In a normal election, the past four days for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign would be somewhere between “really, really bad” and “just plain disastrous.”
On Monday — 15 days before the election — came the news that the average premium for those on the federal market in Obamacare would rise 25 percent in 2017 and that 1 in 5 people in the federal marketplace would have only one option to “choose” from in terms of coverage plans. For a candidate like Clinton, who has linked much of her candidacy to the policies of the Obama administration, that's a very bad thing.
On Thursday — just 12 days before the election — the WikiLeaks hack of top Clinton aides' emails produced a 13-page memo from Doug Band, a close adviser to former president Bill Clinton, that outlines — in no uncertain terms — how Band used the former president's stature (and the chance to spend time with him) to leverage donations to the Clinton Foundation. Write WaPo's Roz Helderman and Tom Hamburger:
Band detailed a circle of enrichment in which he raised money for the Clinton Foundation from top-tier corporations such as Dow Chemical and Coca-Cola that were clients of his firm, Teneo, while pressing many of those same donors to provide personal income to the former president. ...
The memo, made public Wednesday by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, lays out the aggressive strategy behind lining up the consulting contracts and paid speaking engagements for Bill Clinton that added tens of millions of dollars to the family’s fortune, including during the years that Hillary Clinton led the State Department. It describes how Band helped run what he called “Bill Clinton Inc.,” obtaining “in-kind services for the President and his family — for personal travel, hospitality, vacation and the like.”
That. Is. Bad. It looks and feels like trading access to the former president for donations to the Clinton Foundation. Which isn't illegal but sure suggests that the hard line the Clinton campaign has tried to draw between the Clinton Foundation and the Clintons is much more like a semipermeable membrane.
The story is bad not only because it, well, looks bad but also because it reinforces so many of the negative things that the average person already thinks about the Clintons. They think the rules don't apply to them. They use their government service to feather their own nests. They surround themselves with people who obsequiously cater to their every need — no matter whether it's the right thing to do or not.
(For what it's worth: This is the same reason the Clinton email server issue has lingered for so long — and done so much damage. That story and this one reinforce so many of the preconceived notions — and negative ones at that — about the Clintons and how they do business.)
Donald Trump, to his credit, quickly moved to capitalize on both the Obamacare rate hikes and the Clinton Foundation story. He tweeted out the WaPo story earlier Thursday to his nearly 13 million followers.
The issue for Trump on the Clinton Foundation story is, as always in this campaign, Trump. Not only has he — through a series of self-inflicted wounds — badly damaged himself as a messenger but he also has issues with his own foundation as well. The race, as it has taken shape since the summer, has become a referendum on Trump, not Clinton. That's amazing given her fame and notoriety. And it's a very bad thing for Republicans hoping to win the White House.
Stories like this one on the Clinton Foundation coming this close to an election would be a massive blow to most campaigns in most elections. In this one, Clinton's momentum is slowed but not stopped by it. Remarkable.