Trump and Clinton just can't quit each other

Trump and Clinton just can't quit each other
© Getty

It’s 2016 all over again. 

Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump voter who cast ballot illegally won’t be charged Trump’s tax plan is a bold step toward draining the swamp Carter Page: I'm the victim of 'horrendous civil rights violations' MORE is bashing Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonObama's speech proves hypocrisy of Democrat's anti-Wall Street rhetoric Lawmakers targeted as district politics shift Want a tremendous deal on infrastructure spending? Suspend Davis-Bacon MORE. Crowds are screaming “Lock her up!” at Trump rallies. And Clinton is trolling Trump on Twitter. 

More than 129 days after the curtains closed on the 2016 election, the bitter rivalry between the pair shows no signs of ending. 

“They can’t let it go,” said Jeffrey Lord, a Trump surrogate who logged hundreds of hours on CNN during the 2016 election cycle analyzing the pithy back-and-forth between the two candidates.  

When the race finally ended on in the wee hours of Nov. 9th, Lord said he knew he hadn’t seen the end of it.

ADVERTISEMENT
“The Clintons, both of them are these political machines. This is what they do,” Lord said. “When she didn’t win the first time, she ran a second time and now the engine is still running. And [Trump] is just a very competitive soul. He is relentless. It’s part of his DNA.” 

The barbs halted briefly after the election, beginning with Trump’s victory speech, where he praised Clinton’s service to the country.

“Hillary has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time, and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country. I mean that very sincerely.” 

But the détente was short-lived, with the war of words between the two camps quickly returning to the fore.

A month after the election ended, tension spilled out at an event at Harvard University's Institute of Politics, where both Clinton and Trump aides went after each other. 

"If providing a platform for white supremacists makes me a brilliant tactician, I am proud to have lost," Jennifer Palmieri, the campaign's communications director, told Trump aides including campaign manager Kellyanne Conway. "I would rather lose than win the way you guys did."

“Guys, I can tell you are angry, but wow,” Conway said at one point “Hashtag he’s your president. How’s that? Will you ever accept the election results?” 

The sparring erupted again this week.

On Friday, Clinton retweeted her longtime senior adviser Philippe Reines, who took to Twitter to write: “Russians spy. Healthcare is complicated. Diplomacy is exhausting. Who Knew?” Clinton added her own quip, chiming in with: “Things I learned today.” 

Two days earlier, at a rally in Nashville, Tenn., Trump name-checked Clinton while discussing his proposed travel ban and gloated that she didn’t win the presidency. 

“The law and the Constitution give the President the power to suspend immigration when he deems — or she — or she— fortunately it will not be Hillary-she,” Trump said. 

The mere mention of Clinton’s name prompted the crowd to begin to chants of “Lock her up,” the mantra supporters used during the campaign. 

Trump turned away from the lectern and smiled as the crowd continued the rallying cry for more than a minute.

During a press conference last month, Trump brought up Clinton when pushing back against questions from reporters about possible ties between his campaign and Russia.

"Nobody mentions that Hillary received the questions to the debates," Trump recounted, referring to the time during the primary when Team Clinton received debate questions in advance from Democratic operative Donna Brazille. "Can you imagine —seriously can you imagine if I received the questions? It would be the electric chair, ok?"

A day earlier, standing beside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump reminded the public about his electoral win against Clinton when asked about anti-Semitic incidents across the country.

“I just want to say that we are very honored by the victory that we had, 306 Electoral College votes,” Trump said. “We were not supposed to crack 220, you know that, right?”

Trump associates say one of the reasons the president continues to bring up the grueling presidential race is because he knows there are those who are trying to delegitimize his win — with the alleged involvement by Russia in the backdrop.  

“On some level, I think it bothers him,” said one Trump associate outside the White House, regarding suggestions that Russia helped him win.

Behind closed doors, Trump is also known to talk about his come-from-behind win and how he succeeded with a much smaller campaign apparatus than Clinton.

At the same time, Clinton, who has spent the past few months trying to figure out how it all went wrong, has been keeping the pressure on Trump — mostly on Twitter.

“With threats & hate crimes on rise, we shouldn’t have to tell @POTUS to do his part. He must step up & speak out,” she wrote on the social media site late last month. 

Clinton has told allies that she plans to continue to hold the president accountable and will find ways of doing so in her future endeavors.  

Political consultants expect the back and forth to continue long into the Trump presidency. 

“The permanent campaign has reached a new level of intensity and relentlessness in the age of Trump,” said Matt Mackowiak, a Republican consultant.  

“Democrats have worked more urgently to undermine his presidency than at any time in modern history,” Mackowiak continued, adding that Trump “has also had some trouble moving beyond the election.”

Mackowiak said he doesn’t think the campaign chapter will end in the near future unless Trump has a major bipartisan legislative accomplishment, “which as of now appears unlikely in this environment.”