The remaining days of the 2016 presidential campaign will be about a lot of things — some we can't even anticipate now. But I am willing to bet the election turns on a couple of questions:
1. How much more defining/damaging information can be pried loose from Hillary Clinton's past?
There is a futures market for mining Clinton’s record, especially the email option. Plenty of enemies like the Return on Investment of their time and money to probe that and they aren’t letting up. Clinton's handlers can't spin their way out of the shaft she'll be in if the new batch of 15,000 emails (actually documents, some of which are emails) yields more trouble. Clinton assures us they are “boring.” If they are, fine. If they lead to more questions she better have a positive message to bail her out of this fix.
2. How much air freshener and whitewash can Donald Trump apply to the stinky-toxic-graffiti campaign he ran on the road to winning the nomination?
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His early controversial stand on immigration and his flippant remarks during campaign stops have a stubborn half-life, and he has quite a distance to walk them back. If Trump manages to reverse his fortunes we'll be able to trace the turning point back to the moment he hired new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, and then — finally — started doing what he was told.
Obviously there is a lot riding on the first of the presidential debates Sept. 26, but Trump's winning record in debates and his 17-0 streak against opponents cannot be discounted. There is a ton of polling going against him, and formidable pushback from his own party continues to dog him.
This is Clinton's race to lose, right?
The fact that Trump is still in the game at this point says more about her shaky status than his. It also tells me that people haven’t really started to tune in yet to this election. I’m guessing Trump makes up some slow and steady ground into mid-September.
Trump should release his tax returns sooner rather than later — it is the wise and transparent thing to do. But the truth is, only Clinton supporters really care about seeing them so they can change the conversation. Trump fans only see and hear what they want to see and hear.