. Is there agreement there? Can there be, will there be agreement there?"

Top Trump advisers made a fresh move for Republican unity Monday; they spent much of the day at private meetings with top RNC leaders in DC, "where they began to coordinate the party’s strategy and operations for the general election," reported Robert Costa.

"Topics addressed during the Capitol Hill talks included finance, communications, opposition research, field organization, and data sharing, according to several Republican officials familiar with the sessions.

"Trump campaign attendees included campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, convention manager Paul Manafort, deputy campaign manager Michael Glassner, and national political director Rick Wiley. The RNC was represented by Chairman Reince Priebus, strategist Sean Spicer, and finance chairman Lew Eisenberg, among others.

"The officials said that Eisenberg’s presence, in particular, and his willingness to engage with the Trump campaign, was notable since he is a longtime establishment Republican fundraiser who is taking the lead on ensuring that the party has the money necessary to fully compete across the country."

That wasn't the only Trump finance development, as the campaign looks to build a fundraising operation essentially from scratch: Top Republican fundraiser Anthony Scaramucci, who served as a national finance co-chairman for Mitt Romney's 2012 campaign and for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's 2016 campaign, has signed on.

Someone who does not like Donald Trump: Former Mexican president Vicente Fox, who publicly apologized last week for a profanity-laden attack on the presumptive nominee's proposal to build a wall between the United States and Mexico, and invited him to visit Mexico.

Trump responded on the trail by crediting Fox for his latest comments. Today, Fox responded to his response:

In other overseas news, conservatives across the pond are weighing in:

#CAMPAIGNFASHIONREPORT: What sort of merchandise do you offer when you're looking ahead to a potential fall matchup with a populist? This, apparently.

Bernie Sanders is uniting Democrats! This weekend, he helped one of his campaign staffers propose to his girlfriend (click below, or here, for the video message):

(Sanders: "Hector has a question for you!...He’s a good guy, why don’t you help him out?")

TRAIL MIX: Yes, Trump is historically unpopular right now — but favorability numbers do change, notes Philip Bump.  

—Whether or not he can climb out of that hole, his campaign is already getting started on plans for a Trump administration, announcing that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will chair its White House transition team. (To answer the obvious question: presidential transition prep is sort of like the holiday shopping season; there's been steady calendar creep. So: Yes, it begins now.)

—If the new president isn't Donald Trump, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said his GOP colleagues may have a sudden change of heart on President Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, with Garland potentially winning quick confirmation in the lame duck session.

—Marco Rubio officially took himself out of the Trump veepstakes: "While Republican voters have chosen Donald Trump as the presumptive GOP nominee, my previously stated reservations about his campaign and concerns with many of his policies remain unchanged," he said in a statement. "He will be best served by a running mate and by surrogates who fully embrace his campaign. As such, I have never sought, will not seek and do not want to be considered for Vice President. Instead, I will focus my attention on representing the people of Florida, retaining a conservative majority in the Senate and electing principled conservatives across the country."

—Last week, Donald Trump told West Virginia voters they should just stay home Tuesday, because he didn't need their vote anymore. There are several reasons this was a bad idea. Here is another one: Ted Cruz's supporters are reportedly looking to control the platform and rules processes at the convention this summer.

—Journalist Julia Ioffe — who received anti-Semitic threats after writing a profile of Melania Trump — has filed a report with the D.C. police department.

—If any conservatives follow through with the idea of launching a new presidential campaign to challenge Trump and his Democratic opponent this fall, they'll either need to woo a minor party, or write off all the electoral votes in the state of Texas: the deadline for filing to appear on the ballot as an independent presidential candidate was today.

—Mark your calendars: The new AP Stylebook lands June 1. Get excited!

—Donald Trump has a new Twitter nemesis: Elizabeth Warren. (Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton's not taking the bait on his 1990s scandal attacks. Yet.)

YOUR DAILY TRAIL PIT STOP: It never occurred to us that the United States would select a "national mammal." If it had, we would have assumed that the winner would be "humans," if only because humans would presumably be the ones doing the selecting. But no! As you may have heard already, the new national mammal is the bison, who are apparently having a moment.

Here they are, doing the sorts of things bison do.

The National Bison Legacy Act, which designates the bison as the first national mammal of the United States, passed the House on Tuesday, April 27 and is expected to get Senate approval this week. Here's why the bison is a great, symbolic choice. (Video: Monica Akhtar/The Washington Post)