How bad was Hillary’s campaign rollout? So bad that even the Politico’s Glenn Thrush is forced to write this as his lede today:
When I asked one top staffer on Hillary Clinton’s campaign to pick the high point of her overwhelmingly understated 2016 campaign kickoff in Iowa, the person paused for a moment, then shot back – “The Aaron Hernandez verdict!”
The former New England Patriot’s conviction on murder charges punted Clinton’s two-day pastoral tour of the critical caucus state off of cable news, a blessing to a campaign that craved the softest of soft launches. Wednesday’s legal drama, coupled with the Monday media blitz by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio — who wanted to soak up the spotlight Clinton preferred to avoid — were welcome diversions for a team premiering not just a candidate but an updated approach to the oldest Clinton problem of all: dealing with people like me.
Democrat lackeys armed with steno pads who describe Hillary’s illegal email server as “badass?” That’s setting the bar rather low. Thrush is perhaps the ultimate example of what Glenn Reynolds would call a Democrat operative with a byline. In November of 2013, he feigned boredom during the disastrous rollout of Obamacare, and last year pretended, “I don’t get the furor over the [Wendy] Davis ad,” in which the would-be governor of Texas, flailing badly in the polls, mocked her opponent’s wheelchair. He admitted in his article today, “full disclosure: I attended both of the pre-launch off-the-record sessions Clinton’s team held with reporters.”
Which may be why Thrush eventually reverts to vintage form:
One week in, the campaign’s day-to-day discipline mirrors Palmieri’s personal style. In 2008, there was a wholesale ban on “process” stories –- the behind-the-scenes anecdote-crammed tales that are the lifeblood of political reporting in POLITICO and elsewhere – but Palmieri has instructed her staff to cooperate whenever practical. Her goal isn’t necessarily to reveal the inner workings of the campaign but to “demystify” them a bit, according to an aide, so that reporters don’t interpret every move Clinton makes as part of some vast behind-closed-doors conspiracy.
There’s also a conscious attempt to humanize Clinton’s staff to counter perceptions, promoted in the conservative and mainstream media, that she surrounds herself with sharp-elbowed political mercenaries enlisted in a dark quest for power. “She is surrounding herself with scrappy, battle-tested operatives and advisers who work hard and run campaigns like they’re 10 points behind, even if they aren’t,” read one of the campaign-generated memos issued to Clinton’s media surrogates, sent to me by a senior Democrat.
I love that line about countering perceptions “in the conservative and mainstream media” — instead of writing “near-universal perception” regarding Hillary’s paranoid staffers or something similar. Who doesn’t believe that — the far left, the folks who view MSNBC and the New York Times as being too conservative, the sort of folks who in past days would go on Nation magazine Soviet Union river cruises, aren’t exactly enamored of Hillary either.
More from Thrush:
Reporters weren’t told about her van trek until it had already started, and when the press pack arrived Clinton waved off tough questions about her recent conversion to the cause of gay marriage. Then her campaign released a carefully edited video of a voter thanking her for backing same-sex marriage at a Council Bluffs roundtable that had been closed to the media.
When NBC’s Andrea Mitchell confronted Palmieri about the candidate’s unwillingness to answer reporters’ questions about gay marriage in Iowa, the communications director gave little ground — telling Mitchell pointedly Clinton had “answered that question the day before” — prompting some reporters to remark how little things had changed since the last campaign.
Veteran public speaker Cavett Robert, the founder of the National Speaker’s Association, once advised clients in his profession, “Don’t be in too much of a hurry to promote, until you get good. Otherwise you just speed up the rate at which the world finds out you’re no good.”
But at age 67, with a lifetime at the center of Democrat power politics, six years to analyze what went wrong in 2007 and 2008, and knowing she has grudging, if near universal support from the palace guard MSM, shouldn’t Hillary — and her campaign — be good at this stuff?