“Oh Captain, My Captain”
A day in the life of the 2016 Presidential Campaign
By Michael Bravo, Freelance Writer
The presumptive nominees from the Republican and Democratic camps were scheduled to speak today in North Carolina. With the Republican Convention scheduled to take place less than three weeks away and the Democratic Convention following shortly thereafter, both camps are in the midst of vetting potential running mates as well as trying to assemble support from their respective caucuses — some more successfully than others.
About a Star
Besides preparing for the nominees’ events later in the day, the early morning media cycle was flush with news regarding the latest social media blunder out of the Trump camp: Tweeting a message with an image of Hillary Clinton’s on a pile of hundred dollar bills, a message saying ‘Crooked Hillary’ and another message saying ‘Most Corrupt Candidate Ever’ superimposed on a Star of David.
The Anti-Semitic overtones of the Trump message were recognized and parsed immediately on social media and the image was changed to a circle by the Trump camp shortly after; but the damage had been done and the Twitter-verse and bloggers pounced. Surrogates for the Trump camp quickly back peddled and deflected the issue as ‘political correctness run amok’, spinning the issue based on the geometry of the shape by claiming it was a ‘sheriff badge star’ or ‘plain’ star. The director of digital media communications for the Trump Camp, Dan Scavino, went so far as to say that the star was simply one of many available Microsoft Shapes.
However, research into the origin of the graphic revealed that it had appeared previously and was copied from a well known White Supremacist social media news feed. It is not the first time the Trump camp has shared or re-tweeted racially tinged messages, revealing a pattern, aggravating Republicans and offending millions.
In spite of the extreme backlash from the insensitive message and calls from the Anti Defamation League to admit wrongdoing and to denounce the groups from which the graphic originated, the Trump camp continued to deny any error. Speaker Paul Ryan denounced the message, stating that such messages had ‘no place’ in a Presidential campaign and that the Republican nominee would have to ‘clean it up’. But will he?
An Impromptu Address
It seemed the social media blunder would monopolize the daily news cycle. It did, until however, FBI Director James Comey called an impromptu press conference to address the ongoing investigation into the use of the Secretary of State and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s private email servers.
Comey began the press conference with rather scathing and admonishing remarks concerning the negligent setup and ‘careless’ use of the email server, but backed off toward the end of the address, when he stated ‘no charges’ should or would be recommended based on precedent in such cases. The statement essentially clears Secretary Clinton of any ‘willful’ wrongdoing, pending of course, the ultimate decision from the head of the Department of Justice Loretta Lynch.
The decision by the FBI was met with sharp criticism by Republicans, including disparaging remarks from Speaker Paul Ryan. The Clinton campaign swiftly responded , issuing a statement saying, “We are pleased that the career officials handling this case have determined that no further action by the Department is appropriate.”
The Clinton camp was clearly relieved by the decision, but the scolding remarks by FBI Director James Comey will certainly provide ammunition for Republicans who would like to latch onto the commentary to build upon the already developed theme which questions Clinton’s trustworthiness.
On The Campaign Trail in North Carolina
Shortly after the FBI statement was released and responses from each party issued, Hilary Clinton stepped off of Air Force One in North Carolina prepared to push forward in a new stage of her campaign with her most powerful surrogate: President Barrack Obama.
Secretary Clinton and President Obama had originally planned the joint event earlier in the campaign, but it was delayed when the Orlando shooting, which tragically took the lives of 49 Americans, occurred and shook the nation. A response to the event took precedence to the politics of the election cycle and campaign posturing.
After waiting patiently for Secretary Clinton to address her crowd of assembled supporters, the President did not disappoint. President Obama greeted the crowd enthusiastically asking if they were in fact ‘ready’. They were. And so too was The President.
Launching into attacks at the ineptness of the Republican nominee and the eight years of Congressional obstruction by the Republican caucus, The President continued by mocking Mr. Trump, stating that having an affinity for ‘Tweeting’ did not qualify him for the office of President. The President pointed out the fact that his teenage daughter ‘Tweets’ but that she did not, by that merit, expect the right to sit in the Oval Office and lead the Free World.
President Obama continued with a scathing attack of the GOP stating, “the other side has nothing for you”. At a later point, after invoking the name of the Republican nominee, and eliciting a chorus of ‘Boos’ he challenged the audience by saying, “Don’t Boo. Vote!” The statement was received by a roar of cheers. The entire address lasted nearly fifty minutes in total. Before concluding, The President enthusiastically endorsed Hillary Clinton for the office of the presidency, claiming that he was in fact prepared to pass the baton to the Secretary of State and had full confidence in her preparedness for the position.
The presumptive nominee for the Republican party, Donald Trump spoke at his rally, also in North Carolina, in the evening. His remarks, mostly unprepared, began with a focus on the suggestion that the system is ‘rigged’ since the FBI did not prosecute Secretary Clinton in the Email Investigation. Most of the remarks echoed the themes the nominee has constructed during the primaries including the idea of constructing a wall at the U.S.-Mexican border, profiling immigrants and getting stronger on trade.
Perhaps the most shocking remark made by the Republican nominee was praise for Saddam Hussein for the manner in which “killed terrorists”. The remarks were swiftly seized upon by social media and a response was issued by Speaker Ryan, rebuking the comments by the nominee. The rebuke by the Speaker is one in a string of similar responses with regards to the campaign rhetoric delivered by Mr. Trump.
Perhaps the most uncomfortable optic for members in the Republican caucus was the introductory speech by Sen. Bob Corker (TN). Sen. Corker was invited out by Trump at the onset of the event, whereby the senator began his remarks by saying “I did not plan on making any remarks tonight”.
During the three minutes of banal remarks, at no point did the Senator Corker make an endorsement or enthusiastic call for support of Mr. Trump. Instead, the senator searching for the appropriate words said, “you love him, because he loves you”.
The two rally events could not draw a more stark contrast. While the Democratic party continues to unify, gain momentum and launch into a new phase of the campaign, the Republican party lags behind in enthusiasm, is clearly unsure of their nominee, message and overall direction.
The Republican ship appears rudderless and its crew totally lacking in confidence of it’s captain. This captain, Oh captain, appears to be no captain; and while this ‘fearful trip’ is not done, the Republican ‘vessel’ does, in fact, seem ‘grim and daring’.