In a lengthy discourse on the appeal of anti-establishment candidates in the 2016 race, Hillary Clinton on Tuesday attributed Donald Trump’s appeal to anxiety and fear over falling wages and called income stagnation “an economic crisis and a political crisis.”
“When people feel they are being left out and they are somehow not able to get back into the middle class or stay in the middle class,” Clinton told the Des Moines Register’s editorial board, “that gives rise to a lot of anxiety insecurity frustration and even anger in the political system and we’re seeing that on both sides of the aisle.”
Real estate mogul and billionaire Donald Trump’s success lies in appealing to people’s fears, Clinton said, adding that people have legitimate concerns about declining middle-class wages.
“But particularly with Mr. Trump and his outrageous appeals to paranoia and prejudice,” she continued, “He gets some of the reaction he does in part because people are genuinely worried and anxious and looking for answers.”
Donald Trump and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, two entirely different candidates with fundamentally different messages and platforms, have gained traction in the Republican and Democratic presidential contests partly thanks to support among Americans who want to see a newcomer on the political scene.
Clinton, as a former first lady, senator and secretary of state has a long history in the center of Washington politics, a factor she said would be both a benefit and a hindrance.
“The idea that Americans are looking for somebody who has never been elected to anything, who has never had to deal with the Congress who has never negotiated anything with a foreign country on matters of live or death—I do not think that has staying power,” Clinton said. “But I think right now there’s a lot of energy behind it because of people’s frustrations.”
“I understand in some people’s eyes I may have an extra burden that I need to meet in order to win their vote,” she continued.
Clinton’s comments on Tuesday to the Des Moines Register‘s editorial board in a more than 90-minute meeting were some of her most open to date on the establishment-outsider dynamic in the presidential race.
Sanders is ahead in polls in New Hampshire and has come within about 20 points of Clinton at a national level. Donald Trump is leading the Republican field in most national and state polls.