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Hillary Clinton's Convention Bump Won't Last

Since the conventions came to an end, all we've heard about is how Donald Trump has lost it -- how he's engaged in a war of words with a Gold Star family, how he's jokingly or not jokingly thrown babies out of his rallies, how his ignorance is only surpassed by that of his representatives and surrogates.

And all of that's true. Trump's biggest enemy is himself. He doesn't know when or how to keep his mouth shut, and at least half a dozen times he's ripped unflattering attention away from rival Hillary Clinton only to stick his foot in his mouth and get caught up in a controversy of his own making.

When the Democrats found themselves the victims of yet another data breach, Trump helpfully embroiled himself in another mini scandal, diverting attention from Clinton when he should have taken a step back, kept quiet and allowed his opponent to squirm.

When Clinton's latest evasive answers on her email scandal should've dominated headlines, Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson stepped in and, on national TV, blamed President Barack Obama for Army Capt. Humayun Khan's death -- even though Obama was barely a blip on the radar of national politics at the time and was not yet president.

But buried beneath Trump's troubles is another narrative. While Clinton has enjoyed a post-convention bump and is now polling ahead of Trump, she hasn't completely pulled away. The kind of mistakes Trump's made would have sunk any other candidate in any other race.

Trump is immune to many of the normal expectations governing presidential candidates, it's true. But the fact that he's still in the race, and still within striking distance despite all he's done to bungle the race, says volumes about how disliked Clinton is by the American electorate.

These past few days have reminded voters of Clinton's glaring weaknesses.

During an interview with Fox News' Chris Wallace, the Democratic nominee doubled down on her insistence that she'd done nothing wrong with her handling of classified emails, and her claim that FBI Director James Comey had vindicated her.

Wallace pressed the former secretary of state, reminding her of Comey's harsh rebuke, when he said Clinton had been "extremely careless" with data security, and acknowledged that Clinton's aides had deleted around 30,000 emails that could not be recovered.

“That's not what I heard Director Comey say ... Director Comey said that my answers were truthful and what I've said is consistent with what I have told the American people, that there were decisions discussed and made to classify retroactively certain of the emails,” Clinton said.

On Aug. 5, Clinton decided to end her 240-day-plus stretch without a press conference by taking questions from a friendly audience.

She didn't admit she'd lied -- again -- about the email scandal and Comey's words. Instead, she told reporters, she “may have short-circuited” during the interview with Wallace. Then she tripled down on her claims.

“I was pointing out in both of those instances that Director Comey had said that my answers in my FBI interview were truthful,” Clinton said, according to The New York Times. “That’s really the bottom line here.”

The takeaway here, aside from the fact that Clinton supporters should not prematurely celebrate, is that Clinton is terrible at speaking off the cuff, and even worse when she's forced to answer questions, even from friendly sources.

We've seen that before, including one of the last times Clinton had to communicate without the benefit of scripts, teleprompters or carefully screened supporters feeding her softball questions.

On Feb. 4, at a town hall-style debate during the Democratic primaries, CNN's Anderson Cooper asked Clinton a simple question about the speeches she delivered to Wall Street's Goldman Sachs: "Did you have to be paid $675,000?"

Clinton, looking extremely uncomfortable and sounding like a kid making an excuse for stealing cookies, shrugged and spread her hands wide.

"Well, I don't know," Clinton replied. "Um, that's what they offered."

The audience burst into laughter -- not with Clinton, but at her expense.

Clinton supporters encouraged by the candidate's bump in the polls and Trump's floundering campaign should not forget there are more than three months of campaigning before election day, and three debates where anything can happen. Given Clinton's poor track record when forced to speak without a script, those debates could help her put Trump away -- or lose her the election.

Either way, the post-convention bump will be a distant memory by the time Americans head to the voting booths in November.

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Sources: FiveThirtyEight, CNN/YouTube, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Fox News / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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