Thursday, January 04, 2007

"Hillary’s Fallback Plan: Do What Gore Did"

I am assuming the author does not mean to suggest that Hillary try to sue her way into the White House while getting ambulance chasers to disenfranchise Florida's military voters overseas. Upon reading the article, I see that my assumption was correct. From the NY Observer:
As she figures out how to cope with the shifting field in the 2008 Presidential contest, Hillary Clinton might do well to familiarize herself with Al Gore’s primary playbook from 2000.

The predicament she now faces—brought on by the twin revelations that Barack Obama is actually serious about running and that John Edwards is actually popular—is startlingly similar to the one Mr. Gore overcame to win his party’s nomination.

Mrs. Clinton, like Mr. Gore before her, owned the formative months leading up to the primary campaigning season as the singular, Mondale-esque favorite for her party’s nomination, a status owed to the perception of her overpowering inevitability. But as it did for Mr. Gore, that inevitability is giving way to unforeseen political peril.

She’s hardly an underdog, but the signs sure are ominous: a fourth-place finish in an Iowa poll two weeks ago, a feeble 22 percent showing in a New Hampshire survey, and a lack of the freshness and excitement surrounding the initial maneuverings of Mr. Obama and, to some extent, Mr. Edwards.
Mr. Gore—like Hillary, a practitioner of a public style that smacks of caution and condescension—soon found himself in a surprising dogfight. By the spring of 1999, Mr. Bradley had caught him in the polls in New Hampshire, and soon the onetime Knicks small forward was ahead in national polls, too. Amazingly, Mr. Bradley even out-raised Mr. Gore over the summer months, and as Iowa and New Hampshire neared, he actually looked like a front-runner.

And yet Mr. Gore ended up sweeping every single contested primary and caucus in 2000, a historic running of the table that might now offer clues to Mrs. Clinton on how to separate herself from Messrs. Obama and Edwards.
But the main explanation for Mr. Gore’s comeback is simply that he took the gloves off, dusting off his notorious attack-dog act and shamelessly slandering Mr. Bradley with conventional (and yet maddeningly effective) scare tactics, warning that his opponent’s programs would, essentially, kill old people. It helped, too, that Mr. Bradley showed all the eagerness to fight back of Michael Dukakis. (At least Bradley didn't get in a tank and look dorky with that helmet on! - Ed.)

Whether Mrs. Clinton would replicate such an unglamorous strategy is another matter. For one thing, criticism might not stick to Messrs. Obama and Edwards as easily as it did to Mr. Bradley. What’s more, the first viable female Presidential candidate is likely to squander whatever sympathy that status may afford her if she starts a mud fight with the boys.

For now, a safer path for Mrs. Clinton is to hope that her rivals fade on their own, or even better, that they turn their guns on each other and do her dirty work for her. The question, with little more than a year until Iowa, is how long she’s prepared to wait.
If you folks are like me, you put little stock in a 2006 and 2007 poll for a 2008 election. Overall, though, the article raises great points.