Hillary Clinton has been in the national spotlight since 1992, longer than any of her opponents for the Oval Office. This extended time in the limelight has worked both to Mrs. Clinton’s benefit and to her demise. She garnered a sliver of policy experience when her husband made her the Chairwoman of the National Task Force on Health Care Reform. Her proposals went nowhere but the experience thrust her into the national spotlight and opened her up to her first policy criticisms.
Unlike the Republican Party which has one person leading in the first primary states and one person leading in the general election, the Democrats have one person in the lead for both: Hillary. Hillary has a sizable lead in New Hampshire and is a frontrunner in the Iowa Caucus. The biggest benefit that comes with a huge lead in New Hampshire is that she can afford to pull a bit of money from her New Hampshire bid and put it towards Iowa. Barack Obama is polling 2nd in the national polls but has struggled in the first two primary states and John Edwards has done the opposite.
What Will It Take For Clinton To Win?
First (and in no particular order), Mrs. Clinton will have to play Mr. Clinton very well. Mr. Clinton has the potential to serve as a lightning rod of criticism because he is in the public eye more than any of the other candiate’s spouses (see: Sopranos controversy). Not only is he in the spotlight now, but his past actions in office have given Mrs. Clinton 8 years worth of policy decisions to justify (see: an interesting take on Clinton’s midnight pardoning.) A lot of people have commented on his past extra-marital affairs and that has taken a lot of the policy message that Mrs. Cnton was trying to push. The more she lets the media talk about her marital status, the more her administration is going to sound like a 4-year long episode of General Hospital.
Second, Senator Clinton needs to appear moderate to conservatives and liberal to liberals. Conservatives think that she wants to make abortions mandatory and liberals (legitimately) contend that she is either too conservative or too willing to sacrifice her true liberal persuasions if she has them. Recent attention to her personal faith has helped her to this end.
Third, Hillary needs to shed her image of being a rigid politician. She’s taken a few steps in the right direction with her Sopranos video. If she can develop the same cult of personality that Barack Obama has, she is going to build some serious grassroots firepower.
Forth, Hillary needs to act like a frontrunner. In my opinion, she did this excellently during the latest democratic debate. She spoke a lot, but not too much, and she kept a low profile by saying what people wanted to hear and not a word more. If she can cruise to some early wins, she’ll have the momentum it takes to do whatever she wants.
James and I think that Hillary has about a 60% chance of getting the nomination of Al Gore stays out of the mix (as he is increasingly likely to do.) If Gore does throw his hat into the ring, Hillary has a 50% chance of becoming the democratic nominee.