- By Molly O’TooleMolly O’Toole is a senior reporter at Foreign Policy, covering immigration, refugees, and national security. She was FP’s sole 2016 presidential campaign reporter, on the trail from New Hampshire to Nevada. Previously, she covered the politics of national security for Atlantic Media’s Defense One, where she reported from Congress, the White House, the Pentagon, and the State Department. Before that, she was a news editor at the Huffington Post. Molly has also reported on national and international politics for Reuters, the Nation, The Associated Press, and Newsweek International, among others, from Washington, New York, Mexico City, and London. She received her dual master’s degree in journalism and international relations from New York University and her bachelor’s from Cornell University and in 2016 was a grant recipient of the International Women’s Media Foundation. She will always be a Californian.
Enter Hillary Clinton’s political “War Room” with Ted Cruz, where actors playing Huma Abedin and other Clinton campaign aides tell the former secretary of state that Donald Trump’s foreign policy views leave him unelectable but then give her some bad news: She’d trounce Trump, but she can’t beat the Texas senator.
Clinton’s commanding victory in New York Tuesday all but cemented her grip on the nomination, and Republican candidates are now going full-bore at the former secretary of state. In their minds, the Democrats have already entered general election season, and each is battling to convince Republican voters — some with glossy but bizarre campaign ads — that he’s the only one who can beat her.
In Cruz’s new, web-only spot, the campaign operatives mock Trump’s divisive recent comments about abortion and say the IRS believes there are “bombshells” buried in the tax returns Trump has refused to release. The mogul’s foreign policy views, the aides say, give Clinton even more ammunition to use against him.
“Speaking of bombshells, Trump wants to stabilize the Korean peninsula by giving Japan and South Korea nuclear weapons,” one aide says.
Abedin responds: “Scary.”
Says another operative: “And he wants to break apart NATO and the UN, and turn our troops into rent-a-cops.”
“Where did he study foreign policy? Trump University?” Abedin quips.
The real threat, the aides say, comes from Ted Cruz. Abedin demands to know they can stop him. The blunt reply: “I don’t think we can.” Here’s the full spot:
Cruz is using the argument to highlight that the GOP front-runner Trump — who beat the Texan in New York on Tuesday by roughly 45 percentage points — has consistently trailed Clinton in general election polling. As of Thursday,, Clinton was up more than nine points on Trump.
But the irony of the ad is that Cruz, too, has consistently lost in polls that put him head-to-head with Clinton. On Thursday, Real Clear Politics’ average showed Cruz trailing Clinton by two points.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who trails far behind the both in the delegate count, fares best against Clinton. Unfortunately for the GOP, Kasich’s only shot at the nomination would come if Trump failed to secure the required delegate count, forcing a contested convention where the Ohioan would emerge as the consensus choice.
As of Thursday, Kasich led Clinton by nearly eight points in a general election, according to the polling average.
Kasich, who came in second in New York with roughly 25 percent of the vote, consistently cites these numbers to weather continued calls for him to drop out. He’s counting on the upcoming primaries on Tuesday in Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania to pick up a few more delegates and help further quiet the critics.
Kasich amplified that argument in an interview with the Washington Post Wednesday, arguing that he was the only capable of beating Clinton.
“The last poll that we saw up there I was running five points behind Hillary. Five. Trump was getting slaughtered,” he said. “I win in the fall every time, even in that electoral deal, and Trump gets slaughtered.”
Photo credit: Win McNamee / Staff