Hillary Clinton hasn’t even announced her 2016 run yet but she is already staffed up with huge Democratic talent, some of which is coming to her straight from the Obama White House. Planning to delay campaigning until late summer, the former Secretary of State, Senator, and First Lady has already amassed a Dream Team, pulling from Obama’s team to round out her already solid support.
Anne Gearan and Dan Balz at the Washington Post reported that even though she hasn’t even announced yet, Clinton’s campaign is looking like an incumbent’s reelection campaign:
At this point, without so much as an announcement, she has settled on — at the least — a campaign chairman, a campaign manager, a chief strategist and lead pollster, another pollster, a lead media adviser, a communication director, a deputy communications director, a focus group director and a communications strategist.
Her effort at this stage looks a lot like an incumbent’s reelection campaign: She will be running largely in support of a sitting president and his agenda, and is busy hiring many of President Obama’s former aides.
Jim Messina, who helped engineer Clinton’s downfall in 2008 as a senior aide to Obama’s campaign, now runs a super PAC devoted to supporting her in 2016. “It’s her turn and her time,” he said on MSNBC this week. “We’re going to do whatever it takes to make sure she’s the president of the United States.”
While pundits and strategists focus on fears that Clinton could lose her edge by delaying hitting the trail and worry over appearances of inheriting a mantle from President Obama, there is another side to this coin.
What we have here is a strong would-be candidate, who consistently polls as a favorite politician, who is well known to the American people, whose last name is associated with economic boom times, and who is also carrying her own unique mantle of potentially being the first female President.
That’s a pretty heady mix of positives with a dose of freshness, and it’s coming on the wave of a Republican war on women that is only getting more obvious as even their own female representatives balk at their attempts to deny women liberty.
Clinton is filling in the gaps where her 2008 campaign was stressed. She is utilizing the very talent that brought her down.
It’s also further evidence of the imagined deal back when President Obama asked her to be his Secretary of State, a job which undeniably beefs up foreign policy cred – a continued weakness on the Republican side.
The biggest challenge for Clinton is going to be not falling into the trap of Democrats of 2014; that is, not alienating the Obama supporters in necessary efforts to distinguish herself from the President. To this end, I hope she doesn’t go with the “more confident” foreign policy line tossed out in the Washington Post article. “Bolder” might work. But “more confident” feeds right into the Republican criticism that gets up the backs of Obama Democrats. (See Wendy Davis for how to do this the right way.)
Because of the heir apparent appearance of much of her would be candidacy, Clinton will be attacked for being like royalty, for being lazy, for not earning it, and other Rovian digs that attack her strengths. But these attacks will be hard to make stick, given her long career full of earnest hard work for causes she has steadily believed in. Also, the first female president didn’t earn it? LOL. Say it again, Republicans, because that’s almost as much of a winner as the latest GOP mantra that rape is an opportunity.
The thing is, Hillary Clinton didn’t sit back and lick her wounds after 2008. She swallowed her pride and took a tough job working for her opponent after a bitter campaign. And now she is demonstrating again that she is hungry and sharp by hiring the exact people she needs to run the best campaign she can. This means she accurately assessed her last campaign, instead of deluding herself with Romney-esque feelings of entitlement.
Who does that?
A winner, that’s who.
No, that’s not a prediction; it’s just a fact that people who are willing to honestly assess their own weaknesses and work hard to overcome them are more apt to be successful than those whose egos are too weak to handle criticism and self reflection.
It’s also true that people whose egos can not only handle losing but turn it into an opportunity make stronger, better leaders. This is the kind of person who should scare opponents. It’s not the heir-apparentness — it’s her steel spine, loyalty, gritty determination and steady vision for the under privileged that make Clinton so dangerous to Republicans.