Obituary for the Clinton Campaign
February 15, 2008 2 Comments
Ramussen reports on Feb 14, 2008 that Obama is polling as the favorite for the Democratic nomination and the general election.
… Obama is the most popular candidate at the moment, viewed favorably by 55% and unfavorably by 43%.
Clinton is viewed favorably by 44% of Likely Voters nationwide, unfavorably by 53%.
McCain’s is viewed favorably by 50% and unfavorably by 47%.
Opinions about Clinton are more strongly held than opinions about either Obama or McCain.
While Hillary’s shining personality may be a key factor in the stumbling failures of her campaign, there are also reports of massive planning failures within the campaign itself. From the New York Times on Feb 14, 2008:
She and her team showered so much money, attention and other resources on … Feb. 5 that they have been caught flat-footed — or worse — in the critical contests that followed, her political advisers said.
She also made a strategic decision to skip several small states holding caucuses, states where Mr. Obama scored big victories, accumulating delegates and, possibly, momentum.
Her heavy spending and relatively modest fund-raising in January compounded the problems, leaving the campaign ill-equipped to plan after Feb. 5, advisers and donors say.
The Clinton campaign appears to be working from a playbook that reads like a strange blend of the Bush “Mission Accomplished” strategy and the Guiliani “New York and Florida” death-rattle. Focus on the big states, ignore the rest, and expect that it will be smooth sailing to the
coronation nomination, because Hillary will be greeted as a liberator, of course.
And then there’s the new way of running for President:
In Idaho, for example, Mr. Obama’s campaign started setting up nearly a year before the Feb. 5 caucus. By the day of the caucus, he had five offices in the state and 20 paid staff members. A few days before, Mr. Obama himself showed up in Boise, drawing 14,000 people to the Taco Bell Arena, the biggest in the state.
Mrs. Clinton, by contrast, sent one of her supporters, Senator Maria Cantwell of neighboring Washington State, to drop by just before the caucuses.
Funny that it could be surprising to the Clinton campaign that this newfangled idea of campaigning in the entire country might actually work.
“Idahoans are not used to having attention paid, so when someone does, it’s a huge deal,” said Chuck Oxley, a spokesman for the state’s Democratic Party. Turnout in Idaho was four times what it was in 2000. Mr. Obama won Idaho by 62 percentage points and took most delegates.
As to Obama’s success, this might be the understatement of the day:
At the same time, Mr. Jacobs said, Mr. Obama “had developed almost a new style of campaigning.”
Simple searches on YouTube for “Obama” and “Hillary” lend extra support to the notion that “the Obama campaign was more adept at using the Internet,” because if you are looking for horribly-produced and nauseating campaign propaganda from the Clinton campaign, you’ll find it interspersed with generally hatin’-on-Hillary videos.
By way of example, there’s a horrible pro-Hillary video via Wonkette (caution: this video may cause physical discomfort, minor seizures, spontaneous profanity and intense nausea) for anyone wondering about the details of such things. If you want a round-up of Obama’s speeches and other well-produced videos finding new and creative ways to get the general message out, YouTube could be all that you need.
Then there’s the Clinton campaign strategy, as articulated by the Huffington Post on Feb 13, 2008:
In the wake of [losses] to Barack Obama in last weekend’s slew of primaries, Clinton sought to minimize the political fallout by noting that several of the victories came from traditionally Republican-leaning states.
“It is highly unlikely we will win Alaska or North Dakota or Idaho or Nebraska,” she told reporters. “But we have to win Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Florida, Michigan … And we’ve got to be competitive in places like Texas, Missouri and Oklahoma.”
On Monday, the former first lady went a step further saying that it would take a “tsunami change in America,” for Democrats to carry some of Obama’s red states. “It’s just not going to happen,” she told ABC7 and Politico.
The premise of the argument was disputed by Democratic officials from several of those states, who say the landscape is ripe for the party to make inroads, and see the strategy of writing off the “red states” as antiquated.
And why can’t the Democrats win Alaska? After what that state has been through at the hands of its Republican leadership, what are they going to do, lead a successful campaign from prison? And why can’t we have a ‘tsunami of change’?
TIME speculates on Feb 14 2008:
Much of the blame, from both within and outside the campaign, has been aimed at Clinton’s chief strategist, Mark Penn. “He never adjusted,” says a prominent Democrat. “I don’t think he knows how to do primaries. He doesn’t know how to do what is essentially a family fight.” But that explanation misses a larger possibility: that Bill and Hillary Clinton, who came of age in politics a generation ago, no longer have the touch for the electorate they once did.
So as to what lestro points out, a generational shift in electoral politics makes a lot of sense because it feels so wrong to support Hillary. Since when do we live in a country divided into Blue America and Red America? If we believe Hillary, it is as if this country is run by one set of elites versus another, fighting over slim margins of Independents and swing voters in delegate-heavy states. If we listen to Obama, and pay attention to how his campaign has developed, he is fighting for the idea that this country does not have to be defined by political divisions.
It has taken awhile for my full-hearted support to develop for Obama, cynical chick that I tend to be, but this is the kind of ‘revolution’ I signed up for before heading off to law school during those good old Clinton days so long ago. Yeah, the twit thought there were certain issues that transcend party affiliation and set about developing her professional experience as one seeking to bridge political differences and focus on the needs of communities to address violence and poverty. The kind of cynicism that develops after falling so far from an ideal so high, it takes awhile to even start to shake it off. But then I saw how Obama was able to pick up the phone and intervene in Kenya. That was the final straw, and the twit decided to ever so cautiously step out onto a road paved with the dreams she has always wanted a President to have.
I don’t want a President who divides this country into ‘big’ and ‘little’ states, or one that thinks it is okay to ignore rural America, or one that seems so willing to write off half of the country due to perceptions of past disloyalty to the Blue Machine. I want a President who sees this country as unified and therefore demanding unified attention. I want a candidate who is able to see how anti-war this country is, and how that issue is far bigger than party affiliation. I want a candidate to notice that maybe ‘flyover country’ is going to have a hard time denying that the Bush tax cuts and tax rebate checks actually didn’t do anything to help their economic situation, and that the economy is getting far worse.
So the twit is supporting the candidate who seems to recognize that the divisive nature of the Bush administration has traumatized the identity of this country. The twit realizes that she won’t be able to pull a lever for Hillary if the increasingly unthinkable happens and she gets the nomination. The twit can’t endorse the old ways of doing business.
Especially if the old ways of doing business mean that a candidate’s inner circle is stabbing her in the back and leaking the damaging appearance of chaos in her campaign. Sorry, the twit needs a candidate with the sense to choose people she can trust to not run to reporters with juicy bits of illustration of a campaign in meltdown mode.
From the Wall Street Journal on Feb 14, 2008:
Clinton campaign operatives say it happened as top Clinton advisers gathered in Arlington, Va., campaign headquarters to preview a TV commercial. “Your ad doesn’t work,” strategist Mark Penn yelled at ad-maker Mandy Grunwald. “The execution is all wrong,” he said, according to the operatives.
“Oh, it’s always the ad, never the message,” Ms. Grunwald fired back, say the operatives. The clash got so heated that political director Guy Cecil left the room, saying, “I’m out of here.”