Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore campaign together at the Miami Dade College - Kendall Campus, Theodore Gibson Center on Oct. 11, 2016 in Miami, Fla.
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty

By focusing on substance, Clinton creates stark campaign contrasts

Yesterday was unusually instructive when it came to learning about the major-party presidential candidates. Donald Trump, for example, declared that he’d removed his “shackles” in the morning; attacked ostensible Republican allies in the afternoon; and wrapped things up with a Fox News interview last night, in which the GOP nominee complained about his opponent infringing on his “territory” during Sunday’s debate.

Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, held an event in Miami alongside Al Gore, but instead of the usual campaign stump speech, the Democratic nominee focused heavily – and in detail – on the climate crisis. Grist’s Rebecca Leber explained yesterday that voters “finally heard what Clinton sounds like when she digs in on climate.”
“Climate change is real. It’s urgent. And America can take the lead in the world in addressing it,” Clinton said. She focused on the U.S.’s capacity to lead the world in a climate deal and as a clean energy superpower in a speech that mostly rehashed familiar policy territory.

Clinton ran down her existing proposals on infrastructure, rooftop solar, energy efficiency, and more, though she omitted the more controversial subjects, like what to do about pipeline permits, that have dogged her campaign.
The pipeline-permit omission notwithstanding, the remarks were deeply substantive. Clinton’s reputation for a wonky attention to detail is well deserved and was on display in Miami.

Soon after, Clinton’s campaign unveiled new details of her anti-poverty agenda, including an expansion of the child tax credit, which the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates would help 14 million families and “lift about 1.5 million people (including about 400,000 children under age 5) above the poverty line.”

To be sure, the policy details are a little complicated, but it’s an attainable goal and, if implemented, the plan is likely to succeed.

And while that obviously matters, there’s also the broader political context to consider.

With four weeks remaining in the presidential race, Donald Trump spent yesterday picking fights, playing the role of provocateur, and hoping to create spectacle and drama. Hillary Clinton spent yesterday exploring the details of a global environmental crisis and unveiling a worthwhile expansion of a tax policy with the intention of reducing poverty.

Not to put too fine a point on this, but as the presidential campaign enters the home stretch, one candidate, whether you agree with her goals or not, appears eager to govern. The other doesn’t.

This isn’t an accident, though. Trump has explicitly declared his belief that “the public doesn’t care” about public policy, and his aides have acknowledged that the Republican candidate doesn’t want to “waste time on policy.” Clinton, obviously, believes the exact opposite.

We’ll see soon enough who chose the wiser course.

Al Gore, Climate Change, Donald Trump, Global Warming, Hillary Clinton and poverty

By focusing on substance, Clinton creates stark campaign contrasts