Why is Hillary Clinton’s campaign team -- supposedly so experienced and so far superior to those of the other candidates-- advising her straight into defeat?
She’s gone steadily downhill since she announced, and at this rate, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd will be ahead of her in a few months.
One key reason may be that her ‘team’ may not be used to working in Democratic primaries and never expected any real opposition this time. They simply don’t know how to deal with the nuances of a primary, as we can see in what’s happened to her ratings.
Bill Clinton didn’t have a primary in 1996 and Hillary has none in 2000 and only token opposition in 2006. So, two of her top three advisers – Mark Penn and Howard Wolfson,- have had no experience in serious national primary campaigns. It shows. And the third member of the top tier, Mandy Grunwald, is a film producer, not a strategist.
But one thing is clear: All of them, and Hillary, too, expected to simply walk away with the Democratic nomination and then grab the White House. Just like the two New York Senate races.
But then along came Obama.
After his announcement, Hillary had no choice. She had to jump in. But she and her advisers still thought that she could run as a sort of imperial- incumbent- in- waiting whose ascendancy was a given.
That didn’t work.
Obama and Edwards didn’t hesitate to criticize call her on her Iraq war vote. (The one that was never mentioned in the New York Senate campaign) And the Democratic left has repeatedly challenged her conservative positions.
Her advisers thought that they could use the same tactics that they had used in the Clinton White House and in her two virtually unopposed Senate races. And so they attacked Obama.
Those didn’t work.
Instead of helping her, she completely lost her lead over black voters. It was a disaster.
They thought that she would charm the voters once they got to know her.
That certainly hasn’t worked.
It’s going to be a very long campaign and already, she doesn’t seem to be wearing too well. A year and a half more of Hillary as Oprah is not something to look forward to. The flat voice, the canned lines, the “Bill and I” lines are already grating on her listeners. So far, the ‘charm’ hasn’t worked.
They thought that the voters wouldn’t pick up on her flip flops and canned lines.
They were wrong about that. She’s been castigated by the left at every campaign stop and the term ‘scripted’ is probably the single most frequently used description of her.
They thought that they could still treat the emotional and angry rantings of Bill Clinton as if they were the emotional and angry rantings of a sitting President of the United States. So when he said: “Attack”, they aimed.
They thought that Bill Clinton was her ace in the hole – the world’s best political consultant, her private guru, who would guide her to an easy and early victory.
But that certainly hasn’t been true. His clouded judgment and obsession with rewriting his own legacy gets in the way of objective advice.
So, the woman with most brilliant political team in the country has been repeatedly outmaneuvered and outsmarted. She’s on the defensive and going downhill.
Her attack dog Wolfson has been put on the bench. Bill Clinton has been relegated to private fund raisers. And Hillary is tanking in the polls.
Look for the ‘team’ to start pointing fingers.