Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump listen to a question during the town hall debate at Washington University on Oct 9, 2016 in St Louis, Mo.
Photo by Saul Loeb/Pool/Getty

Trump questions Clinton’s fitness as a role model for kids

One of the most striking oddities of the 2016 presidential campaign is Donald Trump’s habit of effectively repeating a child’s taunt: “I know you are but what am I?” Take yesterday, for example.
Donald Trump called Hillary Clinton “a terrible example” for the nation’s youth during a rally in Michigan on Monday.

The Republican nominee went off on a newly discovered email from CNN contributor and Democratic strategist Donna Brazile to Clinton aide John Podesta revealing that Brazile shared questions for an upcoming CNN town hall with the campaign.

“Why did Hillary Clinton not turn it in? You know, I have a son named Barron,” said Trump. “And I want to tell you, she is a terrible example for my son and the children in this country.”
According to stolen emails, Brazile apparently told the Clinton campaign to expect a question about lead poisoning at a March debate in Flint, Michigan. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that Clinton didn’t really need a heads-up on this one.

But the idea that Clinton “is a terrible example for … the children in this country” is striking, not just because it’s wrong, but because it’s been one of the driving messages of Clinton’s campaign in reference to Trump. The Democratic nominee and her allies – most notably, First Lady Michelle Obama – have hammered the Republican for months on precisely this point, making the case America’s families shouldn’t elect a president who would serve as an atrocious role model for kids.

Other leading Republicans have noticed the potency of the message, and have avoided questions about whether or not they’d expect children to emulate the GOP presidential nominee.

Confronted with that criticism, Trump decided it’s time to project one of his faults onto his opponent. People think he’d be an awful role model for kids? Fine, Trump says, Clinton is actually setting a terrible example for children.

This keeps happening. As we talked about a month ago, after Clinton accused Trump of being unstable and reckless, Trump said Clinton is “unstable” and “reckless.” When Clinton accused Trump of being a “puppet” for his allies in Moscow, Trump responded, “You’re the puppet. You’re the puppet.”

Trump has accused Clinton of being “filthy rich,” despite his vast wealth. He’s accused her of mistreating women, despite his alleged sexual misconduct towards many women. Trump’s accused Clinton of corruption, despite his lengthy record of corruption.

Trump has accused Clinton of being a “bigot,” despite his overt racism. Trump has questioned Clinton’s “temperament,” despite his erratic and alarming behavior.

Were it not for projection, I’m not sure Trump would have much of anything to say at his campaign rallies at this point.