Latest Clinton email story probably won’t divide Democrats, but that won’t stop Republicans from trying

REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Hillary Clinton speaking about the FBI inquiry into her emails during a campaign rally in Daytona Beach, Florida, on Saturday.

It’s no secret that Hillary Clinton is not popular with many Republicans. And Donald Trump certainly isn’t popular with many Democrats.

Even before Trump became the Republican nominee for president, Democrats attempted to connect Trump to nearly every Republican candidate running for elected office in 2016. And after the New York developer became the Republican nominee, Democrats seized upon every cringe-worthy comment, every allegation of inappropriate behavior to connect them with local Republican candidates. 

In many cases, it’s worked. In the last month, there has been a steady stream of defections by Republicans away from Trump as he faces accusations of sexual assault from numerous women and after comments made by Trump bragging about groping woman were unearthed. 

For Republicans focused on keeping control of the U.S. Senate and House, far too many news cycles have been dominated by news of Republicans fighting with Republicans over Trump.

Yet the divisions inside the Republican Party over Trump’s candidacy have overshadowed the fact that there are more than a few Democrats who have reservations about their own candidate. During a debate last week with his Republican opponent, for example, Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson said that he is “conflicted” about the race for president. Peterson isn’t voting for Trump, but he is unwilling to commit to voting for Clinton — a piece of news that would have been a much bigger deal this election cycle if more Republicans were sticking with their own party’s nominee.

Then, late Friday afternoon, Republicans were presented with another opportunity to sow division among Democrats, as news broke that the FBI notified Congress that it would investigate new emails connected to the probe of Clinton’s use of a private server. 

The National Republican Congressional Committee was the first to respond in Minnesota, quickly issuing two press releases asking if Angie Craig, the Democratic candidate for Congress in the Second Congressional District, and Congressman Rick Nolan, who is locked in a close election contest with Republican Stewart Mills, were still supporting Clinton.

It was a stretch to think Craig or Nolan would dump their support of Clinton based on the limited information released on Friday. But after seeing Trump become an albatross around the necks of so many Republicans candidates this year, it wasn’t surprising to see national Republicans jump at the opportunity to try and tie down a few Democrats with the possibility of a new Clinton scandal. Turnabout is fair play, especially in politics. 

Still, unless more details are released by the FBI about the new emails and any possible connection to Clinton, it is unlikely Republicans will get as much political traction against Democratic candidates as Democrats have had with Republicans candidates and Trump.

But it’s a good reminder that the fog of political war creates a situation in which opposing candidates eventually become nothing more than punching bags to one another. Any perceived shortcoming of either candidate, fair or unfair, gets used to weaken a candidate to the benefit of the other. And as we enter the final week of the election, after months of repeated attempts to connect Trump to Republican candidates, Republicans are going use whatever chance they get to finally return punches at Democrats.

Comments (12)

  1. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 10/31/2016 - 11:40 am.

    How inappropriate

    It was bad enough having the FBI director, a Republican, trying to swing the presidential election, but how can you let a Republican plant try to do the same thing a week before our local election? Please, no more articles from this Republican spinmaster before the election. The fact is Minnesota voters can vote for local candidates on their merits. The approval rating of the Republican Congress is around 20%. Clearly, Lewis and Mills are both likely to vote party line on all issues, as neither has committed to doing anything to serve the local needs of their districts.

    • Submitted by Robert Moffitt on 10/31/2016 - 11:55 am.

      Mr. Brodkorb is no ‘plant’

      His posts, in MinnPost, the Star Tribune and on his own site have offered a valuable insight to Minnesota politics from someone who used to be on the inside.

      I am as surprised as anyone that the one-time author of “Minnesota Democrats Exposed” could write a political column I would ever want to read, but that’s exactly what he has done. I hope to see more of his writing in the weeks ahead.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 10/31/2016 - 12:26 pm.

      Ditto

      To what Mr. Moffitt said. Lord knows I was no fan of Mr. Brodkorb in his MDE days, but he is putting interesting stories here. I make a point of reading them.

  2. Submitted by Jim Million on 10/31/2016 - 12:20 pm.

    Duck, Duck, Grey Duck

    jerk, jerk, knee jerk…

    Regardless of political position, this week’s contributors can offer little but regurgitation.
    Nobody around here knows what those in the know know.
    None of us does.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 10/31/2016 - 12:44 pm.

      Which is exactly why . . . . . .

      Which is exactly why Comey should have kept his mouth shut until and unless he knew there was actually anything incriminating in the newly discovered emails.

  3. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 10/31/2016 - 01:05 pm.

    Divide the Democrats?

    I don’t think that is really the goal. I think the real point of making such a fuss over what is very likely nothing is to rile up the base. Trump’s poll numbers are bad, and the fear for him and his minions has to be that many of them will be discouraged and not vote. This is just the sort of thing to get their hearts pumping again, and have them show up to vote.

    Let’s also not eliminate the possibility that Trump has nothing else to say, or that there is a real fear that anything else he does say will just make him look even worse.

  4. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 10/31/2016 - 05:10 pm.

    Everybody is missing an important feature of this post: That Mr. Brodkorb blames Democrats, or a Democratic campaign strategy, for Republican officials and candidates dropping away from Trump.

    As if Donald Trump’s words and actions have not been, in themselves, capable of putting off decent Republicans, especially educated Republican women. As if, without some obscure Democratic “plot” to exaggerate all Trump’s apparent mistakes, all Republican candidates or office and party officials would still be in Trump’s corner.

    Now, that’s spin. As fine an example as one could wish for.

  5. Submitted by Bob Anderson on 10/31/2016 - 07:16 pm.

    Trump Time

    The choice has been and even more now Mr Trump is just the medicine this country needs. This is the year of outsiders and change. The last thing we want to do is put the Clintons back in the White House. This time Hillary is the first presidential candidate in history to be under the investigation of the FBI. The last time they were in the White House Bill was impeached. The Clintons represent all that is wrong with American politics.

  6. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 10/31/2016 - 08:57 pm.

    Compare

    So Republicans don’t want to vote for Trump because he bragged about groping women – a noble position, I would say, but Democrats are fine with voting for Clinton who knowingly made a decision as a Secretary of State to use an unsecured server… did she not realize that secretaries of State may get classified information sooner or later? So I applaud Rep. Peterson and hope that more Democrats would say the same.

  7. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 11/01/2016 - 06:04 am.

    Divided Democrats

    Speaking as a pretty strong Democrat myself, and hardly Hillary’s biggest fan, I don’t see us divided at all. Hillary certainly made a mistake long ago when she checked off the wrong box concerning email practices when she was secretary of state, but no one is perfect. The subsequent hullabaloo was largely manufactured by Republicans, the same Republicans who nearly destroyed the economy last time they had the chance.

  8. Submitted by joe smith on 11/01/2016 - 09:05 am.

    The only thing that could splinter the Democrats was

    a socialist…. How scary is that? No matter what HRC does it is justified by Dems only Bernie S and his socialist ideas got the Dems divided between Big Govt and HUGE Govt… Only in America or Venezuela or ……

  9. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 11/02/2016 - 11:07 am.

    No, Joe Smith: What the Democrats had in 2016 was a vigorous primary season, where Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders debated the issues, rather than spending their time debating whose penis–oops! I mean fingers–was bigger and who was a No-Energy Loser, like the Republicans.

    Dems had two major and articulate candidates. Bernie Sanders is now out in the U.S. campaigning for Hillary Clinton. No split.

    Trump’s only primary “opponent” who’s campaigning for him–and there were many, many candidates–is Christie. Not a very reputable booster, really. And many prominent Republicans in this country have declared their opposition to Trump. Some, like Colin Powell, have declared that they are voting for Clinton.

    So much for which party is “split.”

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