March 15, 2016

MEMO: Hillary Clinton’s Latest Gaffes Spell Trouble For Manufacturing State Dems

Hillary Clinton kicked a week full of primaries in manufacturing-heavy states with major gaffes about outsourcing jobs and killing the coal industry. While Clinton’s campaign is already trying to clean up her messy comments, they are sure to reverberate down the ballot.

First, in a 2005 video unearthed by Fox News, then-Senator Hillary Clinton is seen at a conference in India saying that outsourcing – which she frequently rails against – is “an inevitability” and that “there is no way to legislate” against it.

Then Clinton used a CNN town hall Sunday evening to trash the coal industry, saying “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”

Both statements likely caused some heartburn among Democrats facing House and Senate primaries in states voting on Tuesday, like Ohio, Illinois, and Missouri, and beyond, like Pennsylvania. And then there’s states like Colorado, where Bernie Sanders’ caucus win has already exposed divisions between pro-Clinton establishment Democrats and pro-Sanders grassroots activists.

Here are the Democrats in the hot seat thanks to Clinton’s gaffes:

Ted Strickland (OH) – With his uninspiring campaign and lagging fundraising, “Retread” Ted needs all the help he can get. He’s even attacked Republicans on outsourcing despite having steered stimulus funds to a company that outsourced jobs as governor. An early endorser of Clinton in both 2008 and 2016, Strickland is perhaps most closely tied to her of any down-ballot candidate.

Tammy Duckworth (IL) – Another early endorser of Clinton, Duckworth has been conspicuously absent on the campaign trail for her presidential pick – although whether she’s keeping her distance from Clinton’s hot takes on coal and outsourcing, or her toxic ties to embattled Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, is unclear.

Jason Kander (MO) – Add outsourcing and coal to the list of items Kander needs to distance himself from Clinton on. The Missouri Democrat has already run away from President Obama and Clinton on issue after issue in a transparent attempt to pander to red state voters that he’s barely identifiable as a Democrat – until you look at his record, that is.

Katie McGinty (PA) – In a three-way Democratic senate primary that has become a race to the left, McGinty has already come under fire from the left for her record as a fracking lobbyist and her campaign cash from the oil and gas industry. Will she piggyback off of Clinton’s anti-coal rhetoric in a bid to win the primary while alienating general election voters in Coal Country? And, as the only candidate who has endorsed Clinton (John Fetterman has endorsed Bernie Sanders and Joe Sestak is remaining neutral) will McGinty have to answer for Clinton’s outsourcing doubletalk?

Michael Bennet (CO) – Bennet already has a Clinton problem, after he allied himself closely with her campaign only to have Bernie Sanders win the Colorado caucuses in a landslide. For Bennet, Clinton’s dual gaffes are a double whammy – her outsourcing answer is likely to further rankle the grassroots and her coal comments are sure to turn off moderate and independent voters that are critical to any statewide victory in the Centennial State.

Russ Feingold (WI) – Feingold has made it no secret that he Feels The Bern when it comes to many issues, from health care to trade, but he’s stopped short of endorsing in the presidential race. However, in 2013 Feingold said Democrats should “choose the kind of people who vote against not for trade agreements that ship our jobs overseas.” Would that include Hillary Clinton?

If the Clinton gaffe machine keeps up, Democrats in key states may let go of her coattails and start running for cover.