1. What is Hillary Clinton’s general election campaign strategy going to be?
Pundits and politicians have described this election as a battle between the lesser of two evils. No candidate wants to be seen as the lesser evil, but Hillary Clinton has largely embraced the role in the recent weeks and months in light of polls that continue to show voters find her untrustworthy. Although Clinton has advanced a number of bold policy platforms in the recent weeks, including a free college tuition plan and a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, her central message has remained more anti-Trump than pro-Clinton.
Secretary Clinton has an important decision to make. She can work effortlessly to convince voters that she has a bold platform to move the country forward, or she can continue to elaborate on the dangerous potential implications of a Trump presidency. If she wants the liberal coalition of the Democratic Party, she’s going to have to advance a progressive agenda that adopts many of the policies that Bernie Sanders pushed during the primary. If she wants to convince voters in the center, an anti-Trump message could potentially be more effective.
2. Will Bernie Sanders fully embrace Hillary Clinton, or will he continue to express reservations?
When Sanders finally endorsed Clinton and they appeared together on the campaign trail, it seemed as if wounds had healed and Sanders was all in on campaigning for Clinton and keeping Donald Trump out of the White House at all costs. In the days since then the e-mails released by WikiLeaks on Friday in addition to Hillary Clinton’s moderate Vice Presidential choice of Tim Kaine have seemingly muddied the waters.
Sanders has indicated he will still fully support Clinton’s candidacy, but he expressed reservations about Clinton choosing a centrist VP. When Sanders addresses the crowd in Philadelphia on Monday night, he will be addressing millions of his supporters. He will have a choice to make between continuing to push for his political revolution and fully embracing both Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and policy agenda.
3. Look for Tim Kaine to continue impressing liberals
The left wing of the Democratic Party was very squeamish when Hillary Clinton announced Virginia Senator Tim Kaine as her running mate, and many still are. That being said, Kaine’s first appearance as VP next to Clinton on Saturday left many would be skeptics impressed. Kaine is largely portrayed as a boring career politician, but he came on stage with a burst of energy and delivered a powerful speech that espoused many of the values most near and dear to the hearts of liberal voters.
Tim Kaine’s biggest strength is one few anticipated; he speaks with the energy and natural fluidity that Hillary Clinton is lacking. Although Kaine has been a moderate throughout his career, he appears to be evolving on issues like abortion and free trade. Expect Kaine to deliver another powerful speech, as he looks to bring an exciting authenticity to a campaign that has struggled to energize voters.
4. The role of Bill Clinton could be a deciding factor in this election
Bill Clinton was a staple of Hillary Clinton’s campaign in many of the early states, as him and daughter Chelsea afforded Hillary high level surrogates to reach more voters. As the campaign continued, however, we started hearing from the former President less and less. After a couple of shouting matches with protesters that made headline news, Bubba disappeared entirely. That seemingly has to change if Democrats want to defeat Donald Trump.
Bill Clinton will give his speech Tuesday night as he looks to reinsert his influence in this race. The spouses of candidates always draw a lot of attention at party conventions, but none has ever had the prestige of being a former President, and a popular one to boot. With President Obama also speaking at the convention, Hillary Clinton finds herself with an enormous amount of firepower in her corner. That being said, Bill Clinton has been known to put his foot in his mouth during this election cycle. He will not only have to avoid making another mistake for the media to devour, he will have to reassert himself as the political power player he’s always been.
5. Protesters have the potential to make this convention an enormous headache for Democrats
Following the aforementioned WikiLeak’s email scandal and the announcement of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s resignation, the Democratic Convention is already off to a rocky start. To add to the drama, Bernie Sanders supporters have been organizing protest for months, and Philadelphia officials are anticipating between 35,000 and 50,000 protesters showing up each day.
While the Republican Convention in Cleveland came and went without any major incidents from protesters, Philadelphia presents an entirely different set of challenges in terms of scale. Security forces have been increased in the recent weeks to combat the planned protests, and Democrats will keep their fingers crossed for a peaceful and quiet convention.
6. How will Democrats address the recent strife between African Americans and the police?
The July 5th shooting of Alton Sterling and the subsequent killing of Philando Castile rocked the country as video evidence seemed to show both men were not a threat to officers at the time of their deaths. The following day five police officers were killed by Xavier Johnson in Dallas, and a little more than a week later three police officers were gunned down in Baton Rouge.
The turbulence and violence was seized upon at the Republican National Convention, and the messaging was quite bold. Donald Trump spoke of the need to restore law and order in the country, and positioned himself as the man to do the job. Democrat will need to counter punch with their own message on the issue, and in many ways their line is harder to draw.
While Republicans stood unapologetically with police officers, and by proxy in opposition to Black Lives Matter, Democrats have a tougher tightrope to balance. On the one hand, the Democratic Party has generally supported the BLM movement over the past year. On the other, President Obama and Hillary Clinton have always gone out of their way to stand with our police forces. African Americans are a vital part of the Democratic Party constituency, and Democrats will need to craft a message that both condemns violence against law enforcement and continues to support the protests of police brutality
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