Hillary Clinton is to campaign reboots as President Obama is to economic pivots. They just keep doing them in the offhand hope that doing the exact same thing will lead to better political results.
This time, Team Hillary wants to reframe Clinton as a spontaneous, funny and humble, the New York Times’ Amy Chozick reports:
There will be no more flip jokes about her private email server. There will be no rope lines to wall off crowds, which added to an impression of aloofness. And there will be new efforts to bring spontaneity to a candidacy that sometimes seems wooden and overly cautious.
Hillary Rodham Clinton declared her campaign for president nearly five months ago, before the startling rise of Senator Bernie Sanders, the volcanic candidacy of Donald J. Trump and the very public exploration of another White House run by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
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.”
What’s the old saying? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. And fool me five times (or six, or seven – I confess I lost count) then maybe you should just give it up. But that’s exactly what Clinton seems to be trying to pull.
After all, she was forced to re-launch her candidate in mid-June, less than two months after initially declaring her candidacy. At the time it was clear that Clinton was attempting to distance herself from the questions surrounding her email scandal and the cloud of impropriety forming around the Clinton foundation. Her team said that voters would see the “new Hillary Clinton,” a down to earth woman who will “fight” for liberal causes.
Nothing happened. Then, in early August, Clinton once again promised a “new strategy” that would shift away from her cautious, calculating approach and would instead begin to play offense.
Nothing happened. Then, on August 21, we learned that the Clinton campaign was developing a new three-pronged strategy to stop her slide in the pools. The strategy included educating the public on the classification process, pivoting to policy announcements, and strongly defending her tenure as Secretary of State.
Nothing happened. Then, just a week later, the Clinton camp promised to once again reset her campaign strategy in order to shift the conversation away from her email controversy. The aggressive strategy, which had nothing to do with substance, and everything to do with “delivery, emphasis and posture,” began and ended when she compared the GOP presidential field’s stance on women’s issues to “terrorist groups.”
And now, the latest reboot, in which Clinton tries to frame herself as spontaneous and authentic by placing a carefully planned story in the New York Times. Anyone else see the ridiculousness of that scheme? Obama’s former adviser David Axelrod did. He tweeted, “Today’s @nytimes story on HRC read more like The Onion: Her detailed plan to show more authenticity and spontaneity. #Justdoit!”
Sadly, for Team Clinton, which appears more inept by the day, Axelrod wasn’t alone in the sentiment. David A. Graham reports for The Atlantic:
It’s a bad sign when your presidential campaign needs a reboot. It’s a worse sign when your advisers announce that reboot publicly.
That’s exactly where Hillary Clinton finds herself this week. In an attempt to right what is universally seen as a listing campaign, the Democratic frontrunner is attempting to reassure her supporters, donors, and party—as well as prospective supporters and donors—that she has what it takes to run and win a race. But so far, the hamfisted execution of that reboot suggests that she hasn’t learned enough from the debacle of her 2008 campaign, and it’s hard to imagine that events of the last two days will do much to reassure major donors and party leaders.
At least when Obama pivoted he just went in circles. Every time Clinton reboots it feels like she’s going backwards. Perhaps it’s no coincidence then that her poll numbers keep falling.