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Republicans are running against Hillary Clinton (Again.)

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WASHINGTON — Republicans are running attack ads blasting Hillary Clinton as an out-of-touch elitist. Fox News prime time is blanketed with reports about Clinton investigations. Trump 2020 campaign rallies in key presidential swing states feature “lock her up!” chants.

If you follow campaign news, it may seem like the 2016 campaign never ended. And in at least one way for some Republicans, it hasn’t: The GOP has gone negative on Clinton for more than 25 years — and they don’t think her absence from the ballot is reason enough to stop now.

So far, at least three Republican candidates or groups have released ads over the past week slamming Clinton, in what amounts to an early midterms election-year beta test of her continued utility in firing up the conservative base.

A new spot for Rep. Evan Jenkins, one of the Republicans challenging Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin in West Virginia, opens with recent comments Clinton made at a conference halfway around the world. President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, she said last month in Mumbai, India, was all about looking “backwards,” while she won big cities and other places that are “optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward.”

It was a line guaranteed to strike a sour note in West Virginia, which voted for Trump over Clinton by more than 40 points.

 Hillary Clinton smiles as she accepts the nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 28, 2016. Lucy Nicholson / Reuters file

“It’s Hillary who’s got it backwards,” Jenkins says in the ad as undated images of urban riots flash on screen. “The big cities she won are the places flooding our state with heroin — where lawlessness, looting and liberalism rule.”

In Missouri, Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley, who is running against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, is airing an ad that shows a long clip of Clinton’s “backwards” comments before concluding, “This is what Claire McCaskill and her ‘president’ think of you.”

And a new digital ad from the National Republican Senatorial Committee opens by telling viewers Clinton “called you deplorable,” adding that “Florida won’t forget” Sen. Bill Nelson’s 2016 endorsement of her White House bid. It’s one of several state-specific spots being released by the GOP’s Senate campaign arm that ties vulnerable Senate Democratic incumbents to their party’s most recent presidential nominee.

Rick Wilson, a Florida-based Republican strategist and ad-maker, said the GOP’s strategic bet is that shifting the focus back to Clinton “lets Republicans and Donald Trump pretend like the 2016 campaign is still going on.”

“If I were advising Hillary Clinton,” he added, “I would raise a gigantic sh** ton of money for people and stay out of the news.”

Whatever Clinton does, that’s unlikely to happen in at least one corner of the media: Conservative news outlets have never stopped covering her with election-year intensity.

Some 17 months after Election Day 2016, Fox News is still devotes roughly equal time to Trump and Clinton, according to an analysis by the liberal media watchdog Media Matters — despite the fact that one is now a private citizen, and the other president of the United States.

Red-state Democrats run for cover

Democratic campaign officials say the GOP’s throw-back message reflects the lack of an effective new one in what promises to be a tough year for Republicans.

But candidates on the receiving end of the Clinton attacks aren’t dismissing their potential potency. Some are laying low, avoiding the issue entirely: Of half a dozen red state Senate Democrats asked to comment for this story, only one responded for the record.

That lawmaker, Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., a Trump-state Democrat facing a bumpy road to re-election, replied NBC’s question about what he thought Clinton’s 2018 role should be with a statement that didn’t mention her and said the midterms weren’t about “rehashing the tired political arguments of past elections.”

Nelson, who’s expected to face Florida GOP Gov. Rick Scott in November, avoided giving the Tampa Bay Times a direct response about whether he would campaign with Clinton. “I’m not going to answer that,” he told the paper. “Obviously when she was a candidate, I campaigned with her. That’s like you asking me, ‘would I campaign with Robert Redford’…We’ll take that up when we get there.”

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CEOs discuss pulling donations, additional public statements to fight voting bills

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More than 120 CEOs, business leaders, attorneys and experts came together on Saturday afternoon to discuss further action against voting legislation nationwide, call attendees told NBC News.

The group discussed numerous options for pushing back on the GOP-led efforts to restrict access to the ballot box including pulling donations, refusing to relocate business or jobs to states that pass restrictive measures, and moving events, said one of the call’s organizers, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld.

“It was incredibly concrete,” he told NBC News.

The meeting was first reported Sunday by The Wall Street Journal.

A wide variety of industries were represented on the call: financial, pharmaceutical, travel, technology, retail, and transportation. Notable attendees included Brad Karp of the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, Mellody Hobson of Ariel Investments, Chip Bergh of Levi Strauss and Arthur Blank, Home Depot co-founder and owner of the Atlanta Falcons.

Representatives of AMC Theaters and three major airlines were also in attendance.

Major corporations’ recent foray into the election policy debate comes as Republicans across the country work to advance hundreds of restrictions, changes that voting rights advocates and civil rights groups argue would disproportionately affect voters of color. Earlier this month, several major corporations spoke out against a restrictive new law in Georgia and pending legislation in Texas, while Major League Baseball announced it would move the All-Star Game out of Atlanta in protest of the state’s law.

Republicans immediately pushed back.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said that it is “stupid” for corporations to take stances on divisive political issues, before warning corporate America to “stay out of politics.” (He softened his stance a day later, saying, “I didn’t say that very artfully yesterday. They’re certainly entitled to be involved in politics. They are. My principal complaint is they didn’t read the darn bill,” referring to Georgia’s recently enacted law.)

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican, called the corporate response “nonsense,” and said American Airlines’ CEO should “go away” after the airline denounced a GOP-sponsored bill under consideration in the state where it is headquartered. Republican lawmakers in Texas advanced another restrictive voting bill out of the state House Thursday.

Sonnenfeld said he and other organizers invited more than 120 CEOs and hoped a dozen would join. Ninety turned out with just 48 hours’ notice — with a few calling in from Augusta, Georgia, where the Masters Tournament was underway — for the 2 p.m. ET call Saturday. Organizers left the Zoom room open after they wrapped up at 3:10 p.m., because attendees were still active in the chat.

“The overriding spirit is they don’t want politicians using wedge issues to try and solidify their hold on office, because that leads to angry communities and finger-pointing workforces and divided shareholders. It makes their job as CEOs harder to manage these constituents. They want social harmony,” Sonnenfeld told NBC News.

The Black Economic Alliance is coordinating a public statement that’s likely to be released this week, said Mike Ward, co-founder of the Civic Alliance, a nonpartisan group that encourages civic participation from businesses.

Ward said he’s helping organizers to follow up with companies on their responses and expects that a number of companies will come out in favor of federal voting legislation in the coming weeks.

House Democrats recently passed a sweeping voting rights bill, the For the People Act, which would create a federal floor of election access and regulations. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has promised it would get a vote in the full Senate, but its chances of passage are slim because of the 60-vote threshold in chamber currently split 50-50.

Democrats are also expected to reintroduce the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would update and strengthen the Voting Rights Act, this year.

Sonnenfeld said the call’s strong attendance as a “statement of defiance” against Republican pushback to corporate criticism.

“We had the top brass of American Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta. If they’re going to boycott airlines, they better have their own jet,” he said.



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Boris told to rip up Brexit deal as Britain waits for EU ratification – 'Pull plug NOW!'

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BORIS JOHNSON has been told to “pull the plug” on the post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union as Brussels continues to drag its feet over ratifying the agreement.

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Furious Nicola Sturgeon lashes out at Boris over Indyref2 – 'Can't stand in the way!'

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NICOLA Sturgeon has furiously lashed out at Boris Johnson over a second Scottish independence referendum, as she argued the Prime Minister “cannot stand in the way”.

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