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(Maybe it would help if she wasn't modeling her campaign on Mitt Romney's.)

NY Times, Sept. 16 2016
Hillary Clinton Takes Aim at Voters Drifting Toward Third Party
By JONATHAN MARTIN and AMY CHOZICK

WASHINGTON — Hillary Clinton and her Democratic allies, unnerved by the tightening presidential race, are making a major push to dissuade disaffected voters from backing third-party candidates, and pouring more energy into Rust Belt states, where Donald J. Trump is gaining ground.

With Mrs. Clinton enduring one of the rockiest stretches of her second bid for the presidency, her campaign and affiliated Democratic groups are shifting their focus to those voters, many of them millennials, who recoil at Mr. Trump, her Republican opponent, but now favor the Libertarian nominee, Gary Johnson, or the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein.

While still optimistic that the race will turn decisively back in Mrs. Clinton’s favor after the debates, leading Democrats have been alarmed by the drift of young voters toward the third-party candidates.

The principal “super PAC” supporting Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy, Priorities USA Action, has concluded from its polling and other research that the reluctance to embrace the Democratic nominee among those who intensely dislike Mr. Trump is not going away and must be confronted.

“We’ll be launching a multimillion-dollar digital campaign that talks about what’s at stake and how a vote for a third-party candidate is a vote for Donald Trump, who is against everything these voters stand for,” said Justin Barasky, a strategist for Priorities USA.

Mrs. Clinton may also get an assist from one Democrat who has been largely quiet about the race, but can testify to the importance of resisting the third-party temptation: former Vice President Al Gore. Her staff has had conversations with aides to Mr. Gore about bringing him onto the campaign trail to emphasize the importance of supporting Mrs. Clinton if they want to make progress on combating climate change.

“I can assure you from personal experience that every vote counts,” Mr. Gore wrote in an email to The New York Times on Thursday, after a new CBS/New York Times poll showed Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump virtually tied. “The stakes are high for so many Americans. So I will vote for Hillary Clinton and I strongly encourage others to vote for her as well.”

More immediately, the Clinton campaign on Saturday will dispatch two political figures who enjoy a passionate following among young liberals, Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, to Ohio, where public polls show Mrs. Clinton has slipped into a statistical dead heat with Mr. Trump. And Mrs. Clinton will deliver a speech aimed at millennial voters on Monday in Philadelphia before campaigning in Ohio and giving an economic address in Florida later in the week.

Democrats say that if the race is close in its final stretch, some of the voters who do not want to see Mr. Trump elected may shift on their own accord to Mrs. Clinton to prevent a Trump presidency. But after spending much of the summer hammering Mr. Trump, through both ads and stump speeches, it appears Mrs. Clinton has convinced many voters that Mr. Trump is not qualified to be president but has failed to win them over to her own candidacy.

On Thursday, she seemed to take aim at their lingering doubts.

“From now until Nov. 8, everywhere I go I’m going to talk about my ideas for our country,” Mrs. Clinton told reporters on Thursday in Greensboro, N.C., as she returned to the campaign trail for the first time since revealing she had pneumonia after nearly collapsing Sunday at a Sept. 11 memorial event.

At the same time, the Clinton campaign will try to more directly address the pocketbook concerns of blue-collar voters, particularly in Rust Belt states, where Mr. Trump has appeal.

In Ohio, for example, the Clinton campaign has opened 54 offices aimed at turning out the vote. But three public polls this week showed Mr. Trump holding a narrow lead there, and prominent Clinton supporters in Ohio said the former secretary of state needs to make clear what she will do for working-class people.

“The more people hear about what she’s proposing, the more inclined they’ll say, ‘Maybe she’s not my first pick, but she’s got a plan that is going to help us,’” said Representative Tim Ryan, a Democrat from the Youngstown area.

Mrs. Clinton suffered one of her biggest setbacks during the primaries in the Midwest, when Mr. Sanders unexpectedly won Michigan. Mr. Trump’s strong showing in the polls in the region, and his ability to connect with working-class voters there, have set off anxiety among Mrs. Clinton’s advisers.

“It used to be cars were made in Flint, and you couldn’t drink the water in Mexico,” Mr. Trump told supporters in Ohio, referring to one of Michigan’s former automobile capitals. “Now, the cars are made in Mexico, and you can’t drink the water in Flint.”

While Mr. Trump is showing strength in the battleground states, he is still below 50 percent in national and state polls because of the deep discomfort so many minority and college-educated white voters have for him.

But what worries Democrats is that if Mr. Johnson and Ms. Stein continue to draw significant support that might otherwise go to Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Trump would not need to come close to 50 percent to win.

The New York Times-CBS survey this week showed, in a four-way race, both Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton receiving 42 percent, with Mr. Johnson drawing 8 percent and Ms. Stein 4 percent.

What is striking is that Mr. Johnson, despite being a former Republican governor who supports limited government, appears to take just as many votes from Mrs. Clinton as he does from Mr. Trump. When asked to choose between the two major party nominees, 23 percent of Mr. Johnson’s supporters said they would back Mrs. Clinton while 20 percent said they would favor Mr. Trump.

Another concern for Democrats is that voters appear to have scant knowledge of her biography, political record and policy plans.

“It’s still shocking to them how little people know about her,” said William M. Daley, a commerce secretary for President Bill Clinton, recalling a conversation with a Democratic strategist who was stunned by a focus group that indicated voters did not know about her longstanding efforts to expand access to health insurance. “It’s a big problem for her.”

Mrs. Clinton’s aides indicate that in addition to her speeches, they will broadcast more positive commercials highlighting her past efforts on health care and her current proposals to lift wages and create jobs.

Mrs. Clinton’s backers are troubled enough by the resilience of the third-party candidates that they have started invoking a name that triggers painful memories: Ralph Nader.

“You’re going to end up with Nader electing Bush again if they vote that way,” warned Mr. Daley, who was the campaign chairman for Mr. Gore in 2000 when he lost Florida, and the presidency, in part because liberals supported Mr. Nader, the Green Party nominee that year.

Some Clinton supporters expressed frustration that an interview Mr. Gore gave last month to a liberal website warning about the perils of straying from the major party candidates did not draw more attention.

“I would also urge them to look carefully, as I know they have, at the consequences of going in another direction for the third or fourth alternative,” Mr. Gore told ThinkProgress.

Jonathan Martin reported from Washington, and Amy Chozick from Greensboro, N.C.

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