Will Violence Involving Police Define Presidential Campaign?

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Crises that arise during presidential campaigns often define the candidates. Will last week’s violence prove to be the crucible of the current campaign? At the minimum, the bickering between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was temporarily overshadowed, much like a month ago when a single assailant killed 49 people and wounded more than 50 others in an Orlando nightclub. That pause proved temporary and for all its horror, had little effect on the presidential race, the Los Angeles Times reports.

In past decades, dramatic disorder has had a political impact. The convulsions of protests and violence in 1968 helped swing the presidential election that year  to the law-and-order candidate, Republican Richard Nixon. The effect of the latest outbreak may be fully determined only when more specifics are known about the Dallas attack. Already, however, the three days of shootings have served as a reminder of how events outside the campaign can overwhelm the carefully plotted strategies of the candidates. For a time, at least, the question of whom Trump will pick as a running mate and the details of Clinton’s handling of classified information in her emails seem unlikely to attract much attention.

Donald Trump called the shootings by police of African American men in Louisiana and Minnesota “senseless” and said they remind “us how much more needs to be done.” The words used by Trump and other Republicans seemed a cautionary nod to how the country has changed since Republican nominee Nixon profited from his law-and-order approach.  Hillary Clinton called the episodes in Dallas,  Louisiana, and Minnesota “deeply troubling and it should worry every single American.” She pointed to police training proposals she forwarded last year that she said would lessen the number of civilian shootings at the hands of officers.

 

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