The 2016 presidential election in the United States is shaping up to be a memorable one, and many are bracing themselves for an onslaught of negative campaigning.
While former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may run her Democratic campaign along the traditional model, presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump has indicated that he will be running a particularly brutal campaign against Clinton in the general election.
No one can accuse the Donald of not being honest about what he thinks of his political opponents.
In recent days, Trump has been heavily attacking the Clintons by invoking former president Bill Clinton's sexual past and describing Mrs. Clinton as an 'enabler,' according to The New York Times. Hillary has indicated that she does not plan on responding to these attacks, telling reporters:
"I’m running my campaign. I’m not running against him. He’s doing a fine job of doing that himself."
Clinton is exactly right. By responding to these attacks, she would be allowing Mr. Trump to set the terms of discourse between the two campaigns for the general election. Such an action would make the former secretary look weaker both in the eyes of supporters and opponents.
In a CNN interview with Chris Cuomo on May 9, Trump doubled down on his statements about the Clintons and contradicted himself several times in the process: He first said his comments knocking Hillary for being an "enabler" were blown out of proportion, adding that they were only in response to Hillary's own attacks on him. He then switched gears, saying the substance of his attack was a "big thing."
Trump's tendency to make brash remarks about his opponents only to contradict his own statements multiple times is nothing new, and he can't get away with it forever.
Millions of voters have yet to cast a ballot, and Trump is such a polarizing figure that it's impossible to tell if his unconventional campaign strategy, coupled with his over-the-top personality, will help or hurt him in the general election. Trump's popularity is highly variable, which makes him a dangerous candidate for the Democrats in a different way than, say, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
As such, Hillary should leave petty insults and personal attacks to the side -- and maybe have surrogates do the job if necessary. She has nothing to gain by stooping to Trump's level, and voters will not reward her for doing so.