Hillary's campaign floundering so badly that WaPo and NYT reporters wink and nod to readers
Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign is floundering badly, and the latest attempts to launch a post Labor Day new tone reveal how devastatingly ineffectual her effort is. Still firmly stuck in the twentieth century, the campaign granted staffer interviews to the Washington Post and New York Times, as a means of getting the message out that they have a handle on their problems. You can’t get any mainstreamier than those two pulp based publications. And yet the reporters chosen for the task have to let their readers know, albeit indirectly, how pathetic these efforts really are.
But the evidence of the resulting pieces is not in the least persuasive. The New Hillary, like the New Nixon who faced the House impeachment committee on which Hillary served s a staffer, is not going to sway anyone.
Writing in the Post, Ann Gearen and Philip Rucker verge close to mockery in leading off their article with a checklist approach:
After this summer of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s discontent, when her public support dropped while the stock of real and potential challengers rose, her checklist for a campaign revamp this fall is long.
New humble posture when asked about her use of a private e-mail system for government work? Check.
New reckoning with the possibility that she may lose the New Hampshire primary, and perhaps even the Iowa caucuses? Check.
Feisty, give-as-good-as-she-gets zingers about Republican front-runner Donald Trump? Newsy policy speeches like one on Iran, slated for Wednesday? Not-so-subtle muscle-flexing to discourage a challenge by Vice President Biden? Check, check and check.
And when it gets to substance from the campaign, the efforts seem to amount to shouting louder:
Part of the fall plan is to do a lot more television interviews, such as an appearance this week on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” and to showcase Clinton’s potential to make history as the first female president.
“The biggest difference is just bigger audiences being able to see more of her, so that means television,” campaign communications director Jennifer Palmieri said in an interview.
The campaign last week extended its initial $2 million television advertising campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire. Clinton will spend $1.5 million in Iowa in September and October and $2.6 million in New Hampshire, reflecting both the faster pace of the campaign and her falling fortunes in New Hampshire.
The piece closes with another close brush with mockery:
At a news conference Saturday during her visit to Portsmouth, N.H., a reporter asked Clinton whether she considered herself a “joyful” candidate, as GOP candidate and former Florida governor Jeb Bush had vowed to become.
“I do,” Clinton said, ignoring the fact that her summer on the campaign trail has often seemed to be more of a chore.
“Off we go, joyfully,” Clinton quipped as she stepped away from the podium.
The candidate turned back to the press corps and, snapping her fingers, said, “Let’s get some joy going.”
Over at the Times, I actually feel sorry for Amy Chozick, the reporter assigned the Hillary campaign beat. She was sent over to Brooklyn, to interview in a not-for-attribution format, campaign staffers. The editors at the Gray Lady do not permit their reporters as much room for irony, but as someone with a career that wil extend beyond the current campaign, Chozick must let her readers know what’s really going on, while dutifully passing along the latest party line from the campaign.
In extensive interviews by telephone and at their Brooklyn headquarters last week, Mrs. Clinton’s strategists acknowledged missteps — such as their slow response to questions about her email practices — and promised that this fall the public would see the sides of Mrs. Clinton that are often obscured by the noise and distractions of modern campaigning.
They want to show her humor. The self-effacing kind (“The hair is real, the color isn’t,” she said of her blond bob recently, taking note of Mr. Trump) has played better than her sarcastic retorts, such as when she asked if wiping a computer server was done “with a cloth.”
They want to show her heart, like the time she comforted former drug addicts in a school meeting room in New Hampshire.
And, to soothe Democrats uneasy about her shaky poll numbers, they want her to relentlessly contrast herself with Republicans, saying she is at her best when showing willingness to do battle.
“The true game changer is when there’s a personified opponent,” said her communications director, Jennifer Palmieri.
Chozick dutifully notes that success is not guaranteed:
Previous attempts to introduce Mrs. Clinton’s softer side to voters have backfired amid criticism that the efforts seemed overly poll tested. This time the strategy will compete with news coverage on the latest developments over her email.
And she observes the inconsistencies in execution:
Other changes are in store for the campaign. After a focus group in New Hampshire last month revealed that voters wanted to hear directly from Mrs. Clinton about her email practices, she has sought to offer a more contrite tone, though her detractors say she is still too grudging. (In an interview with The Associated Press on Monday, Mrs. Clinton said she did not need to apologize for using a private email server. “What I did was allowed,” she said. “It was allowed by the State Department. The State Department has confirmed that.”)
Chozick also squarely faces the fundamental problem in Hillary’s choice of an issue to deflect attention away from her own problems and get back on familiar Democrat territory:
While Mrs. Clinton’s central message will remain focused on addressing income inequality and lifting the middle class, she is scrapping the phrase “everyday Americans,” which advisers said was confusing and did not resonate. (One compared it to the Walmart slogan, “Everyday low prices.”)
Mrs. Clinton will still invoke the joy brought into her life by her granddaughter, Charlotte, but, given the child’s obvious advantages and privilege, will speak more broadly about building a better future for all Americans’ children and grandchildren.
Chozick expresses skepticism about whether or not it will work:
Whether the blueprint her strategists are preparing will be enough to overcome Mrs. Clinton’s weaknesses is an open question. Some pollsters have pointed to a likability problem with the former first lady, and, in presidential contests, the more likable candidate typically wins.
Still, she is optimistic about her chances and upbeat most of the time, the aides said. Since declaring her candidacy, Mrs. Clinton has embraced a rigorous diet (when staff members set up a mouthwatering spread of barbecue after a stop in Arkansas, she chose to eat just a single tomato), lost significant weight and thrown herself into yoga and weight training, giving her new energy.
Even though she deleted those thousands of emails about yoga she still managed to lose weight!
There is no sign of any recognition yet that Hillary’s problem is herself. Owing to the nature of the people Hilary chooses as her closest staff, it is unlikely that anyone will deliver that message to her. So it will up to Hillary to grasp the difficult message that people simply don’t like her. So enormous is her fundraising and super-delegate lead that t he only question is whether that will happen before or after her defeat at the polls.