US election: Hillary Clinton targets Mormon voters and Donald Trump calls ‘copycat’ on planes

By Washington DC bureau chief Zoe Daniel

File picture: AFP

Take a city full of world leaders, a bomber blowing up pressure cookers filled with shrapnel and a presidential campaign in which the candidates are completely polarised and you have an interesting week in America.

It was on Saturday night in New York when reports began filtering in about an explosion in Chelsea.

Twenty-nine people were injured when a homemade bomb went off on a busy street. A bomb robot defused a second device.

As world leaders gathered for the UN General Assembly, city authorities sent an audible siren alert to smart phones, warning that the suspect was armed and dangerous.

Afghan American Ahmad Khan Rahami was subsequently arrested after a police shootout and charged with attempted murder and using a weapon of mass destruction.

Both presidential candidates weighed in, Donald Trump calling it out as a terrorist attack within hours while Hillary Clinton called for calm in the absence of facts.

Plenty of those have since come out, among them that Rahami had made several trips to Afghanistan since coming to the US as a child, and that his own father had warned the FBI two years ago to keep an eye on his son due to his interest in terrorist organisations.

I think we can call that a fail.

The candidates’ responses in the face of this latest incident may well influence voters who are now only about seven weeks away from having to make a choice.

Monday’s first presidential debate will be one to watch.

He said…

She said…

(In relation to two African-Americans killed by police officers in Oklahoma and North Carolina, sparking violent protests in Charlotte)

Just plane jealous?

The campaign really took flight the other week when Hillary got her own aircraft but Trump has accused her of being a copycat by holding press conferences on the tarmac before taking off:

#NeverTrump Republican operative Rick Wilson was quick to point out that presidential candidates have been holding such press conferences since the 1950s and more recently, George Bush did similarly.

Can you retroactively be a copycat?

While we’re on the topic of the Bush Dynasty — how Senior plans to vote in November made headlines earlier this week after it was reported that he was going to cast his ballot in favour of Clinton — according to the eldest child of Robert F Kennedy.

The spokesman for the former president, Jim McGrath, tried to squash any speculation in a statement saying “the vote President Bush will cast as a private citizen in some 50 days will be just that: a private vote cast in some 50 days”.

Before we leave the Bush name behind for the week, Jeb “exclamation point” appeared in a cameo last Sunday night at the Emmys with Jimmy Kimmel.

Supposedly, he’s driving an Uber now.

This has to be seen to be believed (and the Jeb bloopers need to be watched as well).

It was a busy week on the late night circuit for the candidates — Trump got the Jimmy Fallon treatment and even let him ruffle up his hair.


Hillary took a more obscure talk show route, sitting down with comedian Zach Galifianakis on his eclectic talk show Between Two Ferns.

The pair discuss all the important issues like her “excitement to be the first girl president” and as Secretary (of State), how many words Mrs Clinton could type.

What’s the best way to reach you? Gold.

Blurred lines

The lines between politics and entertainment are increasingly blurry in this campaign and things are also getting downright confusing with the entire cast of The West Wing coming back together to campaign for Hillary in Ohio this weekend.


On a more serious note, this week Donald Trump Jr tweeted an inflammatory analogy about terrorists and Skittles.

Which led to much condemnation, including this:

The pile on against Trump Jr continued when the maker of Skittles, Mars tweeted this:

Vox attempted to debunk the math of the statement but ultimately, this kind of provocative rhetoric has become far too common in the 2016 campaign.

Sad, especially considering the horrors that are actually happening as I write this and as you read it, in Syria.

As US Secretary of State John Kerry said in a furious address to the UN Security Council this week, “this is not a joke”.

Far from it.

Where’s Bernie?

Everyone’s favourite Senator from Vermont is back to being the Senator from Vermont.

Here he is on C-SPAN debating heath care and prescription drug prices.

More interestingly, Hillary’s running mate Tim Kaine revealed this week that his kids actually supported Bernie Sanders during the primary process.

By the numbers

$96.4 million — That’s how much the Clinton campaign and its allies have spent on advertising in the general election race, according to Advertising Analytics.

In comparison, Donald Trump’s campaign and pro-Trump groups have spent just $17.3 million.

It takes a village

The last time Utah went for a Democratic candidate for president?

1964. However, Hillary is making a push for the conservative bastion and its large Mormon population.

This week her campaign launched “Mormons for Hillary”.

Generally, Mormons are hesitant about voting for Trump despite their natural leaning to the GOP. The battle for Mormon voters is certainly on.

Presidential legacy

Expect many legacy pieces on Barack Obama to flood your newsfeeds as his time in office comes to an end.

However, this Vanity Fair piece with Doris Kearns Goodwin is well worth your time.

Can you believe we’re into the 40s?

It’s a downhill run to election day and there are plenty of challenges ahead for the candidates.

First up, the first presidential debate on Monday on Long Island, New York.

We’ll be there.

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