Hillary Clinton’s Achilles' Heel: Trust
Policy + Politics

Hillary Clinton’s Achilles' Heel: Trust

REUTERS/Stephen Lam

While Hillary Clinton remains the odds-on favorite to capture the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, the former secretary of state continues to be dogged by questions about her honesty and integrity. 

After a steady stream of negative reports about dubious fundraising by her family’s global foundation, the tens of millions of dollars that she and former President Bill Clinton raked in giving speeches to colleges and special interest groups, and the controversy over her use of her private email account to conduct official business during her four years at the State Department, recent polls show that doubts about her credibility may be her Achilles heel. 

Related: As Hillary’s Numbers Dip, Benghazi Rises As an Issue 

The Washington Post and other news organizations reported Thursday that Clinton withheld from the State Department at least 15 emails related to the 2012 terrorist attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya – once again calling into question her contention that she had handed over her complete public record. 

The discrepancy came to light several days ago after a House special panel investigating the Benghazi tragedy that led to the death of four Americans subpoenaed former Clinton White House adviser Sidney Blumenthal’s records. After Blumenthal turned the emails over to the panel, the State Department said on Thursday that it could not locate “all or part” of the emails among the 55,000 pages messages from a private server Clinton used while in office. 

“This confirms doubts about the completeness of Clinton’s self-selected public record, and raises serious questions about her decision to erase her personal server -- especially before it could be analyzed by an independent, neutral third-party arbiter,” Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), chairman of the Select Committee on Benghazi. 

 A Washington Post-ABC News poll earlier this month shows that the number of people who view Clinton as honest and trustworthy has dropped from 53 percent a year ago to just 41 percent now. Slightly more than half now don’t see her as honest and trustworthy. 

Related: Sanders Suddenly Is Moving Up on Clinton in New Hampshire 

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a self-described Democratic socialist, is steadily gaining ground on Clinton in the early primary battleground states of Iowa and New Hampshire, with the latest CNN/WMUR Granite State Poll  showing Sanders trailing Clinton in New Hampshire by just eight percentage points, 43 percent to 35 percent. 

 A Bloomberg Politics/Saint Anselm Poll conducted June 19-22 shows Clinton leading Sanders in Iowa 50 percent to 24 percent and in New Hampshire by  56 percent to 24 percent. That represents a six- to eight-point increase in his support since those states were polled by Bloomberg in May. 

As Bloomberg noted, with nearly identical support in Iowa and New Hampshire, Sanders’ rise in the polls suggests that his appeal goes well beyond his populist, anti-Wall Street message, and that voters are giving him higher marks than Clinton on “authenticity” and integrity. 

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