Things seemed to be going so well for Hillary Clinton. Her strategy for the summer was to keep a deliberately low profile and focus on a little private fund raising. She didn’t need to attack Trump, he seemed quite capable of doing that himself as he lurched from one improbable outburst to another.
The Clinton plan was for a September offensive with a series of set piece speeches defining her vision for America and stretching her lead in the opinion polls. Then came her sudden departure from a 9/11 memorial ceremony and the delayed report that she was suffering from pneumonia. Suddenly she is vulnerable. The stories about her ill health have been around for years. Trump himself has called into question whether she is physically fit enough to run for president. If you believe the stories on the internet, she suffers from strokes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, HIV and seizures. She wears a nappy at all times, needs a body double to fulfil her public engagements and has one year left to live.
It’s all tosh of course, but it’s out there and this latest absence from the political field of battle just feeds the conspiracy fever and you should never underestimate how many rational people are influenced by conspiracy theory. They may not believe them entirely but they may not disbelieve them entirely either. And then there’s all those suggestions of corruption which won’t go away. The FBI investigations into illegal use of a home email server to transmit classified intelligence. The investigations into ‘gross negligence’ and providing ‘materially false information’, each of which carry a potential five- year prison sentence. There’s fresh Whitewater documents which are being released and will breathe new life into an old financial scandal. And there are those unfortunate remarks which Hillary Clinton made at a recent fund raiser in which she stated that ‘half his(Trump) supporters belonged in a basket of deplorables’.
Pretty tame you might well argue compared with Trump’s statements about Obama’s birth certificate being a fraud or Obama being responsible for founding Isis or about the need for Mexico to pay for the building of a much discussed wall. With just weeks to go how could Hillary Clinton possibly lose. It would be unprecedented, or would it? When Harry Truman was elected in 1948 most newspapers carried headlines saying he’d lost. His victory was so unexpected they’d not had time to reset the type. Jimmy Carter was an unheard of candidate who became president as was once Barrack Obama.
In the UK, few had heard of Jeremy Corbyn before he was elected as Labour leader and all the bookies were predicting that the UK would remain in Europe. Shock results do happen and despite his outrageous statements, despite the fact that so many vehemently oppose him, Donald Trump may just turn out to be the wrong man at the wrong time: the wrong man for America at the wrong time for Hillary Clinton.