The New York Times used “the children” to advance Hillary Clinton’s election prospects (and the Democrats' attempt to take the Senate) in Wednesday’s edition, trashing Trump as a bad role model for children on the front page, while hailing Hillary as an anti-bully heroine inside. Jennifer Steinhauer’s Wednesday front-page story was headlined: “Trump as Role Model? Ayotte ‘Absolutely’ Has Second Thoughts.”
This was certainly a partisan lead for a supposedly balanced front-page news story:
When you are a United States senator running for re-election who has to apologize for saying your nominee for president is a role model for children, things may be going subpar for you.
And you also may have created trouble for fellow imperiled incumbents who will now also likely be asked whether they think Donald J. Trump sets a nice example.
Senator Kelly Ayotte, Republican of New Hampshire, found herself in that thicket Tuesday as she continued to try to walk back the word she uttered in a debate when asked if she saw Mr. Trump as an exemplar for youth: “absolutely.”
Ms. Ayotte and her Democratic opponent, Gov. Maggie Hassan, are locked in one of the nation’s closest Senate races, a contest that could determine whether Republicans retain one-party control of Capitol Hill. Like Ms. Ayotte, many Republican senators have struggled to reconcile their fortunes with those of Mr. Trump.
Almost instantly after the debate Monday night, Ms. Ayotte’s campaign released an unusual statement saying: “I misspoke tonight. While I would hope all of our children would aspire to be president, neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton have set a good example and I wouldn’t hold up either of them as role models for my kids.” Ms. Ayotte reiterated her comments while campaigning Tuesday morning.
Also on Wednesday, Matt Flegenheimer used children for another attack on Trump in “Clinton’s Call to Girls: Stand Tall and Be Proud.”
The teenager leaned into the microphone, pausing for a beat. She had a question for Hillary Clinton, about her high school and Donald J. Trump.
“At my school, body image is a really big issue for girls my age,” began the girl, Brennan Leach, 15, who had a red bow in her hair. “I see with my own eyes the damage Donald Trump does when he talks about women and how they look.”
How, she asked, could Mrs. Clinton help girls understand “that they are so much more than just what they look like?”
Briefly, Mrs. Clinton appeared ready to rocket out of her seat.
“Thank you!” the candidate shouted, as the crowd cheered Brennan. “Thank you!”
Brennan’s question was the first of the day and, for Mrs. Clinton, the most potent.
Since last week’s debate, Mrs. Clinton has brought attention to Mr. Trump’s history of making disparaging remarks about the appearance of women, particularly his comments about the weight of the 1996 Miss Universe, Alicia Machado. Even before the debate, Mrs. Clinton’s team had released an evocative ad that featured girls looking anxiously in their mirrors, scored to a selection of Trump insults.
Then came the testimonials.
Fielding sympathetic questions from supporters, Mrs. Clinton brandished her range.
She was wonky, true to form, engaging attendees in a less than catchy call-and-response exercise: “Do you have an interest rate on your student debt that is 8 percent or higher?” she said, asking for a show of hands.
She was sympathetic, responding to a mother who said she had lost a son to gun violence, and then another to suicide after his sibling’s death.
“Thank you for being so brave,” Mrs. Clinton said.
And she was playful, smiling as a middle school questioner said she had won a recent mock presidential debate while arguing Mrs. Clinton’s side. “Thanks for winning,” Mrs. Clinton replied. “That makes us 2 and 0.”
Near the end Flegenheimer finally revealed that the “potent” question had been shaped by a politician:
After the event, Brennan said that her father, a state senator, had helped her form the question that had so excited Mrs. Clinton. (The Clinton campaign said questions had not been vetted.)
One imagines that if something similar happened at a Republican rally, the name and party position of the father would be placed near the top.