Clinton Ponders Trump Election Reaction10/22 10:36
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) -- Hillary Clinton's campaign is increasingly
preparing for the possibility that Donald Trump may never concede the
presidential election should she win, a development that could enormously
complicate the crucial early weeks of her preparations to take office.
Aiming to undermine any argument the Republican nominee may make about a
"rigged" election, she hopes to roll up a large electoral vote margin in next
month's election. That could repudiate the New York billionaire's message and
project a governing mandate after the bitter, divisive presidential race.
Clinton's team is also keeping a close eye on statements by national
Republican leaders, predicting they could play an important role in how Trump's
accusations of electoral fraud might be perceived. That's according to several
Clinton campaign aides, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were
not authorized to publicly discuss internal strategy.
Campaign officials stress they are not taking the outcome of the election
for granted. But Clinton and her team have begun thinking about how to position
their candidate during the postelection period. Long one of the country's most
polarizing political figures, Clinton has begun telling audiences she'll need
their help in healing the country.
"I've got to figure out how we heal these divides," she said in a Friday
interview with a Tampa radio station WBTP. "We've got to get together. Maybe
that's a role that is meant to be for my presidency if I'm so fortunate to be
A refusal by Trump to accept the election results would not only upend a
basic tenet of American democracy, but also force Clinton to create a new
playbook for handling the transfer of power. And a narrow victory would make it
more difficult for her to claim substantial political capital at the start of
"Donald is still going to whine if he loses. But if the mandate is clear, I
don't think many people will follow him," said Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine,
Clinton's running mate, in an interview Thursday with CNN's "New Day."
While Clinton's campaign has long focused on maintaining pathways to cross
the threshold of 270 electoral votes, it's now looking to capture an expanded
number of states that could also help determine control of the Senate ---
including Republican-leaning Arizona.
Polls indicate that Clinton has extended her advantage in several toss-up
states during the three fall debates, giving her campaign more confidence. She
has maintained stable leads in states such as Pennsylvania, Virginia and
Colorado, as well as a narrow edge in Florida and North Carolina.
"They're looking at it like this: We've got these doors of opportunity open,
let's make sure we go down all of them,'" said Jeremy Bird, the national field
director for President Barack Obama's 2012 campaign who is helping Clinton's
If Clinton wins the White House, she will enter as one of the least popular
first-term presidents in generations. While Trump has suffered from high
unfavorable ratings, particularly among women, Clinton has been hampered by
polls showing more than half of the public considers her to be untrustworthy.
Some Republicans are already preparing for Trump's defeat, downplaying the
significance of a Clinton triumph.
"On Nov 8, Clinton's claims of a mandate will fly in the face of reality.
She only won by not being Trump," tweeted conservative writer Erick Erickson.
Rolling up a big victory in the Electoral College would let Clinton push back
against that notion and assert that voters had rejected what she has called
Trump's mean, divisive message.
In a race against Trump and independents Gary Johnson and Jill Stein,
Clinton may struggle to reach 50 percent of the vote. But competing in states
such as Arizona and pushing for Senate victories in Missouri and Indiana might
help Democrats in their quest to recapture the Senate and give her a better
chance of surpassing Obama's 332 electoral votes in the 2012 campaign.
Clinton's campaign is making a significant push in Arizona, which offers 11
electoral votes and has stayed in the Republican column in all but one
presidential election since 1952. Bill Clinton was the last Democrat to carry
the state, in 1996.
First lady Michelle Obama courted voters in Phoenix on Thursday, following
appearances by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and the Clintons' daughter, Chelsea
Clinton. The campaign is spending $2 million in advertising and toying with
sending Clinton herself there before Election Day.
"I think it's clear that Hillary Clinton has a chance to win Arizona just
like her husband did 20 years ago," said Rodd McLeod, a Phoenix-based
Democratic strategist who helped Clinton's campaign during the primary.
Two other Republican-leaning states could prove tempting.
Georgia, which has had an influx of diverse voters in the Atlanta area, is
considered a future battleground state, with many Democrats comparing it to
Utah overwhelmingly supported Mitt Romney, the nation's first Mormon
presidential nominee, with more than 72 percent in 2012. But many of the
state's Republicans have abandoned Trump and polls show Clinton and Trump in a
tight contest against independent Evan McMullin, a conservative former CIA
officer who graduated from Brigham Young University.
If McMullin captures Utah, he will be the first independent presidential
candidate to win electoral votes since George Wallace in 1968.