When he first ran for president, Barack Obama’s themes were “hope” and “change.” Hillary Clinton, appearing at a conference last week, trumpeted what she called “evidence-based optimism.”
With this approach, Hillary is bringing to policy debates ahead of the 2016 presidential contest. That isn’t a phrase that lends itself to a campaign slogan, but these days it captures the unsentimental approach, reports The Wall Street Journal.
Hillary is playing down her personal story and instead keeping issues front and center. Her message is that she would bring to American politics a competence and analytical rigor, the report said.
In the report, The Wall Street Journal said Hillary’s office declined to comment for this article. But to the degree she is revealing much of anything about her private life, it is to gush over her growing family. Her daughter, Chelsea, gave birth Friday to Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky, making Hillary a first-time grandmother at 66 years old.
In a Saturday tweet—accompanied by a picture of her cradling the baby—Hillary wrote that she and her husband were “over the moon to be grandparents!” She also has begun emphasizing her roots in the Midwest, a region that can be a political bellwether, The Wall Street Journal report said.
But while some potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates are showcasing their personalities as a reason to like and trust them, Hillary for the most part is making clear she would rather talk about something else.
If the material is distinctly dry and unsexy, Hillary doesn’t seem to mind. Obama defeated her in the 2008 Democratic primary in part because voters found his message and life story inspiring. But Hillary doesn’t seem to be betting that charisma will decide things in 2016.
She is bemoaning what she calls the “evidence-free zone” in American politics while celebrating “data” as the indispensable tool in choosing the best options.
“Data, data, data,” she said at a Clinton Global Initiative panel discussion—another phrase not likely to find its way onto a bumper sticker.
She talked about brain “hardware” and “neural connections” during one panel about childhood development and mused about new ways to measure gross domestic product during another appearance. “We obsess over metrics, get excited about data,” Hillary said in a closing speech at the conference.
Her focus insulates her to some degree from Republican attacks in the run-up to her announcement on whether she’ll run again. It is hard to muster an attack based on a call for better data in American policy-making.
What’s more, when she has ventured into details about her personal life, she has gotten into trouble. Some of her former advisers cringed earlier this year when the former first lady, senator and secretary of state said she hadn’t driven a car since 1996—a result of her being under constant Secret Service protection.
And she garnered little sympathy when she told a TV interviewer in June that she and her husband were “dead broke” when they left the White House in 2001.
“Once she leaves the policy space and moves into personality, she just opens herself up to a broad range of attacks,” said Tad Devine, who worked for the presidential campaigns of Democrats Al Gore and John Kerry, among others. “It is much harder for opponents to deal with you as long as you occupy the policy space.
“Her comfort zone is talking more about policies and ideas than it is talking about herself and who she is,” said Peter Peyser, a longtime Democratic lobbyist.
If she runs for president, Hillary eventually will need to present herself as more than a vessel for certain policy ideas, analysts say. Voters want to feel a connection to presidential candidates, and Hillary would need to give them one. “She can be wonkette for some time, but running for president requires more than being a propeller head,” said Bill Whalen, who worked for former Republican President George H.W. Bush’s campaign in 1992. “You also have to propel a personality.”
On the Republican side, prospective candidates are doing just that. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is emphasizing his bluntness and candor. Another potential GOP candidate, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, is underscoring his independent streak—a willingness to part ways with fellow Republicans who are quicker to call for U.S. military intervention.
In recent weeks, Hillary has dropped hints about the pieces of her personal life she is likely to showcase on the campaign trail. Family is emerging as major theme. In addition to talking about her new grandchild, she has been sharing stories about the hardships her late mother endured as a child.
Expect Hillary to invoke such biographical bits in pressing for policies that help shore up American families, one member of her circle said.
“One of the themes you’re going to see a lot of is these issues around family,” this person said. “She can talk about that, and in a way, she’s living that.”
Source: The Daily Star