Hillary Clinton’s "Hard Choices" book tour was supposed to lay the foundation for her 2016 presidential run. Instead, it has exposed a fatal flaw in Clinton’s presumed path to the Democrat nomination: She has a Mitt Romney problem.
In 2012, President Obama successfully demonized Mitt Romney as out of touch with mainstream America. Obama pointed to the fact that Romney had a four-car garage with an elevator and worked for Bain Capital.
Romney didn’t help himself either. His “47 percent” comment, although taken out of context, only further hurt the former Massachusetts governor. As a Mitt Romney supporter, that isn’t easy to admit.
In the end, Obama’s attacks worked. According to the Boston Globe, “voters preferred Romney’s visions, values, and leadership.” Yet, “‘Obama beat Romney by an astonishing 81 to 18 percent margin on the question of which candidate ‘cares about people like me.’” According to a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, Hillary Clinton faces a similar scenario.
Fifty-five percent of voters think Hillary is “knowledgeable and experienced enough to handle the presidency.” However, like Mitt Romney, Americans aren’t convinced they can trust her. More voters have doubts about her trustworthiness than those who believe she is “honest and straightforward.”
Since becoming the first lady of Arkansas in 1979 and then the first lady of the United States in 1993, Hillary Clinton has lived in a rarefied world that most Americans will never understand. And while her resume is impressive, serving as New York’s first female U.S. Senator and former Secretary of State, it is her disconnect with voters that is her biggest problem.
Hillary, who was born and raised in a tony Chicago suburb and boasts a Seven Sisters education, has painted herself as an out of touch elitist throughout her political career. Unlike her husband who was the master at convincing voters he understood their struggles, Hillary has an inability to connect with people and a propensity to offend.
At a time when Americans list the economy as their number one concern, Hillary has repeatedly demonstrated her disconnect with the average family’s financial struggles. In just a few short weeks since her book tour began, she has provided her political opponents with plenty of fodder to use against her. When asked about her $200,000 speaking fees, Hillary told ABC’s Diane Sawyer that she and Bill “came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt.” Hillary and Bill had purchased two homes for $5 million and signed an $8 million book deal around that time.
And despite amassing an over $100 million fortune, Hillary Clinton recently told the Guardian that she and Bill are unlike the “truly well off.”
When the average American income is $51,017, her comments show how dangerously out of touch she is with the majority of voters.
In January, Hillary told a crowd at the National Automobile Dealers Association in New Orleans that she hadn’t driven a car for 18 years. Private jets and drivers hardly are in keeping with her “I’m an every woman” rhetoric.
In an era where public opinion matters the most in politics, a Hillary Clinton nomination for president would be truly problematic for Democrats. It would deliver a serious blow to the Democrats’ populist platform, undermining arguments on income inequality. And for a seasoned politician to make as many gaffes as Hillary has made in just a few short weeks, Democrats would likely be put on defense throughout the campaign.
While many Americans already assume it’s a forgone conclusion that Hillary Clinton will be the party's nominee and our next president, we have learned from past elections that a connection with voters is key.
Hillary is no Bill Clinton. In fact, she could end up being the Democrats’ Mitt Romney.
Lisa Boothe is a Republican political consultant with both Capitol Hill and campaign experience. She is now a Senior Director at the Black Rock Group providing communications consulting for Fortune 500 companies as well as political campaigns.