By Audrey Bowler ‘16 – EI Campus Communications Team
As the modern world of politics and government evolves, campaigning has become a permanent fixture in social and political culture. As potential candidates prepare for the 2016 presidential election, here’s what made headlines this past week:
1. Trump Takes the Plunge
Real estate mogul and reality TV icon Donald Trump announced his presidential campaign on Tuesday after two decades of repeatedly hinting that he would run.
“I am officially running for president of the United States, and we are going to make our country great again,” Trump said during a 45-minute speech covering economic issues from currency manipulation from China to job creation, while criticizing the president and his fellow GOP candidates.
“Sadly, the American dream is dead,” Trump said at the end of his speech. “But if I get elected president I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before.”
Trump’s announcement, held at the Trump Tower complex on New York’s Fifth Avenue, came four years after the billionaire came just steps away from launching a campaign to combat President Obama’s chances at reelection.
After 14 seasons of his reality TV series, “The Apprentice,” Trump is primarily seen as a television celebrity, and his multiple flirtations with a run for national office (in 1987, 1999, 2004, 2008, and 2011) had left many doubting that Trump’s latest declarations would result in anything concrete.
Trump has declared that he is “the most successful person ever to run for the presidency, by far,” and said that his successful career in business will help him to be “the greatest jobs president that God ever created.”
Trump has said that he plans to self-fund his presidential campaign, eliminating the influence of some powerful outside donors. Self-funding would give Trump more time in his schedule to travel and campaign instead of focusing on fundraising, which can take up almost half of a candidate’s time on the campaign trail.
2. Clinton’s Close Finish
In a Wisconsin straw poll held this weekend, Hillary Clinton took the lead among the field of Democratic contenders for the presidential nomination – but not by the margin she was hoping for.
Clinton earned the support of less than half of the 511 Wisconsin Democrats chosen to represent their party at the Wisconsin Democratic Party convention. With 252 votes, Clinton had 49% of the delegates’ support, while Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders came in a close second with 41%. Vice President Joe Biden and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (who launched his bid last month), each took 3% support.
Sanders’ campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, says that the poll is strong evidence that the Senator’s message is resonating with voters – and not just in Wisconsin. “The Wisconsin straw poll and huge turnouts at town meetings in New Hampshire and Iowa are sending a message that people care about real issues like income inequality and the collapse of the American middle class,” Weaver said in a statement.
Clinton’s slim win over Sanders is a surprising finish for the former Secretary of State, whose sizable leads in national polls have seemed to indicate that she will be the Democratic frontrunner.
But since the launch of Clinton’s campaign in April, both her policy record and personal finances have been examined and criticized on the national stage. A close win in an informal straw poll – while still a win – may be a sign that the buzz surrounding the presumed favorite of the Democratic Party may be fading.
3. Clinton-Trump Confrontation
During a radio interview on Thursday, Hillary Clinton criticized Donald Trump for comments made during his campaign launch speech, saying that his comments were offensive to Mexicans and “emblematic” of the hateful rhetoric that should be unacceptable in the wake of the Charleston church shootings.
“We have to have a candid national conversation about race and about discrimination, prejudice, hatred,” said Clinton. “But unfortunately the public discourse is sometimes hotter and more negative than it should be, which can, in my opinion, trigger people who are less than stable… Everybody should stand up and say that’s not acceptable. You don’t talk like that on talk radio. You don’t talk like that on the kind of political campaigns.” The former Secretary of State refused to mention Trump by name, but she referenced remarks from his recent announcement speech that criticized Mexican immigrants.
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” Trump told his audience. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists, and some, I assume, are good people.”
While Clinton refused to name Trump, despite being urged to by radio hosts, she added, “I think he is emblematic. I want people to understand it’s not about him, it’s about everybody.”
4. Jindal Jumpstarts
Current Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal announced his candidacy for the GOP nomination on Wednesday, making him the 13th Republican to enter the crowded field. Jindal, who considered a run for the presidency in 2012, announced his bid over Twitter and Facebook before hosting a kickoff rally.
“I’m running for President of the United States of America. Join me,” Jindal tweeted, with a link to his website’s announcement page.
At Wednesday’s rally, Gov. Jindal promoted his reputation for bold leadership, while being somebody who both “talked the talk and walked the walk” as governor of Louisiana.
“The big government crowd – they hate what I have done,” said Jindal. “I am guilty as charged, and our state is better off for it today. We have had enough of talkers, it’s time for doers. I’m not running for president to be somebody, I’m running for president to do something.”
Jindal will have to work hard to combat low polling numbers – both as a national candidate and in his own state. He’s currently polling at the bottom of the field, registering at 1% in the latest CNN/ORC poll.
His own reputation as governor has suffered significantly over the past few years – recent polls estimate his approval at 32% – in part due to state budget troubles and deep cuts in government spending to programs like healthcare and education. Jindal faces an upward battle if he wants to keep his campaign on track.