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The Week In Politics: Clinton's Emails, Trump's Dominance


There are now 16 Republicans running for president. Hard for all of them to get equal publicity, especially this week when one candidate seemed to loom as large as a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Do we even have to tell you that it's Donald Trump? Trump made a quick visit to the U.S.-Mexico border city of Laredo as other Republican candidates began to denounce him for questioning the wartime heroism of John McCain. And this week, two inspectors general in the State Department referred the case of Hillary Clinton's personal email server to the Justice Department, saying there may have been classified information on that server. NPR's Ron Elving joins us. Ron, thanks very much for being with us.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Scott.

SIMON: And let's begin with Hillary Clinton's email server. There may have been classified material on her personal email, I gather. Was that a security risk or political risk?

ELVING: It is both. Theoretically, there should not have been classified material on her personal server. The question is how it got there, when it got there who's responsible for it. Initial reports that this was a criminal investigation that the inspectors were asking for has been walked back. They are just saying what exactly happened and how did it get there and that the Justice Department ought to get involved, not just the State Department. That's the new development. As far as the politics, this gives a story that has been running for some months already - fresh legs - and assures that it will be with us through the fall, if not longer.

SIMON: Some polls in swing states this week showed her losing little ground of prospective Republican candidates, so maybe not any Democratic opponents but prospective Republican candidates. Her record as Secretary of State is supposed to be one of her political strengths.

ELVING: It is, but the question that she seems to be losing ground on is largely the question of trustworthiness. Do you see her as honest and trustworthy? And as a result, anything that speaks to that - and this email server issue has certainly been raised in that context - is at least going to increase this sense of doubt and cloud over her candidacy, along with the sort of generally low level of transparency with which she is running her campaign. This is a challenge to her team, really, at the highest decision-making levels. How long do they want to run the campaign in a bunker mentality?

SIMON: Republican-side governor of Ohio, John Kasich, who we have our show this week, got into the race a year ahead of the convention vote and pundits say he's waited too long. That sounds incredible.

ELVING: It does, indeed, Not by historical standards of course - you would never say that this was too late. But right now, he's standing at the service counter holding number 16. So that may be, for some people, a kind of you had your chance, you didn't get in in time. But, now let's think about it this way. John Kasich may not be expecting to be the nominee of the party, but he is going to get a great deal of notice along the way. He won't be in this first debate, in all likelihood.

SIMON: But even though it's in Cleveland.

ELVING: Even though it is even in Cleveland - which is an embarrassment. But nonetheless, he's getting in too late to probably get high enough in the polls in this short period of time to get included. But he's getting some good notice, including stories that come out of an unnamed source in the Clinton campaign saying that John Kasich is Hillary Clinton's worst fear. That sort of thing is helpful to him. And in the long run, what John Kasich may be thinking is that if he gets out there and he runs and he is part of the primary process, he makes an ideal vice presidential candidate for any number of these others, particularly Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio.

SIMON: Question I've held back from asking you all week, can't anymore - is Donald Trump blocking out all the sun that could otherwise shine on other candidates?

ELVING: He's certainly blocking out a great deal of it. And, as most people like to put it, he's taking all the oxygen away from the other candidates because he uses quite a bit. Trump will be in the debate on August the 6, no question about that - he'll be number one. But he will not be able to filibuster in that debate, the way he typically does in TV interviews and in news conferences. He's going to have to share the stage. The big question will be how the other candidates respond to him and react to him.

SIMON: NPR's Ron Elving, thanks so much.

ELVING: Thank you, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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