DEAR AMERICA: Will Hillary WIN the White House?

Screen Shot 2016-08-21 at 11.29.46 AMFeeling a little over confident, Hillary Clinton has decided to look at the polls (which she probably paid for favorable results) and write down her Oval Office Agenda.

Hillary Clinton’s increasingly confident campaign has begun crafting a detailed agenda for her possible presidency, with plans to focus on measures aimed at creating jobs, boosting infrastructure spending and enacting immigration reform if current polling holds and she is easily elected to the White House in November.

In recent weeks, as her leads over GOP nominee Donald Trump have expanded, Clinton has started ramping up for a presidency defined by marquee legislation she has promised to seek immediately. The pace and scale of the planning reflect growing expectations among Democrats that she will win and take office in January alongside a new Democratic majority in the Senate.

While careful not to sound as if she is measuring the draperies quite yet, Clinton now describes what she calls improved odds for passage of an overhaul of immigration laws — the first legislative priority she outlined in detail last year — and what could be a bipartisan effort to rebuild the nation’s roads, bridges, airports, rail system and ports.

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She also could be immediately confronted with a choice about a Supreme Court vacancy that could set the tone for her relationship with Congress, and she plans to immediately champion new measures on campaign-finance reform and ending legal immunity for gun manufacturers.

Her campaign’s to-do list includes assembling a Cabinet that has women in roughly equal numbers to men and that otherwise reflects American diversity, and lobbying has intensified for those and scores of other jobs that Clinton would fill in her administration.

Some Clinton boosters remain concerned that, with an election focused so heavily on Trump’s deficiencies, she could enter the White House without a clear mandate. But Clinton’s team is hopeful that a trouncing of her Republican opponent in November could soften the ground for a robust set of proposals that could be implemented both with and without congressional action.

“There’s nothing like winning to change minds,” Clinton said this month.

How she builds relationships on Capitol Hill, especially with Republicans, will be one key measure of success in the first year or so, Democrats said. A second crucial element will be how effectively she organizes a White House staff to keep the focus on her policy priorities and minimize the controversies that long have dogged Clinton and her husband.

The most significant unknown — and one that would determine to a great extent her ability to govern successfully — is how poisonous the political climate might be after a defeat of Trump, who has already begun complaining that the election system is “rigged” against him.

“Her greatest challenge will be the environment in which she comes to office,” said a former Obama administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to offer a candid view. “I don’t think any president has come to office underwater on their favorable image. This would be uncharted waters coming to office as an unpopular person. You don’t have a wellspring of goodwill to draw on, even in the first 100 days.”

Clinton named a five-member transition planning team last week — headed by former interior secretary Ken Salazar and including other familiar names in Democratic circles — that would eventually oversee the selection of Cabinet secretaries and thousands of lower-level officials. She also moved some top policy advisers over from her campaign to her transition team, a move that reinforced the notion that she is getting ready to govern.

Trump, who also has a transition team at work, trails by double digits in some national polls. No candidate in more than 60 years has come back to win after being so far behind at this point in the general-election campaign. Trump also is losing in surveys taken in battleground states where he is staking his campaign. Among those states is Virginia, where he has a 14-point deficit, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll published in the past week.

Clinton has lately been telling Democratic audiences about her growing support among Republicans and touting what she says is a record of successfully working across the aisle to get things done. Her campaign regularly trumpets Republican endorsements and GOP disavowals of Trump.

It was a subject she treated gingerly during the toughest months of her primary contest against Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), who challenged her from the left. Still, some liberal voters who backed Sanders in the primaries eye Clinton’s legislative priorities with a mixture of suspicion and high expectations.

If Clinton wins, she will be “under great pressure from the left to move on a whole host of issues. The pressure is going to be enormous, more so than on President Obama,” said Jim Manley, a Democratic consultant who was a senior aide to Sen. Harry M. Reid (Nev.) when Reid was Senate majority leader.

Manley said he is highly skeptical that Clinton will be able to get some of her more liberal proposals — such as raising taxes on millionaires — through Congress, even under the rosiest of election scenarios for Democrats. That tax is key to paying for the massive jobs-and-infrastructure package at the heart of Clinton’s promise to help rebuild the American middle class.


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