Clinton Camp On Brexit: We Beat The Angry Populist Once And We’ll Do It Again

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June 24, 2016 2:04 p.m.
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The official focus of a press call organized Friday by the Hillary Clinton campaign may have been Donald Trump and his response to Brexit — the United Kingdom’s shocking vote to leave the European Union — but her previous rival Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) also got an indirect shout out, though not by name.

Reporters pressed the call’s hosts, campaign policy advisor Jake Sullivan and communications director Jennifer Palmieri, on whether the U.K.’s surprise vote fueled by working class discontent and anti-immigrant rhetoric had raised concerns within the campaign, which is facing similar forces embodied in Donald Trump. Their implicit response was this: we beat the angry populist in the primary, and we are prepared to do so again in the general.

“When Americans wake up this morning and saw the impact that voters in another continent took, the effect that that had on our markets and the potential it could have an impact on our economy, they’re going to have the need for steady leadership, and somebody who doesn’t just offer anger, but offers solutions,” Palmieri said. “That’s our experience, and what we saw voters ultimately wanted in the Democratic primary, and we think solutions are what voters are going to be looking for in the general election, too.”

The campaign representatives were careful not to outright dismiss the economic inequality that has played a major role in populist movements here and abroad. Sullivan argued, “The Secretary has made this point repeatedly that this economy, that this U.S. economy, is not working for far too many people and we need solutions to make sure it works for everyone, not just at the top.”

In campaigning on the message, Sullivan said Clinton “will be offering specific solutions, not slogans, not anger, not a whole lot of sales puffery of the sort that you’ve heard from Donald Trump, but actual solutions that are actually going to improve the lives of people.”

“We have confidence, just as she prevailed in the primary with that approach, that she will prevail in the general election, because we believe, she believes that’s what the American people are looking for,” Sullivan said.

U.S. political reporters were quick to draw the parallels between the U.K.’s “Leave” movement and Trumpmentum when they woke to the Brexit news Friday. Coincidentally, Trump himself was in Scotland Friday to tout the reopening of his golf course Trump Turnberry.

Clinton’s campaign denied that ​the Brexit referendum and the U.S. presidential election were all that similar, while alleging that Trump’s response to the vote — for one, he suggested the crash of the pound will benefit his golf course financially — was further proof that Americans will prefer the former secretary of state.

“From our perspective, the aftermath of this vote and the economic uncertainty just underscores how important to elect somebody who actually knows what they’re doing,” Sullivan said.

Trump and his supporters meanwhile are embracing Brexit as a positive bellwether for the presumptive GOP nominee.

“I think I see a big parallel,” Trump said Friday at press conference at Turnberry. “I think people really see a big parallel — a lot of people are talking about that. And not only the United States, but other countries. People want to take their country back.”

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