This is not how Hillary Clinton expected to spend her summer. Just a few short months ago Clinton was sitting easily atop the polls, building an enviable campaign infrastructure, and attending Wall Street fundraising dinners where the money flowed like wine. Most importantly, her comfortable lead allowed her to sit back and throw verbal knives at whichever Republican candidate tickled her fancy.
Now, the tide has changed. Hillary’s primary challenger, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, has not only closed the gap in early primary states, he’s now winning. Mark Murray breaks down the results of a new NBC News/Marist poll:
In New Hampshire, the Vermont senator gets the support of 41 percent of Democratic voters, Clinton gets 32 percent and Vice President Joe Biden gets 16 percent. No other Democratic candidate receives more than 1 percent.
Back in July’s NBC/Marist poll, Clinton was ahead of Sanders in the Granite State by 10 points, 42 percent to 32 percent, with Biden at 12 percent. . .
In Iowa, Clinton maintains her previous advantage over Sanders — but her lead has declined from 24 points in July (49 percent to 25 percent) to 11 points (38 percent to 27 percent); Biden sits at 20 percent.
Bernie Sanders senses the change in momentum and is working hard to capitalize. At a campaign event on Saturday he openly suggested that the Clinton campaign is “getting nervous” about their chances of winning the Democrat nomination.
“Don’t tell anybody. I think what they know is that four months ago, when I entered this race, if you look at the polls, I was in 3 to 4%. Vast majority of the American people didn’t know who Bernie Sanders was, they didn’t know what my ideas were, and in last few months, we have amassed huge amounts of enthusiasm and huge amounts of energy,” Sanders said. “So obviously, I think the secretary’s people are getting nervous about the kind of energy and enthusiasm our campaign is bringing forth.”
Of course, Clinton is not one to take things down. The knives she was once sharpening for Republicans are not being sent Sanders’ way.
A new report from POLITICO said that the Clinton campaign was “unleashing the hounds” by deploying several proxies to begin ramping up attacks on their chief primary opponent. Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy criticized Sanders’ record on guns in New Hampshire, Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro attacked Sanders’ lack of outreach to Latinos in Iowa and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, knocked Sanders’ credentials and qualifications .
HIllary, for her part, didn’t stay silent either.
“You can wave your arms and give a speech but at the end of the day are you really connecting with and really hearing what people are either saying to you or are wishing that you would say to them?” Clinton told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Friday, a veiled jab at Sanders excitable style on the stump.
But is she connecting? No. The only time she shows even the slightest bit of humanity and passion is when she’s attempting to deflect questions about the email scandal. The rest of the time she’s giving a formulaic stump speech that might as well be read by a robot for all the excitement it incites.
Take, for example, this report from the field by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Salena Zito:
What looked like a block-long line turned out to be a crowd that could barely fill one-fourth of a football field. And the students in attendance? Well, they weren’t exactly there to support the former secretary of State.
“I am sort of a Bernie (Sanders) fan. I also had nothing else to do at 10 in the morning,” said Brian Miller, a chemical engineering student from Pittsburgh, waiting with more than a dozen friends for the event to start. . .
The event here wasn’t just a failure to connect with millennials, but a fundamental inability to read her audience and adjust her speech — or perhaps laziness, or a sense of entitlement that she shouldn’t have to work this hard for support.
Perhaps it was all of that. . .
A good politician would have noticed when he took the stage that the audience was filled with kids who likely did not grow up in Ohio (19 percent of Case Western Reserve University students are foreign-born) and were barely 12 years old when Clinton battled to win the state in 2008.
Instead, Clinton launched into a memorial for Ohio congressmen who were significant long before these kids were politically aware, then thanked the kids for their votes in 2008. (Again, they would have been 12 back then.)
“You lifted me up when I was down and out,” she said, referring to Ohio voters who got her flailing 2008 campaign back on its feet temporarily.
There wasn’t the sound of crickets chirping, but no one picked up what she put down.
If Clinton can’t connect with voters on a personal level, and it doesn’t appear she can, then the email controversy should be the least of her worries.