Late last week the Washington Post reported on the particulars of Sec. Hillary Clinton’s $300,000 speech to UCLA. The bottled water and hot tea aside, the rundown provided some things to consider about how Hillaryville 2016 will operate.
1. She’s been ‘in the bubble’ now for more than 20 years. Clinton hasn’t gone anywhere without a motorcade since sometime in 1992. The Clintons have legions of staff, advance people and other hangers on who are dedicated to ensuring her every whim and need wherever she is and whatever she’s doing. 2016 will strip away a fair amount of this security blanket.
2. In the context of a presidential campaign, those things can get expensive, and make you seem arrogant. The town hall meeting in Ottumwa, Iowa will not be paying for the privilege of having Mrs. Clinton speak to them. But the presidential-level accouterments will still be a requirement. The phalanx of Secret Service agents will create another physical barrier between candidate and crowd. Makes it hard to seem relatable.
3. Hillary’s schedule, movements and activities are controlled by a small core of people. However, as a new effort ramps up, that circle will have to expand. Her original political team is gone (or won’t likely play a day-to-day role anyway) and eight years ago they were found wanting. The jockeying to replace them is now taking place in the media – never a good place to start.
4. This time, she will have to rely on staffers and advisors who are not life-long Clintonistas. This will require a leap of faith on Hillary’s (and Bill’s) part. There will be a constant tension between Trust and Control. The more she trusts her staff, the more control she must cede. If that trust wanes (or worse for her) never flowers, she will attempt to maintain control and the campaign’s operations will suffer.
5. She will raise a great deal of money. But they should not believe that the ability to hire every operative and consultant and build an enormous staff equals victory. As I’ve noted previously, I’ve been part of a Potemkin battleship – more people, more spending and more stuff doesn’t equal a better campaign.
6. Being “in it to win it” won’t serve as enough of a unified field theory for Hillary 2016. What is her rationale for the presidency? Is it the ‘it’s my turn’ argument? Not particularly compelling. She’s not the darling of the left. She’s not the voice of a new generation. She won’t put the country on a radically different footing. She’ll run away from President Obama, but served in his administration for four years. That leaves senior stateswoman, the calm in the midst of a storm. For both younger and older voters, perhaps comforting, but not exciting.
7. To that end, at $300,000 a speech (and remember that’s the discount rate for educational institutions) how does she credibly relate to an American populace who still daily bears the weight of economic uncertainty?
8. Although she is the clear frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, there will be other candidates vying for the prize, and they won’t have much to lose by taking some bark off the Hillary Clinton machine as they go. How will she handle their incoming fire? Will she be able to stay above the fray?
9. Unlike the nice people at a Goldman Sachs forum, Hillary will get questions from regular voters in Iowa and New Hampshire about things she will not want to discuss. Will she be able to step down off the pedestal of being American royalty for 20 years to mix with the hoi polloi?
10. Lastly, does Hillary have the discipline to run for president for 18 months? If her whirlwind, over-exposing, and gaffe-prone book tour is any indication, she hasn’t yet mastered keeping stray thoughts to herself. Day in, day out, she will have to sit for countless interviews she’ll likely see as beneath her. Can she show the discipline necessary to answer the tough questions well and smile through the stupid ones?
11. *Oh yeah, don’t forget Bill!