Hillary Clinton's plan to win suburban women

Story highlights

  • Hillary Clinton is holding small events with suburban women
  • She is touting positions on childcare spending and universal pre-K

Louisville, Kentucky (CNN)Donald Trump is holding massive rallies. Hillary Clinton is spending her time at coffee shops and child care centers.

Two candidates, two dramatically different strategies.
    Clinton headlined a series of conversations in Virginia and Kentucky this week with a focus on kitchen table issues like backing universal pre-kindergarten, rolling out a plan for affordable childcare and touting her position on equal pay for women.
    The Clinton campaign hopes targeting suburban voters with small, tailored events, which harken back to small events and roundtables the candidate did when she kicked off her campaign in early 2015, will contrast well with Trump, who is more comfortable pumping up crowds. Her target: suburban women voters, a critical bloc for the former secretary of state. It's a group that tilted towards Mitt Romney in 2012 and who polls show are not excited about Clinton's candidacy.
    At the Family Health Centers of Louisville, Clinton touted affordable childcare spending, saying that if people are going to talk about family values -- something Republicans routinely do -- "then we have to value families."
    "And no family should have to pay more than 10 percent of their income on childcare," she said.
    Clinton barely mentioned Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, her Democratic opponent, who has pledged to stay in all the way through June, at the three events, instead focusing on Trump and issues she called "a personal passion."
    "It is the most important job that any of us can do and we are making it really expensive and very difficult," Clinton said about child care costs during a roundtable at the Family Care Center in Lexington, where the candidate was flanked by red tricycles and finger painted artwork. "We need to do more to help provide quality childcare like what we are seeing here."
    Clinton said after the event that programs looking to help families have "just not kept up with the times" and are "really designed still for an earlier time that just doesn't exist anymore."
    Democrats have struggled with white, suburban women in recent years. President Barack Obama lost white women by 8 points and married women by 7 points in 2012. But with Trump as the nominee, Clinton's campaign feels it can outperform Obama in those categories.
    "Donald Trump's extreme positions and demeaning comments may have helped him win the Republican nomination but it repels many general election voters," said Brian Fallon, Clinton's press secretary.
    But there is work left to do. A recent CNN poll showed a majority of suburban voters are not excited about Clinton's candidacy and that 51% hold an unfavorable opinion of her. Those same voters also aren't fond of Trump; 53% of suburban voters have a negative opinion of the presumptive Republican nominee.
    In Louisville, Clinton hit Trump directly for opposing the federal minimum wage (although Trump recently said he might raise it) and pushing to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
    "I think with somebody like Donald Trump, you would see a race to the bottom across our country with working families paying the price and don't think that is a risk our families can afford," Clinton said.
    Though Trump's campaign disagrees that he will struggle with women -- the candidate regularly notes that he "cherishes" women -- Clinton's top aides said that by leaning hard into the historic nature of her campaign, she could win married women.
    "The media is so after me on women," Trump tweeted earlier this year. "Wow, this is a tough business. Nobody has more respect for women than Donald Trump!"

    Focus on Kentucky for primary, Virginia for November

    Kentucky isn't a general election target, but an important spot for Clinton as she tried to keep Sanders from making a late run for delegates. Sanders defeated Clinton easily in West Virginia Tuesday night, and while the loss doesn't substantially weaken her commanding delegate lead, it does feed into the notion that Democrats may not be entirely pleased with their likely nominee.
    Clinton wants to sprint to the finish line, so the campaign is fighting more for Kentucky next week, even as they focus most of their attention on Trump.
    Her visit to the Washington, D.C., suburbs in Northern Virginia, however, is aimed at the general election in a key swing state that Barack Obama won twice. On Monday, she met with parents from Loudoun County for a conversation about everything from traffic to over-testing in schools.
    "It is clear that there are so many challenges facing young families today that we have got to come to grips with," Clinton said. "We have to work together to try to find the best menu of options because, you know, there is no one size fits all (solution)."
    Clinton has often tried to ignore Trump, even though the real estate tycoon all but locked up the Republican nomination and has trained his focus on her.
    In a series of events and interviews over the weekend, Trump labeled Clinton an "enabler" in her husband's scandals and affairs of the 1990s.
    "She's been the total enabler. She would go after these women and destroy their lives," Trump said at a rally over the weekend. "She was an unbelievably nasty, mean enabler, and what she did to a lot of those women is disgraceful."
    Asked by reporters about the attack on Monday, Clinton gave it a rhetorical shrug.
    "I have nothing to say about him and how he is running his campaign," Clinton said, adding that she is going to run a campaign "about a positive vision for our country with specific plans that I think will help us solve problems that we are facing."
    She added, "I am running my campaign. I am not running against him. He is doing a fine job of doing that himself."