Everything was coming up Hillary Clinton just seven day ago.
Buffeted by allegations of sexual assault and his penchant for self-inflicted wounds, Donald Trump was floundering. And as Trump flopped, Clinton soared — rolling her momentum from a clean sweep of the debates into the final weeks of the campaign. The question seemed to be not whether Clinton would win but by how much she would win by as her campaign moved aggressively into reliably Republican states like Arizona, Georgia and even Texas.
Then this week happened.
It started Monday with the news that the average premium hike in 2017 for people participating in some of the popular health plans available on the federal exchange (as part of Obamacare) would be 25 percent. That confirmed — to many Republicans — that everything they had predicted about the Affordable Care Act was coming true. High prices, limited availability, major insurers — like Aetna — pulling out. For a candidate like Clinton who has explicitly run as the logical heir to President Barack Obama, it was less-than-welcome news.
Then came the release of a memo penned by Bill Clinton confidante Doug Band via the hacker consortium WikiLeaks. In the memo, Band outlines how he used the former president’s celebrity as a lure to generate donations to the Clinton Foundation. That’s not illegal. But it doesn’t look good — particularly since the Clintons have long insisted that there is a wall between their political lives and the work of the Foundation.
But all of that bad news paled in comparison to what happened on Friday afternoon when FBI Director James Comey announced that new emails had been discovered that were considered potentially pertinent to the investigation into Clinton’s private email server while at the State Department. That the emails were found on a computer shared by former Rep. Anthony Weiner and longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin made things even worse for Clinton as it brought up the fact that Weiner is under investigation due to allegations of sexting with underaged girls.
Clinton and her campaign fought back against Comey aggressively, insisting he has stepped well beyond his duties — particularly this close to the election. And it’s not at all clear that the 1,000 (or so) emails found on the Abedin-Weiner computer aren’t duplicates of emails already reviewed by the FBI.
But, for Clinton, the damage — at least at the moment — is done. The conversation in the race is now all about emails. And whether Clinton did or didn’t do anything wrong. (Comey announced in July that Clinton hadn’t done anything criminal; she had broken rules, but without intent.) That means Trump was out of the spotlight, which is the best/only place for him to be if he wants to have a chance at a comeback.
At the start of this week, it looked like Clinton was running away with the 2016 race. She still might, but the last seven days aren’t at all how she wanted to close the campaign.