The last ten days or so have been really interesting in the presidential campaign. I think the news over that time may have changed my mind about the length of presidential campaigns. Like many of you I looked with envy at the short UK campaigns. And I’ve complained as our campaigns stretch into another year.
In so many ways, of course, this campaign is unlike any prior campaign. The difference is Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton is the first woman candidate of a major party, but is in most respects a conventional candidate. Trump is anything but conventional. It has taken time, perhaps months or years, for investigative reporters to figure what to look for and where to look in exposing Trump’s past. He has no political history. Where reporters have been investigating the Clintons for decades, they are just getting started with Trump.
In only the last couple of weeks, the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold has written about illegal behavior of Trump’s foundation, including that the foundation appears to lack even the basic documentation from the state of New York to accept tax deductible contributions. He has also exposed self-dealing, illegal behavior for a foundation. Fahrenthold has been on the story since January, but it takes time to build a case and develop the story.
Similarly Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald has documented Trump’s violation of the embargo of Cuba. These stories don’t get investigated and reported in a couple of weeks.
Vox has a good summary of Trump’s corrupt past.
Maybe a longer campaign is a good thing, since it may take a while to figure out what a candidate has done, when that candidate has no political history and reporters have to start from scratch in building that history. They could not have done that work in three months or so.