HillaryClinton.com recently posted a story listing what it considered Donald Trump’s biggest fails. But the campaign staffer who posted the story unwittingly trolled Clinton with the headline, “126 things Donald Trump has said and done that, in a normal election, would disqualify a nominee.” This is not a normal election. Even though Trump has the most unfavorable image of any presidential candidate in history, Americans almost equally dislike and distrust Clinton. From her days as first lady up to the scandal involving her private email server, Clinton’s reputation has been hurt not by some “vast right-wing conspiracy,” but by her own bad judgment.
5. She’s a Political Insider When Public Distrusts Politicians
The American public is tired of politics as usual. That dislike for the status quo and the political establishment fueled the unlikely rise of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump’s campaigns. They’re certainly not polished, but they appeal to part of the electorate that feels ignored by Washington. On the other hand, Clinton is the ultimate establishment candidate and Washington insider. Trump is trying to use that insider image against her. A September 2016 Gallup poll found that only 8 percent of Americans have a “great deal” of trust in the federal government in handling domestic issues. Without question, Clinton’s embodiment of the Washington establishment led many Democrats to support Sanders in the primaries, and will inspire many independents — and even Republicans — who otherwise find Trump extremely unlikable to vote for him in the general election.
4. She’s Been Involved in Many Controversial Situations
Hillary Rodham Clinton has been in the public spotlight for 40 years, so she carries plenty of political baggage. Older Americans remember incidents from her years as first lady, and even her time in Arkansas. How did Clinton turn a $1,000 investment in cattle futures into almost $100,000 in just 10 months? Did the Clintons really fire seven employees in the White House Travel Office just so they could give their friends jobs? Did she support her husband’s controversial decision to pardon 16 Puerto Rican terrorists because it would help her bid for the Senate in New York? (After a public outcry, she changed her position). Obviously, not all the allegations of improper activity are true, but there are enough issues in Clinton’s past that many people are suspicious.
3. Many Blame Clinton For Obscuring Facts on Benghazi
Congressional Republicans have spent millions of dollars investigating the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Democrats believe the investigation has been entirely politically motivated, designed to hurt Clinton’s presidential bid. Republicans claim Clinton bears responsibility for not providing additional security that might have stopped that deadly attack; Clinton says funding cuts were to blame for the security situation. The House Select Committee on Benghazi did reveal Clinton emailed her daughter the night of the attack and said an “Al-Qaeda-like group” carried out the attack. Yet for almost a week afterward, Clinton and the Obama administration publicly claimed the attack grew out of a spontaneous protest over an anti-Islamic film.
As Clinton herself infamously noted during 2013 Senate testimony on the cause of the attack, “What difference at this point does it make?” But the issue does matter to many Americans. A 2015 poll found that 40 percent of independent respondents were not satisfied with Clinton’s response to the Benghazi attack.
2. Clinton’s Private Server, Coverup Bother Even Democrats
One point that often seems to be overlooked in talk about Clinton’s use of a private server for government business is her reason for installing the server. It’s now clear she set it up to prevent her emails from coming under public scrutiny. John Q. Public doesn’t need to be a political analyst to wonder, “What was she trying to hide?” And Clinton repeatedly lied, or at least hedged the truth, when explaining various details of her use of the server (“I never received nor sent any material that was marked classified.”) FBI Director James Comey’s decision not to seek a criminal indictment of Clinton upset many people. A Rasmussen Poll found 79 percent of Republicans disagreed with the decision not to indict Clinton, which is not surprising, but so did 63 percent of unaffiliated voters and even 25 percent of Democrats.
1. Clinton Doesn’t Seem Like a Very Nice Person
Even many Republicans who vehemently disagree with Barack Obama’s political views agree he’s a nice guy, someone you might want to hang out with at the local bar (beer summit, anyone?). Few people seem to get that warm and fuzzy feeling about Hillary Clinton. Anecdotal evidence must be viewed with some suspicion, but there are plenty of interesting stories out there about Clinton’s behavior away from the public eye. The 2015 book First Family Detail: Secret Service Agents Reveal the Hidden Lives of the Presidents, described assignment to Hillary Clinton’s detail as a form of punishment. As former Secret Service agent Lloyd Bulman notes in the book, “She was just really rude to almost everybody. She’d act like she didn’t want you around, like you were beneath her.”
Here’s a fine article on Slate.com detailing Americans who don’t like or trust Clinton because of her past actions. In the end, Clinton’s saving grace in this election is that Trump may be the most unlikable presidential candidate in history, and many Americans have questions about his temperament and qualifications. And while Clinton has some skeletons in her closet, so does Trump.
One More: Clinton Foundation Report Raises Questions
An Associated Press report in August found more than half of the people from the private sector who met with Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state had given money to the Clinton Foundation. At least 40 of those donors gave more than $100,000, and 20 gave more than $1 million. To be fair, the AP report did not cite any illegal activity in those donations. And a Clinton spokesperson said, “It is outrageous to misrepresent Secretary Clinton’s basis for meeting with these individuals.” Still, many voters believe that such donations look suspiciously like so-called “pay for play” arrangements that benefit the wealthy and those with political connections. It’s yet another reason so many people do not trust government.