As the 2016 presidential election ramped up, Democrats and Republicans alike expected the race to come down to Republican former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida against Democrat Hillary Clinton. But as summer 2015 came to an end, it was clear the election would not be a typical one.
The Republican field began at a swollen 16 candidates, then dropped to three, and eventually Donald Trump emerged as the presumptive nominee.
New emails reveal that Clinton and the Democrats watching on were happy Trump was their challenger as they believed he would be an easy competitor to defeat.
“Bush sucked,” an email by Neera Tanden, an adviser to Clinton, said to John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chair, following the first Republican debate in August, reports Politico. “I’m glad Hillary is obsessed with the one candidate who would be easiest to beat :) Besides Trump, of course.”
“I know you can’t look past Bernie and March primaries,” Joel Johnson, a senior Clinton strategist wrote in an email to campaign communications director Jennifer Palmieri in February. “But who is in charge of the Trump swift boat project? Needs to be ready, funded and unleashed when we decided -- but not a half assed scramble."
“I am so looking forward to it,” Clinton said of debating Trump after she won the New Jersey Democratic primary in June, reports ABC News. “Absolutely. I really am. I think it will be a singular moment in American history because I think I’ll have every chance to make clear why I believe he is not qualified and temperamentally unfit to be president.”
“Trump’s dominance with older high school-educated white males is remarkable. That’s a group that’s been trending away from the Democrats and toward Republicans for a long time. He has driven away college-educated whites,” Paul Begala, an adviser to pro-Clinton superPAC Priorities USA Action, and a Clinton adviser, predicted. Begala, like others in the Clinton sphere, all but dismissed Trump. “So what Trump is doing -- and this will be his legacy when he loses -- is handing the suburbs to the Democratic Party."
Clinton ultimately edged out Trump in the popular vote, but Trump handed Clinton a stunning upset in the electoral vote, securing 290 electoral votes to Clinton’s 228 -- the lowest of any Democrat since 1988.