Series of Clinton missteps make for miserable weekend

Matthew Kelly

For better or for worse, the 2016 election cycle has been all about Donald Trump. 

Even Hillary Clinton is willing to sit back and let Trump make headlines. However, reckless word choice and a bout of pneumonia have led to an all-around miserable few days on the campaign trail for the democratic candidate.

Clinton’s nightmarish weekend kicked off late Friday night when she painted Trump supporters with a broad brush while speaking at a New York City fundraiser.

“To be grossly generalistic, you can put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables,” Clinton said.

She characterized these “deplorables” as racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic and Islamaphobic. Clinton went on to explain that the other half of supporters were simply good people who felt the government had let them down, but media outrage has remained focused on her description of Trump’s base.

In a statement Saturday, Clinton apologized for her use of the word “half,” but was unrelenting about her evaluation of choice Trump supporters and campaign tactics. 

“I won’t stop calling out bigotry and racist rhetoric in this campaign,” Clinton said in a statement.

No matter how far Clinton walks her remarks back, the damage has been done. In a speech on Monday in Baltimore, Trump aired his grievances. 

“I was…deeply shocked and alarmed this Friday to hear my opponent attack, slander, smear, and demean these wonderful, amazing people,” he said.

Though Clinton feels much of her statement is justifiable, there is no saying yet how much of a negative impact this gaffe could have on her long-term campaign. Many of her own supporters stand by her viewpoint, but pessimists are comparing the incident to Mitt Romney’s infamous 47 percent remark in 2012, when he alienated a large portion of the population by talking down on Americans who did not pay income taxes.

Additional challenges arose for Clinton over the weekend when she became overheated at a 9/11 commemoration ceremony on Sunday and left the event early. Video has surfaced of a weak Hillary Clinton being helped into a vehicle by Secret Service agents.

The democratic nominee emerged hours later to reassure supporters, but the real drama started when her campaign released the information that Clinton had been diagnosed with pneumonia days earlier on Friday.

For months, Donald Trump has scrutinized Clinton’s health, feeding into theories and conspiracies that her campaign is guarding certain information on the subject.

Trump himself has released a hastily written doctor’s note claiming he is in fine health, but its hyperbolic tone and multiple spelling errors have cast general doubt on its credibility.

Trump and Clinton are 70 and 68 years old respectively and whichever of them is elected will become the second oldest U.S. President behind Ronald Reagan. It is reasonable to expect the candidates to be forthcoming when discussing their personal health.

On Sunday, a Clinton aide claimed the nominee “thought she could push through” and had been feeling better before the incident. Though Clinton canceled her upcoming California campaign trip, her pneumonia seems to be relatively mild, and she should be back on the trail before long.

The real issue here is not about Clinton’s health, but her trustworthiness. Continued coverage and controversy over her e-mail scandal have severely damaged her public perception.  Many voters simply do not trust Clinton, and not being open about her health only feeds the fire.

Overall, the Clinton campaign needs to pick up the pieces and move past an overwhelmingly negative weekend. Polls are promising, and the former Secretary of State is in prime position to win the November election. That being said, she must choose her words carefully and take drastic measures to improve her campaign’s transparency. 

The White House hangs in the  balance.