- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 12, 2016

Hillary Clinton’s prospects in November depend largely on pulling the famed “Obama coalition” back together for her showdown with Republican Donald Trump, and the Clinton campaign in recent days has taken explicit steps to court Hispanics, women, millennials and other key blocs of voters that propelled President Obama to victory in 2008.

Even as she’s still fending off a tough primary challenge from Sen. Bernard Sanders, Mrs. Clinton this week has undertaken a coordinated effort to appeal to the groups of voters she’ll need to capture the White House. The former first lady has targeted Hispanics, courted women with paid leave and child-care policy pitches, and tried to win over young voters — a group that so far largely has sided with Mr. Sanders in this primary cycle — by promoting her plans to dramatically lower college tuition.

The Clinton campaign seems keenly aware that, at least right now, Mr. Trump has the advantage among white, working-class voters. While Mrs. Clinton is sure to go after those voters over the summer, for now her campaign is trying to shore up the progressive base.

On Thursday, the Clinton campaign dispatched Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Rep. Ruben Gallego, Arizona Democrat, on a conference call with reporters to argue that Mr. Trump’s policies specifically would hurt Latino families.

“He’s called for a tax plan that would vastly widen the wealth gap for Latinos by giving $3 trillion in tax breaks to millionaires, and said he’d leave the minimum wage to the states rather than setting a federal minimum,” the Clinton campaign said in a statement. “From creating additional economic barriers to the prosperity of Latino families to seriously hurting the U.S. economy through his mass deportation plan, Trump is a risk the Latino community cannot afford.”

For his part, Mr. Trump isn’t resigned to losing the Hispanic vote to Mrs. Clinton. He’s promised to fight for Latino votes and has insisted that, come November, many Hispanics will warm to his candidacy, despite his repeated vow to crack down on illegal immigration and build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

Mr. Trump also faces an uphill battle with female voters. Recent polls have shown Mrs. Clinton with a huge lead among women, and the former secretary of state is looking solidify that support by zeroing in on paid family leave, equal pay for women, a higher minimum wage, more affordable child care and other issues.

“Equal pay is not just a woman’s issue,” Mrs. Clinton said Wednesday during a campaign stop in New Jersey. “If you have a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter, who’s working, it’s your issue, too. It’s a family issue, it’s an economic issue.”

Earlier in the week, Mrs. Clinton sounded a similar note during a stop in Lexington, Kentucky, in which she promised that she would take steps to ensure no family pays more than 10 percent of its income for child care. She did not, however, detail how much the plan would cost and how it would be implemented.

Mrs. Clinton also has tried to appeal to younger voters by promoting her plans to offer debt-free college tuition and lower existing student debt payments for many Americans.

But she faces a difficult challenge. Mr. Sanders consistently has beaten Mrs. Clinton among that voting bloc in primaries across the country, and specialists say getting them on board is crucial for the Clinton campaign.

Clinton’s biggest vulnerability is young people. Those individuals were vital to the Obama victory, yet they consistently have preferred Sanders over Clinton in the Democratic primaries. She needs to raise their enthusiasm level in order to keep them in the fold for the fall. If she cannot energize them, she will have a competitive race against Trump,” said Darrell West, director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution. “She needs a substantial turnout from that group in order to preserve the Obama coalition.”

Polling suggests that Mrs. Clinton is better positioned than Mr. Trump to capture young voters, though she still has work to do.

A Gallup survey released Thursday found that 38 percent of millennials — Americans between the ages of 20 and 36 — have a favorable opinion of Mrs. Clinton, compared to 22 percent who have a favorable opinion of Mr. Trump.

While that’s a significant advantage, the poll also found Mrs. Clinton has nowhere near the goodwill among young Americans that Mr. Sanders does.

The Gallup survey found that 55 percent of millennials have a favorable opinion of the Vermont senator.

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