The Corner

Politics & Policy

Clinton Campaign Rushes to Dismiss Brexit/Trump Comparisons

The Clinton campaign spun into damage-control mode in the wake of yesterday’s shock vote by the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, insisting that the populist wave that sunk Prime Minister David Cameron will not reach American shores come November.

“It is really important to recognize that a vote on whether the U.K. stays in or leaves the European Union is profoundly different from a vote for who should be president and commander-in-chief of the United States,” top Clinton advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters during a call with reporters Friday afternoon.

Sullivan said that working-class angst — which seems to be contributing to Donald Trump’s relative success in the United States — was not necessarily the driving force behind the Brexit vote. Local factors were at work, he argued, pointing out that working-class people in Scotland and Northern Ireland voted very differently than their peers in England and Wales. “This American election is about what is happening here in America, not what is happening in Yorkshire or in Cardiff,” he said.

Clinton had openly supported the Remain campaign, arguing that a U.K. withdrawal from the EU would spark economic instability and undermine European security. Trump remained largely neutral before the vote, but at a press conference on one of his Scottish golf courses this morning he praised the people of Britain for “[taking] back their country.”

The Clinton campaign blasted Trump’s glee over the withdrawal. “Donald Trump actively rooted for this outcome and the economic turmoil in [its] wake,” said Sullivan, arguing that Americans “need a steady hand in times of uncertainty, not a reckless egomanic.”

Clinton aides also ridiculed Trump’s decision to spend several minutes hawking his Scottish resort during an internationally televised press conference. “There is a lot of talk this week [of] a campaign reset for the Trump campaign,” said Christina Reynolds, Clinton’s deputy communications director. “What Donald Trump proved is you can change the campaign manager, but not the candidate.” (Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, widely seen as a destabilizing force in the presumptive Republican nominee’s orbit, was fired on Monday.)

Again and again, journalists continued to press the Clinton campaign on whether the outcome of the Brexit vote augured a Trump victory in November. “We have a real confidence that Americans are a generous, tolerant, big-hearted people who believe deeply that we are stronger together,” said Sullivan, echoing the Remain campaign’s unsuccessful “Stronger Together” slogan.

Sullivan further suggested that the economic upheaval likely to roil Britain over the next several months could prove to Clinton’s benefit, causing Americans to use their “common sense” and think twice about electing a destabilizing force such as Trump. “We’re very confident that when all of that is factored in, we need someone like Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office, not someone reckless, erratic, and divisive like Donald Trump,” he said.

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