Sex, Leaks & Videotape: Just another US presidential election year

Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during the presidential town hall debate with Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., October 9, 2016. © Shannon Stapleton
The release of a scandalous hot-mic tape catching Donald Trump uttering lewd comments over 10 years ago came at a good time for Hillary Clinton, herself the center of an unflattering Wikileaks' release, TJ Walker, media analyst, told RT.

TJ Walker, liberal media analyst and commentator and Arvin Vohra, Vice Chair of the Libertarian National Committee spoke to RT on the outcome of the 2nd presidential debates between Trump and Clinton. 

RT:Wikileaks released transcripts of Clinton's private speeches to Wall Street bankers, revealing potentially damaging comments she made behind closed doors. How revealing and harmful have they been to her campaign?

TJ Walker: When it is released the same day that sex tapes on Donald Trump come out, where he brags about being a sexual predator grabbing the genitals, the negative impact on the Clinton campaign was an absolute zero. It couldn’t have been better timing for her. The issue did come up in the debate last night, and she had about as good a spin as you can put on it (…)

She was talking about Abraham Lincoln, and Lincoln in fact, for anyone who knows [his] history, did have one set of policies that he talked about publicly, another set privately, as he was trying to negotiate legislation through Congress. She got off that quickly and did not dwell on that topic, she didn’t play defense in the debate – that served her well.  

[The release of the Wall Street speech tapes] would have hurt her dramatically in February, when she had a primary campaign against Bernie Sanders, because there is a clear division within the Democratic Party, between certain progressives and far left who are very much anti-trade, and the traditional wing of the Democratic Party, the mainstream moderate and the DLC [Democratic Leadership Council,] the Clinton wing that is pro-trade. But now that we in a general election – it is such a small slice of the American electorate that is really vehemently against trade and they hate Trump even more. So there is really no impact. 

RT: Do you think Clinton is concerned about Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson taking some votes away from her? 

TW: She doesn’t at all. She could completely ignore Gary Johnson as she has done so far (…) but I can tell you there is absolutely nothing lower on the radar for Hillary Clinton than thinking about Gary Johnson, other than: “Ok, if he can hurt Trump in Utah – that is nice." But beyond that it is just not a function.

RT: What’s your take on current situation among US presidential candidates? 

Arvin Vohra: We’re seeing hundreds, thousands of Republicans jumping over to the Gary Johnson side. We’re seeing Republican former legislators; we’re seeing Republican top officials asking the Gary Johnson campaign: “How can we help?” The fact is these are the people who want to downsize government; they know Gary Johnson is going to do it. They realize that Trump is not going to do it, plus Trump will also continue to embarrass the party indefinitely.  We’re seeing a huge influx from our side. It is basically the end of the Trump campaign.

RT: Do you think the Wall Street speeches would have caused more damage, if it wasn't for the Trump video?

AV: I think there is certain amount of truth in that, which is that: had this happen at a different time, it would have had a bigger impact than it does right now. But the really key part is that now Clinton is going to be more likely to find herself in a debate, where she is not going to be able to just say: “Listen, this guy is a buffoon, he’s a racist, he’s crazy." She’s going have to be in a debate, which actually focuses on the type of issues that were in those Wikileaks. I am not sure that she’s really, to be quite honest, ready for an issue-based debate. The big tough issues - the kind that Gary Johnson has been bringing - are things that she’s been able to ignore so far. But she is not going to be able to ignore them.  

RT: Your candidate, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, will not be at the debate, and the election is essentially down to just two candidates. What’s your take on that? 

AV: There is a big indifference between saying that somebody is not invited to one specific debate and saying that somebody is not part of the landscape of political debate that defines the entire campaign. With the complete implosion of the Trump campaign, Clinton is going to have to start responding to the things that Gary Johnson has been bringing up. She can’t distract people with Trump in the same way.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.