Gary Pearce: Another look at Hillary

Published 8:59 pm Monday, July 25, 2016

Gary Pearce, from the blog, Talking About Politics:

Hillary Clinton has the greatest gift in politics: a flawed, unpopular opponent. Still, she should use the Democratic convention to fix four big problems.

First, she’s a status quo candidate in a change year. She and Bill have been on the stage for 25 years. And she is something of a third Obama term.

The easiest solution is what George H.W. Bush did in 1998: make your opponent unelectable. That’ll work. Also, Clinton needs a gentle pivot from Obama. EG – Bush promised to be kinder and gentler than Reagan.

Second, she’s not a comfortable TV performer, and elections usually are won by the most comfortable TV performer. Hillary is the dutiful straight-A student to Bill’s BMOC and Obama’s cool cat. Her ads can fix this, in part. But she can help herself immensely if her acceptance speech communicates the warmth and sincerity people say she projects in person.

Third, she needs Bernie Sanders’ voters. Her campaign completely missed the fed-up-ness that Sanders captured. That’s ironic, because the Clintons came into politics in the ‘70s as the new generation challenging the old order. Now they are the old order.

Fourth, there’s the trust factor (see: email server). She can’t pull a Jimmy Carter (“I’ll never lie to you.”) She has to redefine trust as who do you trust in a crisis.

You might think it’s hard for a political animal like Clinton to change spots now. But conventions give that opening.

It’s like buying a car. Before you decide to buy a car, you don’t pay much attention to cars. When you’re ready to buy, you start looking hard at cars.

The American people are buying a new car for the next four years. And they’re looking hard at what’s on the lot.

Pearce, a Democratic strategist, is the author of “Jim Hunt: A Biography.”