As FBI director James Comey concluded his statement on the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s email server, the good news for Clinton was that she had not been indicted, the bad news was everything else.
“If you made a list of what Clinton said of the email story and wanted to check it off – ‘never sent classified information,’ not true; ‘I turned over everything,’ not true – if you just made that check list, it would be not true, not true, not true, not true,” Martin says. “So when people say, ‘I can’t trust her,’ this is not good.”
Potentially even worse than that is the language that Comey used to describe Clinton’s shortcomings.
“He used terms and phrases like, ‘no reasonable person,’ and, ‘bad judgement,’” Martin says. “You can just imagine the campaign ads that can be made from this.”
Though Comey’s statement undeniably opened a large avenue of attack for Trump, Martin says Trump is mishandling his response, and could be missing a golden opportunity to make hay of a campaign issue that will last until November.
“The narrative of a rigged system is difficult to sell because, look at Comey’s background,” Martin says. “He’s a Bush appointee with a non-partisan reputation. The way he describes how the investigation was done, it doesn’t seem it was rigged. And indeed his statement was highly critical, so I don’t think the rigged system attack sticks.”
“The other thing is the fact where Trump’s campaign doesn’t have any money comes into play,” Martin adds. “If his campaign had money, they could have an ad in 15 minutes. That lack of cash hampers his ability to put a message out.”
Martin is an SMU assistant professor of Communication Studies in the Meadows School of the Arts. She can discuss:
- economic messages in political campaigns
- presidential campaign strategy
- religious voters and evangelical social movements