04:25 - Source: CNN
'Inside Politics' Forecast: Taking on Trump

Story highlights

Some leading Democrats want Hillary Clinton to go after Donald Trump more aggressively

Michelle Obama will be a key part of the Democratic convention in July

Washington CNN —  

The high demand for Michelle Obama on the 2016 trail, Ben Carson’s evolving role and is that “Trump effect” the real deal?

It’s all a part of our “Inside Politics” forecast.

1) Obama’s in demand, but first lady’s a big draw

President Barack Obama is clearly itching for a big role in the 2016 campaign, eager to continue his years-long feud with Donald Trump. But Michelle Obama is more and more emerging as a big player in Democratic plans.

Look for a big role for the first lady at the Democratic National Convention. And Julie Pace of The Associated Press said there is also high demand for her from Democratic candidates looking to raise money.

“She’s been traditionally a reluctant campaigner, but she’s quite an effective one, particularly with African-Americans and young women, another group that hasn’t really rallied around Hillary Clinton.”

It’s a role Michelle Obama never really wanted, and Pace said she is looking forward to putting her role as fund-raiser and campaigner behind her.

2) Clinton hitting Trump hard – but hard enough?

Hillary Clinton has been quite harsh in her characterizations of presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump, calling him “reckless,” a “loose cannon” who in her view is not qualified to be president.

Hardly tame criticism. But Jonathan Martin of The New York Times said there is a clamoring among leading Democrats for an even more scorching strategy.

“There was a reaction among some people in sort of Democratic politics when she said that Trump wasn’t qualified to be president. That was supposed to be tough and they’re saying, no, it has to be more than that. You can’t just say he’s not qualified. You have to go much more aggressive against him. This is unconventional warfare, and you can’t line up traditional infantry and artillery fighting what is a guerrilla war.”

3) A familiar question: Do the rules apply to Trump?

Clinton has a much bigger staff than Trump. Does it matter?

The Republican National Committee is investing hugely in a digital advertising campaign aimed at shoring up Trump’s weaknesses among women and Latinos. But will it work?

Matt Viser of The Boston Globe walked through why the factors that mattered in past campaigns may not matter this round.

“The RNC has just announced about $150 million on a digital ad buy trying to sort of go with Hispanics and women, two demographics they need and Donald Trump, in particular. But if the primary taught us anything, it’s that political ads didn’t really impact it. Otherwise we’d be talking about Jeb Bush right now and we’re not.”

4) Ben Carson has a new role – again

Ben Carson is a former primary rival-turned-top Trump surrogate who has proven to be a headline generator. And not always in his candidate’s best interest.

Senior Trump aides, for example, rolled their eyes when Carson put some possible Trump vice presidential picks into the public conversation.

There has been debate also about his official role. Part of a vice presidential search team. Then no. Then maybe, or sort of.

CNN’s Nia-Malika Henderson said there is a new evolution for Carson – and one that is perhaps a better fit.

“It seems like he’s found sort of his natural fit. He’s going to be reaching out to evangelical leaders for Donald Trump …,” Henderson said.

“I reached out to Carson’s people to say, ‘What is his pitch to these leaders?’ and they said listen, the simple pitch is it’s Trump versus Hillary, but also he turned to the Bible and they said sometimes God uses men who are sinners to do his greatest work, so that is the kind of pitch.”

5) GOP research suggests no automatic Trump drag in key Senate races

Establishment forces determined to help Republicans keep their Senate majority have launched the opening salvo of a multimillion dollar ad campaign after reviewing fresh research they said shows no negative “Trump effect” on their candidates.

The polling and other research was conducted to get a sense of whether voters would punish other GOP candidates for controversial Trump positions that might not go over well in states that tend to lean blue in presidential cycles.

Two sources familiar with the research said there is no immediate evidence of a Trump drag, and the first wave of ads was crafted with that in mind.

The Chamber of Commerce announced its Senate spending in Ohio, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. CNN is told ad time was also purchased in Nevada and Arizona.

All but one of those races – Nevada – involves Republican incumbents viewed as vulnerable.

One of the sources familiar with the chamber ad strategy said the pro-GOP forces are well aware Democrats will try to paint Republican candidates as Trump sidekicks. But this source said the early research was encouraging, and that those forces believed the critical period to invest and try to shape the key Senate races was between now and the GOP convention in July.