MIXNER’S 2016 ELECTION CENTRAL—
If I were on Hillary Clinton’s staff, I would really welcome the potential entry of Vice President Biden. Yes, the race becomes more difficult, but apparently the former Secretary of State runs a better campaign when she is more challenged. There is something about a tough race that brings out the best in her. And we have seen it in recent days.
In 2008, when it appeared she would receive the nomination unchallenged, her campaign drifted and the staff was more focused on nailing down jobs in a future Clinton White House instead of electing their candidate. Not until Obama made clear it was going to be a tough race did her campaign come alive. Although she was organizationally too late to compete in the non-primary states, remember she won Ohio, Michigan, West Virginia, Kentucky, California and Massachusetts. Hillary stayed competitive right until the end.
It was such a close race in 2008 that Ms. Clinton believed that the superdelegates would deliver her the nomination. That is a race that should have taught both Clintons a real lesson that nothing is inevitable and that running a campaign like it’s 1992 just doesn’t work in this brave new world of social media.
Fast forward to the 2016 race for President and listen to the horror stories being told by Clinton supporters of a badly run campaign.
Once again, the nomination of Ms. Clinton seems inevitable and, again, one mistake after another is haunting the campaign. The email situation could not have possibly been handled worse. Clinton has articulated bold policy position papers that put people to sleep and she has failed to translate them into fighting words on the campaign trail.
The campaign failed to acknowledge the Democratic Party’s shift to new populist human rights and environmental issues. Worse, Ms. Clinton’s stiffness seems more like the Queen of England than a tough, accessible, no-nonsense candidate ready to take on the problems of the world.
And now we are hearing once more about the superdelegates and a ‘Southern strategy’.
As the candidate and her campaign refuse to take responsibility for their own failings and blame everything including the ‘old right wing conspiracy’, many of her supporters accuse anyone who raises real concerns about her campaign of being a misogynist and Clinton hater. This, of course, has the effect of alienating many Democrats already very nervous about the campaign.
Then along comes Bernie.
The Clinton campaign early on should have never allowed his candidacy to take off, but they simply brushed off his message and his highly-respected progressive voice. Suddenly, ‘the Bern’ is resonating with many progressive Democrats and Ms. Clinton appears vulnerable. In fact, it is the success of the Sanders campaign that has made it possible for Vice President Biden to seriously consider entering the race.
Suddenly, Clinton’s back is against the wall as in 2008 and we are seeing a more effective campaigner, a tough advocate for issues like women’s rights, LGBT rights, gun control, the Keystone Pipeline and climate change in a way that distances her from boring policy papers.
An announcement from a campaign spokesman yesterday heralded a new version of Ms. Clinton that would be more personable, funny and tough.
Indeed, tactics like her appearance on Saturday Night Live show a more relaxed and accessible Ms. Clinton. How wonderful was it to see her on that show? Her impression of Donald Trump still has me laughing. Her reaction after the Oregon shooting was quick, tough and indicative of a leader rather than someone with a finger in the air waiting to see what the polls might say.
Is it too late? Maybe.
The surge for Sanders is real. It is not going away anytime soon.
If “Just Joe” enters the race within the next two weeks, she could be in real trouble. Joe Biden is authentic. Working class Americans love him. Biden has a special humanity that has been born out of a difficult personal journey. Biden has the ability to connect with people in a personal way that has so far eluded Ms. Clinton.
There is no question that Hillary is in trouble.
The email situation and what may come out down the road worries many Democrats. All Democrats know that the Benghazi hearings are a sham and Congressman Kevin McCarthy’s statement proves it. However, that is not the situation with the emails. The way she has handled that issue from day one has led to mistrust.
What we do know is that she appears to have received the message and the fighter from the 2008 campaign is emerging. Let’s hope her campaign supports this version of Hillary because it is so much better than all the previous ones.
Hillary Version 2.0 might just make her President.
This is part of a series of columns about the upcoming 2016 election. The opinions expressed are those of the author.