Donald Trump is hammering Hillary Clinton for saying half of his supporters belonged in a “basket of deplorables.” Clinton has since apologized, but maintains his campaign is designed to attract hateful elements. WSJ’s Jason Bellini has the Campaign Calculus. Photo: Getty
WHEN you think of Oktoberfest, Munich is probably the first thing that comes to mind.
Thousands and thousands of people are in a single room, sculling Bavarian beer in lederhosen and cute little fedoras, right?
Yeah, not in America. In the US election, the October-fest is better known as the surprise events that are dropped at the last minute to alter the course of an election campaign, and dramatically screw with each candidate’s carefully-crafted reputation.
Well, October is nearly upon us, with the US election just over six weeks away.
And experts have warned the public should prepare for some shocking new revelations about Hillary Clinton.
IS HILLARY CLINTON IN FOR AN ‘OCTOBER SURPRISE’?
Yesterday, a fresh round of hacked Democratic National Committee (DNC) documents was published by Wikileaks.
Obtained by the anonymous Guccifer 2.0 hacker, the 678 megabytes of data detail the committee’s information technology infrastructure and internal reports on donors.
They also contain information regarding turnout efforts and databases used for voter identification.
The DNC released a statement shortly after the release, saying it was the victim of “an illegal cyberattack by Russian state-sponspored agents who seek to harm the Democratic Party and progressive groups in an effort to influence the presidential election”.
It blamed the leak on Republican candidate Donald Trump, saying he has “embraced Putin” and “publicly encouraged further Russian espionage to help his campaign”.
The DNC is bracing itself for the release of more documents pic.twitter.com/y1uVz8jUW9
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) September 13, 2016
Experts have suggested this could just be a taste of what’s to come, warning October will mark a month of sensitive, damaging information being released at Hillary Clinton’s expense.
According to US expert Tom Switzer from the United States Studies Centre, there has been a noted shift in the perception of Hillary Clinton over the past few months.
“Clinton is coming down,” he said. “Her image is pretty low — all those unfavourable ratings in the last month have gone up, largely due to the media’s continuing interest in her private email server, classified emails, as well as the business dealings of the Clinton Foundation.
“More emails are going to be released between now and the election,” he warned.
“Something like 15,000 emails could be released, and don’t be surprised if the Kremlin and their mates at Wikileaks decide to dump a whole bunch of other sensitive material.”
Vladimir Putin, of course, isn’t a fan of Hillary Clinton. When mass protests erupted against the Russian President in Moscow in 2011, he said he believed the then-Secretary of State was behind them.
“The prevailing wisdom is that Russia wants Trump elected,” said Switzer.
“Although there’s a school of thought within the Kremlin that worries because Trump represents unpredictability.
“All this reaffirms more doubts about Hillary. I don’t think it’s going to be enough to get her over the line.”
Over the next month, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange may be called on to shake up the US election campaign with documents that could damage the Clinton campaign.
Assange has confirmed that this information will be released before the election, as it will contain information that may impact voters’ decisions.
Speaking to Fox News last month, Assange said “significant” information would be published on Wikileaks regarding the Democratic presidential nominee, although he did not specify what it would be.
“We have quite a lot of material in relation to the US election, thousands of pages relating to various aspects of the Hillary Clinton campaign and some other institutions,” he said on Fox Friends.
While Clinton has been shrouded in scandal for decades, the private emails controversy is possibly the main thing tied negatively to her name right now.
When she became Secretary of State in 2009, Clinton set up a private server for her emails instead of using the official government system.
When an investigation was carried out, Clinton claimed no email she sent or received through the server had been classified.
The FBI investigation later concluded this was not true, accusing Clinton and her aides of being “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information”.
However, Director James Comey added there was no proof that Clinton had actually intended to break laws governing classified information.
Mr Switzer said this ongoing controversy reaffirmed the view of her as untrustworthy. “She was reprimanded by the FBI,” he said.
“You can’t sugar-coat that. A lot of Americans are suspicious of her.”
IS THIS ENOUGH TO CHANGE THE ELECTION OUTCOME?
Are ‘October Surprises’ successful at derailing a candidate? Not necessarily, history would suggest.
Just days before the 2000 election between Al Gore and George W. Bush, for example, a prominent Democratic governor candidate told a reporter that Bush had been arrested for drink-driving in that state three decades prior.
Bush confirmed the report in a press conference shortly after, although this alone wasn’t enough to influence the campaign outcome.
In a more extreme case, the Los Angeles Times released a story about Arnold Schwarzenegger alleging he was guilty of multiple acts of sexual misconduct (dubbed ‘Gropegate’), just five days before the California governor election.
The next day, stories surfaced saying Schwarzenegger once praised Hitler and smoked marijuana.
As it stands, Switzer believes Clinton will almost definitely win the US election.
But he did acknowledge that the rise of Trump over the course of the election came as a surprise to everyone.
“We’ve been wrong about Donald Trump consistently throughout the last 15 months,” he said. “It’s a volatile environment over there. Everyone is filthy on Washington, on both sides of politics, and Trump represents that repudiation of Washington.
“If we see more volatility over the next two months — another terror attack, or a sharp economic downturn, or an October Surprise — these things would only help Trump.”
Meanwhile, it’s likely this is just the beginning for Wikileaks — and there’s no telling what it may mean for the election outcome.