On the issues … Clinton versus Trump

Published 6:00 am Sunday, May 15, 2016

The issues that will ultimately decide the 2016 presidential election are already being debated by the media and the presumptive candidates to a lesser degree.

As I see it, there are eight primary areas which will drive voters to the polls in record numbers this November.

1. The economy, jobs and taxes. This is the most volatile one of the field and ultimately the most significant in the minds of the electorate. Trump should hold a clear advantage here for several reasons. First of all, he has created thousands of jobs while compiling an $11 billion empire. Clinton is at the mercy of the national economy and will rise and fall with however the eighth year of the Obama administration plays out. Some pundits are already predicting the country entering a recession sometime this year. Should this materialize, the party typically holding power loses.

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2. Foreign involvement. The debate over the Middle East and “who got us into this mess” will certainly escalate. Benghazi will become a household name by Election Day and Clinton’s other failures as Secretary of State will be recycled repeatedly. On the other hand, Trump’s inexperience and called ban of Muslims entering the U.S. will be countered by the Democrats. It’s difficult to imagine this issue being a strength for Clinton especially when more than 60 percent of Republicans in exit polls in 18 states during the primaries agreed with the Donald regarding the ban. Advantage Trump.

3. Immigration. Who’s going to build the wall and who will pay for it? The primary issue that is the cornerstone of Trump’s rise to the GOP nomination will continue to be criticized by Clinton. The proposed deportation of 11 million illegals should be featured in Democrat ads condemning Trump. It’s difficult currently to predict how this issue evolves and which party ultimately holds the advantage. However, should there be another terrorist attack between now and November, the issue will no longer be in doubt. Clearly the advantage then will be with Trump.

4. Women’s issues. What appears to be a solid edge for Clinton may not be as strong as initially thought. The former president’s history has already entered the discussion and will continue to do so. And the $64,000 question that is already being asked, is in a public life spanning 30 years, what is Hillary’s greatest success involving women other than her own political ascension? The answer has not yet been forthcoming.

5. Health care. Obamacare is as popular as $5-a-gallon gas. Also, Hillary’s previously failed plan during the Clinton administration is sure to resurface. On the other hand, Trump’s proposed solution of eliminating state monopolies will be scrutinized much more closely and require greater definition. Often the unknown is preferable to a policy that is already held in public contempt. Advantage Trump.

6. Terrorism. For the most part, the seven-plus years of the Obama administration have received good marks as to attacks on U.S. soil. On the other hand, the rise of ISIS under this administration’s watch receives the most criticism by Republican opponents. Should the remaining six months of 2016 be void of any new activity, the advantage here will rest with Clinton. A new ISIS resurgence will change this in a New York minute, however.

7. The Obama Legacy. Hillary is joined at the hip and will rise and fall with the perception of his final grade as commander in chief. The doubling of the debt during his tenure; the massive reduction in military readiness; the lack of respect by foreign adversaries; and the erosion of middle-class earnings are all so very troublesome for Clinton. The recently negotiated agreement with Iran is also not playing well either in Peoria. This should be a significant advantage to Trump and the Republicans. It’s difficult to believe that these talking points can be overturned or even minimized in the final year of the Obama presidency.

8. Personal ethics. Of all these topics, this will definitely be the hottest entering the fall. In my lifetime, there has never been a major candidate for the presidency under FBI investigation. Despite Clinton’s downplaying of this as a “security review” is not convincing either critics or the media. Calls for her exiting the race are already being shouted. Trump too has his concerns, such as the troubled Trump University. This civil matter, however, is pale in comparison to the storm clouds over Clinton. This issue is advantage Trump and may be key in influencing independents.

There you have it — a five to three edge (currently) for the GOP outsider. How well these positions are presented to the voters will be the ultimate test.

Steve Vassallo is a contributing columnist and Oxford resident. He can be reached at sovassallo@gmail.com.