- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Hillary Clinton’s top surrogates fanned out across key swing states Wednesday to turn attention away from the candidate’s latest run-in with the FBI and toward Donald Trump’s character, a highly negative campaign strategy with a heavy focus on the Republican’s past comments about women and minorities.

The Clinton campaign has honed in on that message during the home stretch of the presidential campaign, putting policy on the back burner in favor of making the Republican billionaire unpalatable to a majority of voters. President Obama delivered that pitch in North Carolina, while Vice President Joseph R. Biden stumped in Florida and Sen. Bernard SandersMrs. Clinton’s foe in the Democratic presidential primary — made two stops in Michigan and one in Wisconsin. Mrs. Clinton herself was on the trail in Nevada and Arizona Wednesday.

In each state, Democrats pushed a similar narrative.

“This guy is temperamentally unfit to be commander in chief, and he is not equipped to be president,” Mr. Obama told a crowd in Raleigh, North Carolina, Wednesday afternoon. “I mean, this is somebody who vilifies minorities, vilifies immigrants, vilifies people of Muslim faith, makes fun of Americans with disabilities. How is that person going to be your voice? Do you want someone to be your voice who brags on tape about how being famous allows him to get away with sexual assault?”

Mr. Obama’s reference to a 2005 video tape in which Mr. Trump claimed he can grope women because of his celebrity status has become the central talking point for Democrats in recent days. Combined with allegations of sexual assault against Mr. Trump, and the Republican’s controversial statements about Muslims and Mexican immigrants, Democrats hope any undecided voters will look past their differences with Mrs. Clinton and conclude she’s the only reasonable choice.

Mr. Trump has apologized for his comments on the 2005 video and has vehemently denied the sexual assault allegations. Democrats’ focus on those issues ramped up following last Friday’s revelation that the FBI had reopened an investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s private email server, a development that temporarily put the Clinton campaign back on its heels.

But by the beginning of the week, the campaign settled on a strategy of mostly ignoring the FBI investigation and going negative against Mr. Trump, realizing that it’s surely too late in the game to change voters’ broader perceptions about Mrs. Clinton’s honesty.

In Florida Mr. Biden acknowledged that voters may have reservations about Mrs. Clinton, but said she’s qualified for the job, while her opponent has disqualified himself.

“All kidding aside, this guy has got a fixation. Have you ever heard anybody ever talk as much about and be so preoccupied with women’s bodies?” Mr. Biden said. “Their shape, whether or not they’re good or bad. A guy who said what he said to Bully Bush that, because he’s famous, because he is wealthy, he has the right to commit sexual assault? Because that is the definition of sexual assault.

“This guy doesn’t deserve to be president by any count. He really doesn’t,” the vice president concluded.

In Kalamazoo, Michigan, Mr. Sanders told Clinton supporters they must elect the former first lady if they hope to rein in the power of Wall Street and pharmaceutical companies, and he also cast Mr. Trump as an unacceptable choice.

But the Vermont senator also conceded that voters have become discouraged by two candidates with the highest unfavorable ratings in modern political history.

“It’s no secret that many are discouraged with the political process,” he said. “They’re so tired of the ugliness. What corporate national media has done is turned this election into a personality contest to see which candidate you dislike the most.”

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