Democrats will spin this as desperate and sexist, one of their standard attack lines even under normal circumstances but more so now after the “Access Hollywood” debacle. There’s a chance, though, that this will bear some fruit for him. If you’re going to kitchen-sink it, questioning Hillary’s spine on terror is more likely to resonate with voters, I’d bet, than revisiting the Paula Jones charges again. A noteworthy poll from YouGov, published last year:
More than a quarter of the electorate thinks male politicians are tougher on national defense than females, and nearly a quarter of the electorate — 22 percent — believed as of last March that America wasn’t yet ready for a woman president. A friend told me just a few days ago that her very religious but traditionally Democratic grandmother is uneasy with voting for Hillary because she believes women aren’t supposed to be national leaders. There’s an audience out there that’ll be receptive to a message analogizing national weakness to Clinton’s coughing, fainting physical weakness. The question, I guess, is what percentage of that audience requires further persuasion in the form of an ad like this. If you’re chilly to the idea of a woman president, chances are your mind was made up about your vote in this election a long time ago. If you’re undecided but still open to the possibility of a woman C-in-C after widespread news coverage of Hillary going limp from pneumonia at the 9/11 event in Manhattan last month, what are the odds that you’ll be moved by an ad like this having just observed her in seemingly good health at two debates?
The ad seems mostly aimed at Trump’s base, actually, since it reprises all the greatest hits of the Clinton Health Watch coverage in online conservative media this year — the coughing, the pic of her being helped after she slipped on some stairs, and of course the swoon heard ’round the world. It’s a form of fan service. Contrast that with the second spot below, from Team Hillary, which is aimed at Utah’s normally deep red but possibly-purplish-this-year electorate. It’s the whole election in a nutshell right now, with Trump trying to boost sagging morale on the right while Clinton plays offense in what’s supposed to be a safely Republican state.