Clinton has the savvy and experience. Trump has prospered as the outsider who shatters time-honored campaign rules. Clinton, ever the wise tactician, scored last week with her speech denouncing Trump for his "bizarre rants, personal feuds and outright lies." Trump stumbled badly when he criticized the ethnicity of a federal judge who's overseeing a lawsuit against his now-defunct Trump University. Clinton has a skilled organization already at work. Trump is still building his.
Clinton is publicly steady and measured. That strikes many voters as cold and calculating. Others see her style as well-suited to being commander in chief. Trump's break-the-china ways were a major draw for Republican primary voters. Citing the controversy over her private email server while secretary of state, Trump tweeted last week, "Such bad judgment and temperament cannot be allowed in the W.H." Clinton counters that Trump is "temperamentally unfit" for the presidency and "not someone who should ever have the nuclear codes." Last month's CBS News-New York Times poll found 48 percent saw Clinton as having the right temperament to be president, compared with 27 percent who viewed Trump that way.
Trump vows to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a series of steps Republicans have been pushing for years. Clinton counters that the act is working and only needs some adjustments, such as slowing the growth of out-of-pocket expenses. Trump would shrink the current seven income-tax brackets to four, with a top rate of 25 percent. Clinton would add a tax surcharge on incomes over $5 million. Both candidates' views mirror long-held positions by top officials of their parties.
Clinton is the first woman to head a major party ticket, and she gets strong support from women over 50. Trump has a huge following among men and people without college educations. Clinton goes home to a fancy neighborhood in Westchester County, a New York suburb. Trump usually heads to the posh Trump Tower, towering over Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan. Clinton gets strong support from African-Americans and Hispanics. Trump doesn't. Both candidates suffer because nearly two-thirds of voters in the CBS poll don't find either honest or trustworthy.
Trump wants a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States. "I have a very hard-line position," he's said. He's also repeatedly attacked a judge hearing a lawsuit against him, because of the judge's Mexican heritage, prompting many in his own party to call the remarks racist. Clinton wants a path to citizenship for most immigrants who are now in the U.S. illegally. She's supported by several major immigration rights groups and can expect a big turnout from Hispanic voters.
Clinton has to defend her record as secretary of state from 2009 to 2013. Republicans have blasted her for supporting the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, U.S. policies toward Syria and the toppling of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. Trump's foreign policy is a work in progress. He pledges to spend less on "toppling various people," calls American involvement in Iraq a disaster and vows to get tougher on trade. This one's a battle between experience and hope.
Clinton has Bill. Trump has his marital history. Trump won't let Clinton forget her husband's affair with intern Monica Lewinsky in the 1990s and subsequent impeachment. Bill Clinton drew as many favorable as unfavorable marks from voters in last month's Quinnipiac poll. Trump is on his third marriage. But Trump's children are active campaigners and popular with his supporters, and he routinely gathers the family at big events.
Trump's mouth is his biggest risk. His insistence that federal District Judge Gonzalo Curiel has a "conflict of interest" because of his Mexican heritage triggered a firestorm among not only his opponents but also many Republicans. Clinton's biggest worry is the outcome of the FBI's investigation into her use of the email server. Should that be wrapped up this summer, and she is cleared, that controversy will fade. Trump's proclivity to get into rhetorical trouble is less likely to go away.