Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump converged in their responses to two police shootings and one sniper attack on police this week after trading barbs over the real estate magnate’s business record in Atlantic City. Trump came out the worse for wear this week after Clinton’s appearance in New Jersey gained national attention and an ill-advised tweet led to allegations of anti-Semitism inside the Trump campaign.
The former Secretary of State, meanwhile, saw her protracted email scandal slow back down to a simmer as FBI Director James Comey announced he would not be pursuing criminal charges. The U.S. State Department will resume its probe into Clinton’s handling of classified material, but the presumptive Democratic is in the clear for now.
Trump had a difficult week: a tweet from his campaign drew accusations of anti-semitic dog-whistle pandering to white supremacist groups, he had to walk back comments praising Saddam Hussein for “killing terrorists,” and Clinton’s attacks on his bankruptcies and stiffing of contractors in Atlantic City hit their mark. Trump also offered an ambiguous reply to reporters this week when asked whether he would decline to take office after winning the presidency, saying “I’ll let you know how I feel about it after it happens.”
A Pew Research Center poll released Friday shows Clinton leading Trump 51-42.
“Everything falls apart, people get hurt, and Donald gets paid,” Clinton said on the Atlantic City boardwalk, making her most detailed case yet against Trump’s character and competency.
This week also saw the first signs that primary opponent Bernie Sanders may be coming around to helping Clinton court the significant progressive wing of the party that favored him during the long nominating process.
Though Sanders seems unlikely to endorse before the Democratic National Convention this month, he offered uncharacteristic praise for Clinton’s new college plan. That suite of legislation would grant tuition-free enrollment for in-state college students from families making below $85,000 a year and offer a three-month moratorium on student loan repayments to federal lenders.
“This proposal, when implemented, will revolutionize the funding of higher education in America, improve the economic future of our country and make life immediately better for tens of millions of people stuck with high levels of student debt,” Sanders said in the statement.
In the aftermath of the police shootings of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota, a 25 year-old army veteran opened fire on a Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas. That attack left five police officers dead, with the shooter telling police during an hours-long standoff that he wanted retribution for victims of police shootings.
Clinton and Trump spoke out against all three shootings in turn, and both canceled campaign appearances Friday.
“I mourn for the officers shot while doing their sacred duty to protect peaceful protesters, for their families and all who serve with them,” Clinton wrote on Twitter.
“Something is profoundly wrong when so many Americans have reason to believe that our country doesn’t consider them as precious as other because of the color of their skin.”
“The senseless tragic deaths of two motorists in Louisiana and Minnesota reminds us how much needs to be done,” Trump wrote in his own statement. “Racial tensions have gotten worse, not better.
“It is a coordinated, premeditated, assault on the men and women who keep us safe,” he said of the Dallas shooting. “We must restore law and order.”
Though Trump defended the allegedly anti-semitic tweet, one state campaign chairman’s remarks on Facebook. were a bridge too far. Virginia chairman Corey Stewart called Clinton directly responsible for the shooting in Dallas.
“Liberal politicians who label police as racists — specifically Hillary Clinton and Virginia Lt. Governor Ralph Northam — are to blame for essentially encouraging the murder of these police officers tonight,” Stewart wrote.
“Corey does not speak for the campaign and this is not something we agree with,” said Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for the Trump campaign.
Despite his doubling down on the tweet, which showed Clinton against a background of stacked cash with a six-pointed star reading “most corrupt candidate ever,” that swift disavowal could be the first sign that Trump’s campaign is concerned about going too far.