- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The first thing that pops into Americans’ minds when they think of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is “dishonest” and “dislike her,” while the response to Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont is “socialist” and “old,” according to a Gallup poll released Tuesday.

The survey found that the top-of-the-mind reaction to Mrs. Clinton, who is the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, were “dishonest,” “liar,” “don’t trust her” and “poor character.”

Another 7 percent of Americans use even stronger words in a similar negative vein, including “criminal,” “crooked” and “thief,” while 9 percent say they dislike her.

The negative reaction follows months of controversy dogging Mrs. Clinton over her exclusive use of a private email account and email server to conduct official business as secretary of state, as well as questions about the Benghazi terrorist attack during her tenure.

The top-of-the-mind reaction of “socialist” to her rival for the nomination, Mr. Sanders, is in line with his self-proclaimed democratic socialist political philosophy. But another 3 percent say “communist,” according to the poll.

About 6 percent of the top-of-mind reactions to Mr. Sanders center on his age. He is 74 and would be 75 if inaugurated as president.

“Clear-cut negative impressions of Sanders include people saying they view him unfavorably; describing him as ‘crazy’ or ‘delusional’; and claiming that he would provide government freebies or simply give money away,” the pollsters said.

On the positive side, in addition to views that Mr. Sanders is a fresh face and honest, Americans mention that he cares about people and the middle class, that he is personable and that he is intelligent.

Still, the findings underscore weaknesses of the Democratic candidates and misgivings of Democratic voters heading into an election in which the party has experienced much lower turnout in the primaries than the Republicans.

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