Hillary Clinton: The Incredible, Disappearing Candidate

Where has Hillary Clinton been?

It’s amazing that we even have to ask the question. After all, the August before a presidential election is usually when candidates are at their most ubiquitous, jetting here and there across competitive states in a desperate attempt to shake as many hands as possible before the grueling debate season begins. But Clinton seems to have disappeared just as her party needs her the most. So where did she go? Amy Chock and Jonathan Martin report for the New York Times:

Mr. Trump has pointed to Mrs. Clinton’s noticeably scant schedule of campaign events this summer to suggest she has been hiding from the public. But Mrs. Clinton has been more than accessible to those who reside in some of the country’s most moneyed enclaves and are willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to see her. In the last two weeks of August, Mrs. Clinton raked in roughly $50 million at 22 fund-raising events, averaging around $150,000 an hour, according to a New York Times tally.

And while Mrs. Clinton has faced criticism for her failure to hold a news conference for months, she has fielded hundreds of questions from the ultrarich in places like the Hamptons, Martha’s Vineyard, Beverly Hills and Silicon Valley. …

If Mr. Trump appears to be waging his campaign in rallies and network interviews, Mrs. Clinton’s second presidential bid seems to amount to a series of high-dollar fund-raisers with public appearances added to the schedule when they can be fit in. Last week, for example, she diverged just once from her packed fund-raising schedule to deliver a speech.

Sigh. At least she’s being true to herself. She’s always been much more at home in Hamptons (where she’s currently spending the summer in the guesthouse of Steven Spielberg’s nine acre compound) than in the Rust Belt. And that’s what made the whole of her campaign so cringeworthy. There was simply no way that she was going to convince Americans that she was “the president for the struggling and the striving” when she earlier argued she was “dead broke” after leaving the White House, despite just having bought two mansion for $1.75 million and $2.85 million respectively.

Her “I’m-just-a-normal-person-just-like-you”-approach to campaigning wasn’t just fundamentally flawed, it was horrendously off-putting.

“It’s got all the markings of the manufactured, consultant-driven plan to try and look normal,” Kevin Madden told Politico, of Clinton’s early attempts at normalcy, which included stopping to eat fast food. “Hillary Clinton doesn’t eat at Chipotle, we know that. So do average voters … ‘Hello, everyday people! I am here to dine amongst you in this fast-food establishment!’”

Perhaps she sensed that Americans weren’t buying her attempts at normalcy. Perhaps she was just very uncomfortable pressing the flesh with the masses. Perhaps she thought that if she just raised enough money from her rich friends that she could craft her image with television advertisements. Or perhaps she just felt like she was so far ahead in the polls that she didn’t need to dwell among the commoners.

Whatever the reason, the strategy isn’t working. Jonathan Easly and Amie Parnes write for The Hill:

Hillary Clinton is facing questions about her campaign strategy as Donald Trump laps her on the trail and tightening polls show an increasingly competitive presidential race.

The Democratic nominee nearly vanished from the campaign trail in August to attend high-end private fundraisers and to prepare for the first presidential debate on Sept. 26.

At times it has appeared that Clinton believes she can run out the clock against Trump, who fell in the polls after a disastrous stretch following the Democratic convention. …

It used to look like Clinton should just spend the fall at the International Space Station watching Trump implode, but it raises the question of whether you can disappear from the campaign trail without it having some effect,” said Marquette University pollster Charles Franklin, whose Wisconsin survey found Clinton’s favorability declining across every metric.

Clinton has gone days between events in some cases and hasn’t given a press conference in more than 270 days, a fact that Republicans have been eager to highlight.

“I don’t think anyone can tell her story as well as she can, so she needs to be out there telling it,” said Democrat Nina Turner, a former top spokesperson for Bernie Sanders. “You have to face the voters if you want them to vote for you. You have to be out there talking to them and engaging with them and having real conversations and dialogue.”

The only problem is that Clinton, unlike Sanders, can’t tell a story that hasn’t been pre-written for her. She’s running for president not because she sees a problem that she knows she can fix, or because she’s passionate about a given cause. She’s running because it’s the next thing she needs on her resume. That’s not a story worth telling. And maybe that’s why one of her campaign strategists, when asked when Clinton was going to hold a press conference, snapped: “We’ll have a press conference when we want to have a press conference.”

Clinton can’t hide the ball forever. Unless that is, she decides to drop her campaign for President of the United States and opt instead to run the neighborhood association in the Hamptons.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore. See more of his work HERE.