- The Washington Times - Monday, July 4, 2016

A mere 168 miles will separate the presidential foes: Likely nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will both campaign in North Carolina on Tuesday — she in Charlotte, he in Raleigh. The race itself has become very close as well: Mr. Trump leads his rival in a new Quinnipiac University survey, and comes within five percentage points in findings released Monday by USA Today.

Mrs. Clinton has the dramatic edge, however. President Obama joins her for their long-awaited first campaign appearance together, with an intensely loyal crowd and an ever-attentive news media along with them. The protective press already has framed the event in monumental terms, and with a feel-good emphasis on emerging Democratic Party unity and the “trustworthiness” of the candidate herself. Or words to that effect.

“Why is President Obama allowed to use Air Force One on the campaign trail with Crooked Hillary? She is flying with him. Who pays?” Mr. Trump tweeted. Many believe it is a point well taken.

Clinton’s chances of winning the White House hinge on rallying Obama’s coalition to her cause. Obama’s legacy depends on her success. Eight years after they spent millions tearing each other down in pursuit of the White House, they will now spend countless words and four months selling each other to the public,” writes Associated Press analyst Julie Pace.

But politics is not an exact science.

“Will President Obama help or hurt Hillary Clinton?” asks Linda Feldman, a Christian Science Monitor staff writer. “Obama can do a lot of good for Clinton over the next four months, as he works to convince American voters that they should warm up to her just as he did. But there’s only so much a lame-duck president can do for his hoped-for successor.”

THE BIDEN FACTOR

Not to be outdone, Vice President Joseph R. Biden also makes his grand debut on the campaign trail, appearing Friday in Scranton, Pennsylvania, with Hillary Clinton. Conveniently, Scranton is Mr. Biden’s hometown, which will likely prompt the vice president’s “Uncle Joe” charm to go full throttle during the event,

Curiously however, some press accounts have suggested the pair are not the closest of allies. The New York Times, in fact, previously reported that merely mentioning Mrs. Clinton’s name was enough to make Mr. Biden “fume” in the days when he was considering a White House run himself.

But there’s always Vice President Part II.

Hillary Clinton is in the process of whittling down her vice presidential shortlist. But if she’s looking to truly rout Trump in November, she ought to consider one old hand who is almost never mentioned: Joe Biden,” suggests Joel Dodge, a reporter for The Week.

“The current vice president is universally known, vetted, and unquestionably fit to serve. As America’s affable ‘Uncle Joe,’ he is viewed positively by 51 percent of the country and unfavorably by just 36 percent,” Mr. Dodge notes, adding, “he has already proven to be an able complement to a candidate who, like Clinton, sometimes struggles to connect viscerally and emotionally with voters. He also appears to absolutely love being vice president, and is good at the job.”

And one other dynamic: There is no constitutional limit on how many terms a vice president can serve.

WARREN: NOT SO APPEALING

There was much ado about likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s recent campaign appearance with Sen. Elizabeth Warren. The press crowed with praise over the possibility there might be a Clinton/Warren ticket in the making. Yes, well. Americans may not agree with such a pairing, something for strategists to consider.

A new Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely U.S. voters finds that just 17 percent say they would be more likely to vote for Mrs. Clinton for president if Ms. Warren became her running mate. Another 29 percent actually say they would be less likely to vote for Mrs. Clinton, while a disappointing 50 percent say that Ms. Warren as vice president would have “no impact” on their vote.

CITIZENS PREPARED

“June 2016 saw the most FBI gun background checks of any June since the current system went into effect,” reports Stephen Gutowski, a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon.

“The agency reported on Sunday that it processed more than 2.1 million gun related checks in June, an increase of more than 600,000 over the previous record set last year. That makes June the 14th month in a row to see a new background check record, including every month of 2016. This year is on pace to break 2015’s record for most checks in a year.”

A BODACIOUS GOP CONVENTION

There will be tension, protesters and riot police outside the four-day Republican National Convention, set to begin at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland in less than two weeks. But inside the arena, steel-clad order will be maintained. Just a few numbers, these courtesy of Kirsten Kukowski, press secretary for the event:

Around 50,000 guests and 15,000 credentialed journalists will attend, along with 120 GOP staffers, 175 stagehands, 2,470 delegates and 2,302 alternate delegates from all 50 states. There are 23 official vendors who will purvey convention-themed merchandise, including flags, chocolate, jewelry, watches and furniture. There are also six official florists, chosen from a field of 34.

Production-wise, there will be 70 tons of special lighting, supported on five steel beams. The Jumbotron-style screens onstage will measure 50 feet by 30 feet. Last, but certainly not least, organizers will loose 125,000 balloons from the ceiling during the closing jubilee, presumably in red, white and blue.

POLL DU JOUR

93 percent of likely U.S. voters who support Hillary Clinton say they would “never” vote for Donald Trump.

91 percent of likely voters who support Mr. Trump say they would never vote for Mrs. Clinton.

61 percent of voters overall say they feel “alarmed” by the 2016 presidential election.

54 percent feel “less safe today” than they did five to 10 years ago.

23 percent are “excited” about the election; 9 percent are “bored.”

Source: USA Today/Suffolk University poll of 1,000 likely U.S. voters conducted June 26 to 29.

• Murmurs and asides to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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