Clinton campaign press secretary Brian Fallon takes us inside the campaign's plans to play an aggressive game against Trump in this week’s installment of ABC News’ “Powerhouse Politics” podcast.
“You cannot be passive in the face of Donald Trump’s unconventional approach, you need to be aggressive. That does not mean, however, engaging with him in kind," he said.
Betting on Policy Differences
Clinton also has tools at her disposal -- in terms of policy contrasts -- that were not available in the same way to Trump’s primary election challengers, Fallon said.
“We have the ability to go after him after him, confront him, condemn him, on policy issues, which is something that was not available to the Republican field because for the most part they agreed with him on policy,” Fallon said. “So that is our ace in the hole.”
There is one point on which the Clinton campaign is prepared to concede to Trump from the start: the volume of news coverage. Fallon said he anticipates that Trump will continue to grab headlines and dominate the news cycle as he has in the primary election. But dominating the news cycle, he said, is a separate issue from winning it.
“More news cycles than not are going to be driven by news that Donald Trump makes,” he said. “That doesn’t mean he’s going to win the day... He can say provocative things as he has done throughout this campaign, and it will probably lead to news content. That does not mean he put himself in a better position to win the general election.”
The No. 1 Concern
Apart from being prepared for the day-to-day battle with Trump, Fallon said, is making sure that Democratic voters do not fall into the trap of complacency in assuming that victory in November is assured.
“The number one concern that we have as Democrats is complacency,” Fallon said. “If Democrats get complacent, we will play right into Donald Trump’s hands and we could end up with a catastrophe of Donald Trump occupying the Oval Office. So we go into this expecting a very tight contest, wire to wire.”
“We’re capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time,” Fallon said, adding that the campaign has already begun hiring in key battleground states.
"We're fully aware of the fact that Sen. Sanders is going to remain in this through the middle of June; that’s fine by us,” Fallon said. “We think we can operate on this dual track without a problem.”
Willing to Take Some Losses
That forward-thinking, general election mindset means spending less, and conceding some losses, in the primary battle still ongoing, he explained. Clinton's loss to Sanders in Indiana is the most recent example.
"We made the decision to efficiently allocate resources, and that meant not going on the air at all in Indiana. You saw Senator Sanders spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $2 million there," he said.
While efficient spending may have been one factor in the Clinton's campaign decision not to advertise in Indiana, Fallon also conceded that Clinton is in a string of contests that are favorable to Sanders.
"We're in a stretch of our calendar right now where some of the states are once again suitable for Sen Sanders," he said.
But even with those losses, Fallon said, "the state of the race is unchanged."