By Kip Eideberg, AEM Vice President, Public Affairs and Advocacy
The general election matchup is settled: Democrats nominated Hillary Clinton in Philadelphia, following the Republicans’ nomination of Donald Trump in Cleveland. After one of the most tumultuous primary seasons in recent memory, both Clinton and Trump have just under 100 days to make their case to the American people.
Where do things stand for AEM members heading into the fall campaign? Here are a few key takeaways as the Clinton-Trump general election begins in earnest.
Trade in the cross-hairs –It’s hard to argue that either convention helped make the case for pro-manufacturing trade policies that will help equipment manufacturers grow exports. Trump has made his opposition to TPP and his promise to rewrite NAFTA a cornerstone of his campaign. And Clinton gave in to pressure from her left during the primary season to oppose TPP.
When a Clinton surrogate, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, suggested during the convention that Clinton may reverse course on TPP as president, Clinton’s campaign chairman moved quickly to quash the rumor. It’s unlikely that either Clinton or Trump will move to expand trade as president, both as a matter of policy and politics.
Infrastructure could be a First-100-Days priority – Here’s Hillary Clinton in her acceptance speech:
In my first 100 days, we will work with both parties to pass the biggest investment in new, good-paying jobs since World War II -- jobs in manufacturing, clean energy, technology and innovation, small business, and infrastructure. If we invest in infrastructure now, we'll not only create jobs today, but lay the foundation for the jobs of the future.
And here’s Trump:
This new wealth will improve the quality of life for all Americans – We will build the roads, highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, and the railways of tomorrow. This, in turn, will create millions more jobs.
New presidents typically enjoy a “honeymoon period” that gives them a chance to advance one or more major legislative initiatives. Short of reviving TPP or passing tax reform, a major infrastructure package could emerge as a top priority for the next president, regardless of who wins in November.
Make Party Conventions Great Again – The Republican and Democratic conventions have evolved in recent years into heavily scripted coronations for presidential candidates who have typically locked up the nomination months earlier. That wasn’t the case in Cleveland or Philadelphia. Republican disarray made for gripping television all week, while the vocal dissent of Bernie Sanders supporters in Philadelphia threatened to push Democrats off-message until a string of high-profile speeches righted the ship.
Who’s winning? Ask again later – Donald Trump received a discernible post-convention “bounce” in the polls, which was likely the product of skeptical Republicans reconciling themselves with Trump. This week’s polls reflect a similar “bounce” for Clinton, following a successful convention that promises to bring Sanders voters into the fold. But observers should take a couple of weeks to let the poll numbers stabilize following the conventions. Want to know who has the edge heading into this fall? See where things stand during the second or third week of August.