Welcome to the Trump-Clinton Conspiracy Election | NBC 10 Philadelphia
Decision 2016

Decision 2016

Full coverage of the race for the White House

Welcome to the Trump-Clinton Conspiracy Election

Rumors and innuendo long confined to the far reaches of the Internet are dominating the presidential race



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    Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump's campaign strategy have employed conspiracy theories in attacks against each other.

    It's a conspiracy: The 2016 campaign features one candidate who warned against the "vast right-wing conspiracy" and another who was a leader of the so-called "birther" movement.

    Donald Trump and his surrogates hint at a mysterious "illness" afflicting rival Hillary Clinton. Pushing back, Clinton warns of murky ties between Trump and the Russian government, insinuating that her Republican opponent may be a puppet of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    Rumors and innuendo long confined to the far reaches of the Internet are dominating the presidential race, forcing Clinton to grapple — once again — with the kinds of whispers that have dogged her family for decades.

    Clinton has largely avoided discussing the conspiracies, leaving it to members of her campaign team or allies. But she is preparing a Reno, Nevada, address on Thursday that will accuse Trump of supporting an "alt-right" campaign that presents "a divisive and dystopian view of America."

    "I do feel sometimes like this campaign has entered into an alternative universe," Clinton said in an appearance Monday night on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live."

    She described Trump Wednesday night on CNN as a candidate who is campaigning on anger and hatred.

    "Donald Trump has shown us who he is and we ought to believe him," she said. "He is taking a hate movement mainstream. He has brought it into his campaign. He's bringing it to our communities and our country."

    Driven by big personalities, the 2016 election has become a perfect storm for conspiracy theories. Clinton famously called her husband's opponents part of a "vast right-wing conspiracy" and her family has long been central to a cottage industry of sordid tales about her husband and family.

    Michelle Obama: When They Go Low We Go High By Voting

    [NATL] Michelle Obama: When They Go Low We Go High By Voting
    Presidential elections are decided on a “razor’s edge,” Michelle Obama told a crowd at a campaign event in North Carolina where she spoke after Hillary Clinton on Oct. 27. The first lady got a loud round of applause when she pointed out what previous generations sacrificed for the right to vote, and encouraged everyone to exercise that right.

    “Casting our vote is the ultimate way we go high when they go low,” Obama said, “Voting is our high.” (Published Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016)

    Trump is known for peddling conspiracies and was at the center of the "birther" movement that questioned whether President Barack Obama was born in the United States (Obama was born in Hawaii). Trump, a businessman and reality TV star, has frequently tossed out rumors about Clinton's health and sleep schedule on the stump and on Twitter, aiming to discredit her fitness for office.

    Sensing an opportunity, Clinton's team seized upon the rumor-mongering after the GOP nominee plucked Steve Bannon, the executive chairman of the conservative website Breitbart News, to be his new campaign chairman this month.

    They highlight that Trump has been informally advised by Roger Ailes, the former chairman and CEO of Fox News, which has aired segments questioning Clinton's health, and GOP consultant Roger Stone, who has pushed politically loaded innuendo about the Clintons for years.

    Clinton, who turns 69 in late October, is younger than the 70-year-old Trump. But her health has remained front-and-center.

    Trump Mixes Business With Politics at DC Hotel Ceremony

    [NATL]Trump Mixes Business With Politics at DC Hotel Opening Ceremony
    As Hillary Clinton traverses battleground states across the country in the final stretch of the presidential election, Donald Trump took a detour from the campaign trail for the ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday of his Washington, D.C. hotel — but his remarks made clear the race to the White House was not far from mind. Trump claims the hotel is a symbol of what he'll do for America, noting it was completed "under budget and on schedule". (Published Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016)

    Much of the speculation stems from a concussion Clinton sustained in December 2012 after fainting in her final weeks as secretary of state, an episode her doctor has attributed to a stomach virus and dehydration.

    During the course of her treatment, she was found to have a blood clot in a vein in the space between the brain and the skull behind the right ear. To recover, Clinton spent a few days at a hospital and took a month-long absence from the State Department for treatment.

    Republican strategist Karl Rove later cast the incident as a "serious health episode" that would be an issue if Clinton ran for president, fueling a theory the concussion posed a graver threat to her abilities than Clinton and her team let on.

    Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a top Trump surrogate, urged voters to "go online and put down 'Hillary Clinton illness,'" in a Sunday interview with Fox News. And Trump has repeatedly questioned her stamina at campaign rallies.

    Crowd Sings 'Happy Birthday' to Clinton in Florida

    [NATL] Crowd Sings 'Happy Birthday' to Clinton in Florida
    At an event in Coconut Creek, Florida, Hillary Clinton said that Trump is "attacking everything that has set our country apart for 240 years," pointing to his refusal at the final debate to commit to conceding the race if he loses. As she tried to make this point, the crowd erupted into singing her "Happy Birthday." Clinton turns 69 on Oct. 26. (Published Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016)

    "She gives a short speech then she goes home, goes to sleep, she shows up two days later. Remember, short circuit. Remember that, right? Short circuit," he said at a Florida rally earlier this month.

    When the accusations made their way into a recent Trump foreign policy address, in which he said she "lacks the mental and physical stamina" to fight Islamic State militants, Clinton's campaign felt they had to respond.

    Her team put out a statement from Dr. Lisa Bardack, an internist who proclaimed Clinton in "excellent physical condition and fit to serve as president of the United States." Bardack had said in 2013 that testing showed "complete resolution" of the concussion's effects, including double vision, which had led Clinton to wear glasses with special lenses, further fueling rumors.

    Fanned by right-wing media sites, like Breitbart, the rumors occasionally break through onto cable news and other mainstream media.

    'Late Night’: Trump's Obamacare Fail

    [NATL] 'Late Night’: A Closer Look at Donald Trump's Obamacare Fail
    With the Obama administration announcing that premiums for health care would go up next year, Donald Trump had a substantial critique in his grasp. But, host Seth Meyers says, the Trump campaign missed the opportunity for a substantial critique, opting to instead make strange appeals to black voters. (Published Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016)

    In the aftermath of hacked Democratic emails, Trump encouraged hackers from Russia to find Clinton's missing State Department emails, an apparent invitation for a foreign power to intervene in a U.S. election.

    Clinton's team frequently points to Trump's ties to Russia. Her campaign has a page on its website devoted to a Q-and-A about Trump's "bizarre relationship" with Russia, fueling an unproven theory that Trump is a shill for Putin.