U.S. Election 2016

The U.S. campaign shifts to Aleppo. 'What is Aleppo?'

Maclean’s Bulldog, Sept. 8: Your daily rundown of what happened today on the U.S. campaign trail

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks to members of the media before boarding her campaign plane at Westchester County Airport. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Hillary Clinton speaks to the media before boarding her campaign plane at Westchester County Airport. (Andrew Harnik, AP)

Sept. 8, 2016: Our daily Bulldog election-campaign recaps return as the critical stretch of the U.S. election begins. On Thursday, Hillary Clinton held a rare press conference, but the U.S. media was focused on a blunder by a third-party candidate poised to be a spoiler come Election Day.

Here’s what you need to know from today on the campaign trail.

Hillary Clinton holds a press conference!

Why is this news? Because it has been 278 days since she last held a formal one. Clinton has mostly dodged media on her campaign for 10 months. No wonder journalists laughed when she told them earlier this week she was “happy” to join them aboard her flight for a brief question-and-answer session. With polls tightening, Clinton fielded six questions during 15 minutes, ranging from polls to the previous night’s foreign policy forum. No one asked about emails, but they did ask her about the one thing on many people’s mind today: Aleppo, Syria.

And what is Aleppo?

Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson had run a relatively error-free campaign—until today. During an MSNBC interview Thursday morning, he was asked what he would do about Aleppo, if elected. “And what is Aleppo?” Johnson replied.

The MSNBC anchor answered, albeit stunned he had to tell a presidential candidate about the war-torn Syrian city.

During an interview right after the appearance, Johnson said he was “incredibly frustrated with myself.”

For a third-party candidate polling around 10 per cent, some are wondering if this stumble will cost Johnson his chance at reaching the coveted 15 per cent mark—the polling threshold he needs to be included in the presidential debates alongside Trump and Clinton.

Still wondering yourself what Aleppo is? Here’s Vox explainer.

Inside Trump’s National Intelligence briefing

At his recent briefing with National Intelligence, Trump brought retired general Mike Flynn, one of his key advisers. According an NBC report published Thursday, when intelligence officials were briefing the Republican nominee, Flynn repeatedly interrupted with questions. At one point, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had to tell Flynn to calm down.

During Wednesday night’s presidential forum, Trump said that he inferred the intelligence officials at the meeting weren’t pleased with President Obama, saying: “I’m pretty good with the body language. I could tell they were not happy.” Trump’s adviser, however, may not have that particular skill.

Armchair general

During Wednesday’s forum on national security, Trump suggested that the current crop of generals have been “reduced to a point where it’s embarrassing to our country.” If elected, Trump said he’d seek out military advice from those in command, but “they’d probably be different generals, to be honest with you.” Clinton, meanwhile, announced Thursday that she will meet this week with former national security advisers, including a former Homeland Security head during the Bush Administration, to talk about dealing with terrorist threats.

Open House

Winning the presidency is one challenge for the Democrats. Taking away the majority Republicans have held in the House of Representatives since 2011 is a steeper hill to climb—but it’s one within reach, according to House minority leader Nancy Pelosi. “If Hillary [Clinton] were to win 54-46, oh my God. It’s all over,” the Democrat said in an interview with Politico. “If it’s 53-47, and I think that’s in the realm of possibility … that’s a big deal.”

Is North Carolina turning red?

Trump is starting to turn the tide in some key states, namely North Carolina where a new poll of likely voters conducted by Suffolk University has him leading Clinton 44 per cent to 41 per cent. Other recent polls of the state of favoured Clinton, but if anything, this poll shows the state is no shoo-in for either side.

Why so serious?

After Clinton’s appearance at the presidential forum Wednesday night, the chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), Reince Priebus, made a comment on Twitter criticizing her—for not smiling.

The comment spurred the hashtag #PresidentialFace on tweets in which women took unsmiling selfies. When asked about her lack of a grin, Clinton replied: “I don’t take advice and I don’t take anything seriously that comes from the RNC. We were talking about serious issues last night.”

Recommended read

Fear of a Female President” (The Atlantic)

It’s tough to imagine criticizing a presidential candidate for not smiling enough when discussing issues of foreign policy and terrorism. And yet, Clinton was criticized by the head of the Republican National Committee for just that. The double-standard for Clinton, the first ever female presidential nominee in the U.S., is often much worse.


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