Clinton Weighs Using Trump Against His Party

NYT FDAmy Chozick 7/21/2015

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Good Tuesday morning from Washington. Gov. John R. Kasich of Ohio is expected to join the ever-growing field for the Republican nomination, a field that, despite its numbers, has been increasingly overshadowed by Donald J. Trump. Such a development, however, suits at least one other candidate just fine.

As Mr. Trump surges in the polls and Republican leaders call for him to drop out of the race after his comments about Senator John McCain’s war record, there is one candidate who hopes Mr. Trump continues to thrive: Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Mrs. Clinton has denounced Mr. Trump’s comments about Mexican immigrants, but she has mostly avoided responding directly to him, instead trying to position him as the unbridled subconscious of the Republican Party who says in direct (and offensive) terms what his party rivals have been saying in veiled and polite ways for years.

“It’s not enough to use language of respect if you refuse to support policies of respect,” Mrs. Clinton said.

On Saturday in Arkansas, Mrs. Clinton referred to Mr. Trump as “the Republican front-runner.” Of his rivals, she said, “The sad truth is, if you look at many of their policies, it can be hard to tell the difference.”

She called Mr. McCain “a genuine war hero” and said Mr. Trump’s comments about him were “shameful,” but she didn’t elaborate. Instead, Mrs. Clinton was quick to say it was also shameful “that it took so long for his fellow Republican candidates to start standing up to him.”

Mr. Trump helps Mrs. Clinton, said Paul Begala, a Democratic strategist and former Clinton aide. “It exposes the G.O.P. as the radical right-wing anger society it has become, and has the potential to motivate her base,” he said.

And with Mr. Trump dominating cable news, it’s been days since Mrs. Clinton was the subject of a news media storm over her treatment of the press or her handling of emails related to the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya.

The strategy is simple, said Steven A. Elmendorf, a Washington strategist and lobbyist. “What any Democratic candidate wants is to make sure that the Republican Party owns Donald Trump,” he said.