Clinton campaign: Less a breath of fresh air, more an air-freshener ad

April 16, 2015
Former U.S. Secretary of State Clinton pumps her fists in an auto shop as she campaigns for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination at Kirkwood Community College in Monticello, Iowa

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at an auto shop as she starts her campaign for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination in Monticello, Iowa, April 14, 2015. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Hillary Clinton’s video launching her campaign for the Democratic nomination was a montage of the New America. That’s the coalition Barack Obama brought to power in 2008: African-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans, working women, gays and lesbians, single mothers, Jewish voters, young people, educated professionals and the “unchurched” (the nearly one in five Americans who have no religious affiliation).

It’s the coalition that elected Obama twice, with a majority of the vote each time. That’s something even Bill Clinton couldn’t achieve. Many in these groups didn’t bother to vote when Obama was not on the ballot in the 2010 and 2014 midterms. Will they show up for Hillary? They will if Republicans keep insisting that a victory for Clinton would be “a third term for Obama.”

The New America is now the Democratic Party. To win, Clinton has to do more than Obama ever managed. She must do two things at the same time: hold the New America coalition together (as Obama did — twice) and build a broader governing coalition (as Obama did not really do). It won’t be easy.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks to a youngster  during a visit to the early childhood development initiative "talk to you baby" in Brooklyn

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at an early childhood development initiative “talk to you baby” in Brooklyn, New York, April 1, 2015. REUTERS/Kathy Willens/Pool

No sooner had Clinton declared than Republicans started calling her a candidate of the past. “Just yesterday, a leader from yesterday began a campaign for president by promising to take us back to yesterday,” Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said when he announced his campaign for the Republican nomination on Monday.

If she wins, Clinton would become the first woman president of the United States. That doesn’t sound like the candidate of yesterday. It sounds like diversity and inclusion — the rallying cry of the New America.

If Republicans nominate former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, the “candidate of the past” argument would go away. The past under President Bill Clinton looks a whole lot better to voters than the past under President George W. Bush. The Monica Lewinsky episode was not the equivalent of war in Iraq. Asked last year which president of the past 25 years they admire most, 42 percent of Americans named Clinton. Just 17 percent said Bush.

According to Hillary Clinton’s pollster, what voters want in 2016 is a president who can “get things done.” That’s their biggest complaint about Obama. He can’t get immigration reform, he can’t get climate change legislation, he can’t roll back Islamic State, he can’t stop Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Ukraine, he can’t get along with Israel. And there’s no “Obama boom.”

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Clinton talks with patrons as she campaigns at the Tremont Grille in Marshalltown, Iowa

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (C) talks with local residents as she campaigns for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination at the Tremont Grille in Marshalltown, Iowa, April 15, 2015. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

There are two ways to get things done. One is to beat your opponents’ brains out. Obama is not much of a fighter. He’s more of a thinker and an inspirational figure. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is tough and relentless. “One thing you know about me is that I am no shrinking violet,” she said when she ran against Obama for the Democratic nomination in 2008. “If I tell you I will fight for you, that is exactly what I intend to do.”

Clinton ran far ahead of Obama among white working class voters in the 2008 Democratic primaries. “They think she’s tough,” an Obama strategist told Politico. Clinton never gave up in 2008. She stayed in the race until the very end. Her determination earned her more admiration than resentment.

The other way to get things done is to build consensus. That’s hard to do when the country is so bitterly divided. With the rise of the New America, the Old America has become a resistance movement. It won’t go down without a fight. Obama tries to make deals with Republicans, but they want nothing to do with him.

Bill Clinton actually did make a lot of deals with Republicans — on welfare reform, on free trade, on a balanced budget, on financial deregulation. That’s one reason so many voters admire him.

But not the left. They believe Clinton sold them out on those deals, and they’re afraid Hillary Clinton will do the same thing. That’s why they want a strong progressive to get into to the race and challenge her. They want someone who won’t make deals with the enemy. They’re not interested in the politics of “kumbaya.”

Can Hillary Clinton be a consensus-builder? It sounds far-fetched. She has a reputation as a highly polarizing figure, which she was before she became secretary of state. Now she’s back in politics, and Hillary-haters are springing into action. The Associated Press reports that at least 10 political organizations list “defeating Hillary Clinton” as their primary mission in their filings with the Federal Election Commission.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is silhouetted by a stage light as she speaks at the University of the Western Cape about the U.S.-South Africa partnership, in Cape Town

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is silhouetted by a stage light as she speaks at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, August 8, 2012. REUTERS/Jacquelyn Martin/Pool

Nonetheless, it’s the kinder, gentler Hillary who seems to be running for president this time. She is not planning a “shock and awe” campaign like 2008. Her announcement video was so soft-focus it looked like an ad for air freshener. (It was the sort of ad that might run before a video. Watching it, you kept waiting for her video to start. Then suddenly you realized, “Oh. That’s the actual announcement.’’) In Silicon Valley in February, Clinton urged fellow Americans to “get out of our mind-sets, our partisan bunkers” and find “a nice warm purple space where we’re trying to solve problems.”

Her campaign is positioning her as more “relatable.” She’s a world-class celebrity who has spent years dealing with kings and presidents and diplomats. She’s going to spend the next nine months listening to farmers in Iowa and teachers in New Hampshire.

Can Clinton be a fighter and a consensus-builder at the same time? She hopes so. She talks about devising a plan and “bringing people to that plan, focusing on common-sense solutions and being relentless in driving toward them.”

A tough, relentless consensus-builder!

With her entry into the 2016 race, there is one thing you can safely predict: This campaign will be all about Hillary.

14 comments

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She might get my vote if she were to apologize and take ownership for her valor stealing attempts and lies about “running from snipers in Bosnia”.

Posted by LetBalanceCome | Report as abusive

The republicans have been crying about Hillary so long on AM radio and fok-snooze…. no one really listens to that stuff any more. They shot their little wads long ago, now they have no new ammo.

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive

AlklineState:

“…no one really listens to that stuff any more.” Please cite your factual source. I will contribute Fox is number 1 in cable news and MSNBC is off the bottom of the chart.

Who’s talking and who’s listening?

Hope she stays out of Chicago until the flu passes.

Posted by RG13 | Report as abusive

Hillary is a dishonest shopworn, tired political hack. It is time to move on from both the Clinton’s and the Bush family and get some fresh blood for both parties.

Posted by zotdoc | Report as abusive

Anyone who has seen Hillary’s scary gloating and chortling responses when interviewed about the horrendous death of Gadaffi and others has seen a portrayal of The Wicked Witch of the West.

Her CV boasts some strong accusations of illegal practices which don’t belong on any application form to become the most powerful person in the world. Combine this with her total lack of empathy for defeated foes and you have a loose cannon on deck as the world sails into very tricky geopolitical waters.

Posted by baglanboy | Report as abusive

It’s like watching your mother (or grandmother, depending on your age), go on vacation. Talking to strangers, stopping at Chipotle, posing for pictures. Embarrassing to watch! Is she running for Leader of the Free World, or isn’t she? She better start acting like she is!

Posted by dhfsfc | Report as abusive

“Obama tries to make deals with Republicans, but they want nothing to do with him.” I must’ve slept through those attempts.

“If she wins, Clinton would become the first woman president of the United States. That doesn’t sound like the candidate of yesterday. It sounds like diversity and inclusion…” Old and white is diversity and inclusion? What about Rubio and Cruz – young and Hispanic. That sounds more like your New America than Hillary does.

Posted by chaemeleo | Report as abusive

I’m really tired of people assuming Hillary Clinton is the same as Bill Clinton
“people approve Bill Clinton so they will approve Hillary”

They are not the same people, they don’t have the same policies.

Posted by henry1669 | Report as abusive

“I must’ve slept through those attempts.”

Almost certainly.

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive

z

Posted by diomarco | Report as abusive

zogbie says she has no chance of winning. He knows

Posted by diomarco | Report as abusive

“Over two days of campaigning in Iowa this week, where she discussed economics, Clinton, who is the commanding front-runner to be the Democratic nominee for the 2016 election, uttered not a word about the potential Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) between the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries.”

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/1 7/us-usa-election-clinton-idUSKBN0N82JC2 0150417

She does stand a chance of winning if she can marry her populist rhetoric with actual concrete stances on issues. Arguably her only real contest is with Jeb, and far too many Americans understand that choice.

Posted by Laster | Report as abusive

every dingbat that watches the ellen show will vote for this monster

Posted by cochise1 | Report as abusive

The first two Bushes started pointless wars, got good Americans killed for nothing, and broke the Country. There is no Jeb Bush presidency. He would be shot by his own military.

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive