Maybe the third time Hillary Clinton runs for president, she’ll get it exactly right. That Goldilocks campaign – in 2020? -- will be large and distinguished enough to accommodate a woman who has been prominent on the national stage for decades, but small enough to convince average Americans that Hillary is their best bud. It’s a challenge, but Hillary is nothing if not renewable. Sustainability is another matter.
Hillary is out touring Iowa in her minivan Scooby, holding scripted meetings with tiny groups (it is, after all, a thinly-populated state) that can apparently be trusted not to ask tough questions or in any way upset her applecart. The photo-ops are genuinely ridiculous, but that’s the only thing genuine about this adventure.
Everything Hillary smacks of focus-groups, but this initial phase of her campaign is truly out of focus. No one in their right mind thinks that Hillary is more comfortable traveling 1,000 miles in a mini-van Secret Service convoy than in the back seat of a limo, or on Air Force One for heaven’s sake. If Hillary’s advisers think that Iowans are that simple-minded, shame on them.
Here’s the bigger problem: everywhere Hillary Clinton goes, now that her campaign is launched, an entire gaggle of reporters tags along. These folks are there for a story. Hillary is giving them nothing- no policy pronouncements, no big speeches, no off-the-cuff responses to shouted inquiries about pesky emails or foreign donations.
As a result, the press corps is sending along whatever news scraps they can pluck from the road trip, including:
From Breitbart: Scooby-Doo was seen parked in a handicapped parking spot. Tag line: Hillary doesn’t follow the rules!
From VFNews, a video of dozens of reporters chasing Scooby on foot, under the heading, “Aren’t You Glad You’re Not Covering Hillary’s Van Tour?”
From Bloomberg, this headliner: “Hillary left no tip in the Chipotle jar.” Imagine! What a cheapskate. First she orders a Burrito Bowl incognito (what ever happened to wanting to mingle with average Americans?), robbing the beanery owner of his moment of fame. And then, despite her push for a higher minimum wage, she doesn’t tip the staff! Mean Hillary!
From the New York Post: “She delivered another whopper when she told a small group of Iowans that all her grandparents were immigrants.” NOT SO, according to Buzzfeed, which points out that only one of her forbears actually immigrated to this country. The other three were born here. The fib doesn’t quite measure up to the one about coming under enemy fire in Kosovo, or the one about using only one email device because it was more convenient, but still…. Why lie about your grandparents?
Townhall offers up this: Communication director Jennifer Palmieri’s description of how the former first lady was delighted to spontaneously come up with the name “Scooby-Doo” is bosh. The same name was applied to the 2000 campaign vehicle. Either the campaign team does not understand how the Internet works to uncover such fibs today, or Clinton has short-term memory loss, which is a much bigger concern, and MUCH bigger story.
People filed this nugget: “She's a healthy snacker. Road munchies packed for the drive include almonds and cottage cheese.” Burritos and guacamole?
The Wall Street Journal notes that Mrs. Clinton has not backed many policy initiatives on her tour, except to say “she would favor a constitutional amendment, if necessary, to overhaul a campaign-finance system that has injected what she calls “unaccountable” money into politics.” Since at the moment the candidate topping the fundraising leaderboard is Mrs. Clinton, whom the New York Times projects will rake in $2.5 billion, maybe she misspoke. What she perhaps meant to say, was uncountable money.
Republicans critiquing this comedy should not get too cocky. A recent Rasmussen poll, taken in the wake of the email scandal, showed that 57% of Americans likely to vote think Hillary will be our next president. That kind of certainty can become self-fulfilling, causing people to withhold donations and stay home on voting day. Republicans have to work much harder than they may think to turn this around. They will need a powerful message about how to grow the economy so that wages and employment rise; they will need to tell voters why they can be trusted to deliver for the average Joe. Unlike Hillary, they will need to Go Big. Let’s hope they do.