Hillary's Act II
by Jeff Dinelli
Written by friend and Left Coaster fan Paul Bua:
Never underestimate the power of second acts in American politics.
We are only at day 43 since the first votes were cast in Iowa -- now the race gets interesting. In the next few weeks we will see the resiliency, strength and true character of both of our candidates.
We haven’t seen a Democratic struggle like this in years, and context and perspective towards the issues, the politics, and the process is essential right now.
While we have witnessed unprecedented turnouts in both open and closed primaries, including first-time voters engaged like never before, I do believe (still) that Hillary is the better candidate. Although her back is currently against the wall, despite the 24/7 news cycle perception that she has lost crucial momentum, and the shifting narrative since Super Tuesday, Clinton can (and will) turn things around.
As Democrats we must remember the basic goals: winning the White House in November as a united party, engaging our base and expanding our coalition. We must concentrate on repudiating the last 8 years of Bush policies -- engaging the electorate, resolving the current problems that plague this country, and setting the foundations for future policies.
Here’s my “how to” guide for a Clinton comeback:
1. Candidly assess your campaign up until Super Tuesday, and engage Obama on his campaign strategies.
Play up your strengths, admit mistakes, and move on. Point out successes in big state victories (NY, CA) and how you were able to defeat Obama expectations (ie -- “The pollsters had me behind 12 points in CA, but I won by 10," etc.).
Remind the electorate that Obama has not won a big Democratic base state, and that caucus successes (with lower voter turnout) in “red states” do not translate to general election wins.
Dismiss the criticisms against the “A List campaign team” and Mark Penn’s strategy. There were 8 candidates running, over $100 million raised, and more than half the electorate sent to the polls on Feb. 5th. Argue that a strategy to “win early” was necessary to avoid party division, which we see now, and which leads to my next point...
Engage the electorate on Obama/Axelrod’s “divide and conquer” strategy. It has become quite apparent (vis a vis the released Obama delegate spreadsheets) that Obama’s team wanted a delegate stalemate, forcing the “Establishment” to use superdelegates and play the “disenfranchisement” game. This is a no-win situation for the Clinton campaign -- they need to win on the primary battleground, with victories in TX, PA, and OH the key to nomination.
2. Address the dysfunctionality of the Democratic primary process, explain the purpose of the legitimacy of the superdelegates, and force Obama to agree to fairness (no double standards in delegate apportionment). This means:
If pledged delegates legitimize a nomination, then superdelegates should reinforce this. Criteria for superdelegates:
--I am voting for the person who got the most votes nationally
--I am voting for the person who won my state
--I am voting for the person who won my congressional district
Under this current argument (being pushed by Obama) then superdelegates like Senators Kerry and Kennedy would have to vote for Hillary, since she won MA. If Obama wants to play the “endorsements” / vote for the better candidate game, then both candidates should not play the “disenfranchisement” card.
Speaking of disenfranchisement...
3. Seat the Michigan and Florida delegates and find a solution to this mess SOON. There is no reason why these two states should be “punished” when five states moved their primary/caucus dates. This was clearly a political move by the DNC Rules and By-laws Committee, and these sanctions relating to the ruling is worth whatever it takes to get people like Donna Brazile (who is clearly siding with Obama) to remove herself from being in a position of authority.
Too many voters are at stake in the general election -- by this count Hillary would be ahead of the delegate count, and it was a mistake when Obama and Edwards to removed their names from the ballot.
4. Engage the “anti-Clinton” insurgency, make your candidacy an appeal to change for the future and also a referendum on the Clinton presidency of the 1990s. Appeal to the electorate on “who do you trust?"
From Obama supporter David Geffen’s initial comments, to Obama’s subtle attacks on “her husband’s policies," Obama is tactically playing the “negative” card.
Engage Obama, his surrogates, the media and the Republicans on this every chance you get. Appeal to the electorate and lay your candidacy on their support or rejection of your public service over the years.
Remind the electorate of past successes and that the future is built on and by them. Remind Americans that your husband’s presidency was not a failure (while Obama links it to the Bush years) and that the mess in Iraq is Bush’s war, not yours.
Appeal to issues of trust. Who can the electorate trust in the Oval Office?
Engage the public on how the media establishment portrays you and Obama.
Peggy Noonan’s “Can Mrs. Clinton Lose?” is a perfect example:
Her characterization of Hillary:
“Political professionals are leery of saying, publicly, that she is losing, because they said it before New Hampshire and turned out to be wrong. Some of them signaled their personal weariness with Clintonism at that time, and fear now, as they report, to look as if they are carrying an agenda. One part of the Clinton mystique maintains: Deep down journalists think she's a political Rasputin who will not be dispatched. Prince Yusupov served him cupcakes laced with cyanide, emptied a revolver, clubbed him, tied him up and threw him in a frozen river. When he floated to the surface they found he'd tried to claw his way from under the ice. That is how reporters see Hillary.”
And of Obama:
“He is the brilliant young black man as American dream. No consultant, no matter how opportunistic and hungry, will think it easy -- or professionally desirable -- to take him down in a low manner.”
5. Engage Obama supporters. Appeal to their issues, their hopes, remind them that you are for them as well. Remind them that you are not like the GOP and Bush, and that the 1990s were good for America. Appeal for their support upon your victories in PA, TX, and OH, engage them now, with the superdelegates, etc.
6. Finally, win decisively in OH, TX, and PA, get the party backing, and solidify your support among Obama/Edwards supporters. Solidify your victories by appealing to Obama and Edwards to join you in your quest for the White House (as VP, Attorney General, etc.).