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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton offer each other a twisted kind of hope

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, left, and Democratic

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, left, and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Credit: EPA / AP

Whoever wins this race should take a moment afterward to thank the loser — just for being him- or herself.

With the latest polls showing a dead heat, the question becomes which of the major-party presidential candidates is luckier to have the other for an opponent.

Hillary Clinton may be the more fortunate for facing Donald Trump, who’s managed in praising himself to insult veterans, Latinos, women, African-Americans, businesspeople, Muslims and — key for the moment — Republicans.

But maybe the stars have aligned for Donald Trump in the form of Hillary Clinton's candidacy. She’s still embroiled in the email scandal. She carries baggage on foreign issues, she  vies with him for low trust ratings, and she bears  an "establishment" label.

Barring a seismic event, one of them will win. But it is hard to say which of their negatives might offset the other’s.

Judging the equivalence of their downsides takes more detailed consideration than even the most open-minded voters are able or inclined to invest.

Trump hasn’t released tax documents. Disclosure has been standard for campaigns since the 1970s. His actions raise issues about his true levels of wealth, charity and probity.

Clinton didn’t release transcripts of her speeches before Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street firms. Her superior fundraising thus carries a political liability, which Bernie Sanders exploited to a degree in the Democratic primaries.

That doesn’t make the two the same. It just gives factual ammunition for both sides in ads and debates — to the degree that facts will even matter.

Both face questions about potential conflicts. Ex-President Bill Clinton runs the international Clinton Foundation, with a big network of donations and grants.

Trump’s business ventures range far and wide, from Saudi Arabia to Dubai to Qatar, but he has yet to say he’d build a wall between his administration and his personal financial interests.

Big promises also provide fodder for comparison. He says he will eliminate ISIS and get Mexico to pay for his legendary wall. She proposes to “give every student the option to graduate from a public college or university in their state without taking on any student debt.”

If you’re Trump or Clinton, nearly two of three voters say you are not honest and trustworthy, according to the latest New York Times/CBS poll. Negatives for one can mean positives for the other. Each of them seems to bank on the other to come through on that score.


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