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Old 02-22-2008, 07:30 AM  
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How Hillary blew it.

By Steven Thomma | McClatchy Newspapers

Posted on Thursday, February 21, 2008

WASHINGTON — She had everything going for her. The most famous name in politics. A solid lead in the polls. A war chest of at least $133 million.

Yet Hillary Clinton now finds herself struggling for political survival, her once-firm grasp of the Democratic presidential nomination seemingly slipping away.

What happened?

Barack Obama, for one thing, a uniquely gifted speaker with a face that appeals deeply to the Democratic Party. He also had a better-organized campaign.

But Democrats say that Clinton, whose central theme is her readiness to be president, also made blunder after blunder. She chose an inexperienced campaign manager, crafted a message that didn't match the moment, fielded poor organizations in key states and built a budget that ran dry just when she needed money most.

"She got outmaneuvered," said Mark Mellman, a Democratic strategist who isn't aligned with any of this year's candidates. "Her campaign allowed her to be outmaneuvered on several fronts."

"To think that someone named Clinton with $130 million could end up here is amazing," another neutral Democratic strategist said. He spoke only on the condition of anonymity to permit more candor, as did many party insiders quoted here who dare not offend the still-powerful Clintons.

Clinton isn't out of it yet. Aides this week dismissed talk of mismanagement and mistakes and said that she can fight back in Ohio and Texas on March 4 and in Pennsylvania on April 22, and win the nomination at the Democratic National Convention in August.

"People have made the mistake of writing off Senator Clinton before," campaign spokesman Phil Singer said.

Yet it's undeniable that the New York senator has fallen awfully far awfully fast.

One factor is Obama, an Illinois senator.

"You've got to give credit to Barack Obama. He is a once-in-a-generation politician," Mellman said.

His soaring rhetoric and uplifting message of a more civil, less divisive politics as the key to such goals as better health care has inspired Democrats since he seized the spotlight at the party's national convention in Boston in 2004.

Also, his race strikes a chord in Democrats who hunger for the chance to nominate and elect the first African-American president, arguably a stronger ideal for some than electing the first woman.

Yet Democratic strategists and insiders think that Clinton could have bested Obama so far had she run a better campaign.

Some key points:

MESSAGE

Clinton ran most of last year on her experience, at one point surrounding herself with party icons from the past, such as former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

It was a strategy designed for wartime, presenting her as a tough, experienced leader in the mold of Margaret Thatcher, someone who could be trusted to keep the country safe.

But that made her look rooted in the past, even part of the status quo, as Obama cast himself as the voice of a new generation. Young people surged to his rallies, and helped give him his first big win, in Iowa.

"Everybody has known for a year at least that if you trade experience for change, people want change over experience 2-1. Why they put themselves on the short end of that, I don't know," said one Democrat who worked on John Kerry's 2004 campaign. "It was a bad choice."

Though she later answered Obama's rise in the polls by changing her message to say she had the experience to deliver change, this Democrat called it "too little too late."

Said a Democrat who worked on Al Gore's 2000 campaign: "A message based on experience was not going to work in that environment. It was doomed to fail."

IOWA AND THE CAUCUS STATES

Starting with Iowa, Clinton was out-hustled and out-organized in almost every state that had caucuses rather than primaries.

Her aides and surrogates criticized caucuses as unrepresentative because it's harder for voters to attend the town hall-like meetings than it is to vote in primaries. As Obama rolled up win after win, they tried to dismiss caucus results as less important than primaries.

"They seemed to give up on organization," one Democratic strategist said. "To lose every caucus but Nevada is to say we do not care about organization.

"Should he have won Idaho? Is that his demographic? No. Should he have won Maine? No. Places like Idaho and Maine were much more Clinton's demographic. But she had neither the organizational strength nor the strategy to lock down these places."

Clinton strategist Harold Ickes denied that the campaign ceded the caucus states to Obama. Instead, it chose to allocate limited resources to different places.

"Every campaign has the allocation-of-resources issue," he said. "And in the context of the resources that we had, the delegates at stake . . . we allocated our resources as we did. You know, we certainly did not cede anything, but . . . those were the factors that were at play in those decisions."

SOUTH CAROLINA

Clinton's one burst of momentum — after wins in New Hampshire and Nevada — ended in South Carolina.

"It was a terrible campaign," said a senior South Carolina Democrat who supported Clinton.

"There was never any concept of how South Carolina should be addressed in terms of identifying voters and getting them out. The skill set of people in the Clinton campaign was pretty low, and there was no central guidance or direction. They had plenty of resources; money wasn't a problem. They just didn't execute."

Worse, Bill and Hillary Clinton hit Obama heading into the South Carolina primary in terms that struck many African-Americans as racially charged.

On the day of the primary, for example, Bill Clinton appeared to dismiss Obama's victory in a state with a large black population by noting that Jesse Jackson had won there, too. That was true. But Clinton had to skip over the 20 years of white winners in South Carolina to settle on Jackson. It was as if he were saying, "a black winner here doesn't matter, because only blacks voted for him."

Well into the campaign in Virginia weeks later, elder statesmen such as Doug Wilder, the nation's first elected black governor, were still smarting over the Clinton tactics. Clinton went on to lose Virginia in a 64-35 percent landslide.

"They blew up in South Carolina," said a white Democrat who worked in the Clinton White House. "It changed everybody's perceptions of them."

POST-SUPER TUESDAY

Short of cash as the race turned toward the Super Tuesday voting Feb. 5, Clinton lent her campaign $5 million. Even as some wins Feb. 5 helped her raise $15 million, she lost ground to Obama and appeared to lack a clear strategy for how to compete after that.

She seemed to write off Virginia, for example, and didn't even comment on her loss that night, Feb. 12, by almost 30 points.

In Wisconsin, which voted Tuesday, she was outspent 4-1 and pulled out a day early to head to the next contests, in Ohio and Texas. She lost Wisconsin by 17 points.

Even looking ahead to Pennsylvania, which she considers a must-win for her comeback, Clinton aides failed to file a full slate of delegates for that April 22 primary. While they can file them later, the oversight was hardly the sign of a well-oiled machine.

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Many of Clinton's TV ads featured her talking about the issues, standard fare.

But the ads struck one Democratic consultant as a mistake, since Obama's ads also feature excerpts from his speeches. Airing the similar ads invites a comparison of the two candidates' speaking styles at the very time she's been trying to downplay her disadvantage.

"They suck," the consultant said. "The truth is he's a better speaker. He has a better speech. They don't want a side-by-side comparison, but they're making it."

MANAGEMENT

Clinton recently replaced her campaign manager, Patti Solis Doyle, with Maggie Williams, who served as her chief of staff when she was first lady.

Doyle got mixed reviews.

"It does seem odd to have someone at the top of the organization who has no campaign experience," one strategist said. "Bill Clinton had people who had run campaigns. Patti and Maggie were there by virtue of their personal loyalty, not their campaign experience."

But another Democrat said Doyle was singled out unfairly for blame, as often happens in Washington when a politician stumbles.

"Every decision that was made — whether it was spending or the message or what states to invest in — was a collaborative process," the other strategist said. "It's unfair to Patti to blame her. It was a ministerial position."
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Old 02-22-2008, 07:48 AM   #2
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Patti and Maggie were there by virtue of their personal loyalty, not their campaign experience."
Sounds to me like she operates like Bush. I don't know if this is the best way because it seems like it's away to avoid hearing what you need to hear, even if you don't like it. Because loyalty comes first.
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Old 02-22-2008, 07:53 AM   #3
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NYT: Hillary Donors Upset With Campaign's Management
By Eric Kleefeld - February 22, 2008, 8:59AM

With Hillary Clinton's campaign going downhill, a lot of big donors are now expressing their discontent with the way the finances have been handled, from the high-paid political consultants to the ostentatious spending on luxury hotels.

Former campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle came under particular scrutiny for some of the big spending, not only in the presidential race but in Hillary's easy 2006 re-election, which managed to spend $30 million without having a major opponent. "The Senate race spending in 2006 was an omen for a lot of us inside the campaign," said one anonymous fundraiser, "but Hillary assured us that her presidential bid would be the best run in history."
http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archi...21/687849.aspx
FUNDRAISING: MORE MONEY DETAILS
Posted: Thursday, February 21, 2008 9:23 AM by Domenico Montanaro
Filed Under: 2008

We are learning more details of the candidates' January fundraising and spending. Clinton ended with debt of more than $7 million; Obama raised $36 million compared to Clintons' $13.6 million. The Clinton debt does NOT include the $5 million personal loan. "But even that money is illusionary when measured against the reported $7.6 million in debts.

More than $2 million of the red ink is owed to chief consultant and adviser, Mark Penn. But the lengthy laundry list of IOUs also includes unpaid bills ranging from insurance coverage, phone banking, printing and catering at events in Iowa, New Hampshire and California."

Giuliani ended his shortened senate race in the '00 cycle with extra money and apparently he ended his shortened presidential campaign with extra money, some $9 million.

“Romney put in at least $42.3 million of his own money, a big chunk of the $97 million he spent on the campaign.” More: “The former Massachusetts governor's total self-financing puts him ahead of Steve Forbes, the publisher who spent $38 million on his unsuccessful run for the GOP nomination in 1996, but shy of the $63.5 million that H. Ross Perot spent on his 1992 third-party presidential campaign. Romney's total loan also equates to about $167,000 for each of the 253 delegates he won before suspending his campaign.”

“Romney also reported raising $9.7 million last month, bringing his campaign total to $63.6 million. That total is appreciably more than that raised by John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee whom Romney endorsed last week. McCain received contributions totaling about $49 million and borrowed nearly $4 million more by the end of last month. During January, McCain raised $11.7 million and borrowed $950,000.”
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Old 02-22-2008, 07:55 AM   #4
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Sounds to me like she operates like Bush. I don't know if this is the best way because it seems like it's away to avoid hearing what you need to hear, even if you don't like it. Because loyalty comes first.
At least Bush was smart enough to pick Rove who was experienced and loyal.
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Old 02-22-2008, 07:59 AM   #5
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MESSAGE"Everybody has known for a year at least that if you trade experience for change, people want change over experience 2-1. Why they put themselves on the short end of that, I don't know," said one Democrat who worked on John Kerry's 2004 campaign. "It was a bad choice."
Interesting info.

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Many of Clinton's TV ads featured her talking about the issues, standard fare.
As they say in advertising, it can't make a bad product successful. It's her more than anything. She's part of that message. I think some issues can be part of advertising but not if not done emotionally enough with the exact right emotion that matches current public sentiment....along with the right positioning.(images) ( which wouldn't be her) She should have piloted some of her ads at least.

I do think the emotion right now is one of feeling fed-up, angry and exasperated. I think Paul's ads failed to capitalize on this too.
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Old 02-22-2008, 08:12 AM   #6
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Obama seems to have the smartest political advisors on earth. They are mostly Chicago folks. DC outsiders. They may be minor league, but they know their stuff it seems.
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Old 02-22-2008, 08:18 AM   #7
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Obama seems to have the smartest political advisors on earth. They are mostly Chicago folks. DC outsiders. They may be minor league, but they know their stuff it seems.
Yes, they deserve some praise but not all the alcolades being heaped on them right now.

Change? Politicans have been running on the platform of "change" since the Greek empire.

The difference is Obama's motivational speech's and the era/political climate is ripe for his opposite approach to Bush's leagacy.

People want to believe in real change. Thats why the Ron Paul's of the political landscape exsist.
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WHAT DID I SAY, HUH?!?!?! TELL ME AGAIN?!?! - WHO HAD FAITH IN YOUR TEAM?!?!? WHAT'S MY MOTHER****IN NAME!?!?!
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Old 02-22-2008, 08:58 AM   #8
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The difference is Obama's motivational speech's and the era/political climate is ripe for his opposite approach to Bush's leagacy.
Good point.
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Old 02-22-2008, 11:00 AM   #9
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Am I the only one that doesen't think Hillary did that much wrong?

I thought Hillary ran a strong, nearly-four year campaign.

I think she just ran into an incredible candidate, and voters chose him over her.
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Old 02-22-2008, 11:07 AM   #10
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Am I the only one that doesen't think Hillary did that much wrong?

I thought Hillary ran a strong, nearly-four year campaign.

I think she just ran into an incredible candidate, and voters chose him over her.
I think the biggest issue is the feeling that Clinton assumed she would be the nom. Almost like the only thing she needed to do to get the party's nod was show up. And then, when it looked like she was going to have to fight, she acted poorly. Obama didn't really have to prove, IMHO, that he was better than Hillary because she proved that she was worse.

Besides, her running this election has always been a bad idea I think. This election is ripe for a younger Dem who has distance from the current ills. And Clinton is nowhere near there.
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Old 02-22-2008, 11:12 AM   #11
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I think the biggest issue is the feeling that Clinton assumed she would be the nom. Almost like the only thing she needed to do to get the party's nod was show up. And then, when it looked like she was going to have to fight, she acted poorly. Obama didn't really have to prove, IMHO, that he was better than Hillary because she proved that she was worse.

Besides, her running this election has always been a bad idea I think. This election is ripe for a younger Dem who has distance from the current ills. And Clinton is nowhere near there.
How did she act poorly? By going negative? Show me one successful campaign in the history of mankind that didn't go negative. By raising petty issues? Again, extremely common.

Of course she assumed this race would be over by now. Everybody thought the race would be over by now. Obama thought the race would be over now. He wasn't budgeting for Texas and Ohio when he was cobbling together campaign donations in 2007, I'll tell you that much.

She can't change the fact that she's not "new" or "distant" from Washington politics; she can't alter reality.

Clinton's run a reasonable, acceptable, powerful campaign, which has raised (until recently) a lot of money from small donations and received a hell of a lot of money and support from The Party Establishment which she had concocted a great relationship with over the past decade.
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Old 02-22-2008, 11:13 AM   #12
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Good summary. The Clinton camp hasn't done anything right. Hard to believe they've fumbled away all that money and a, what, 25 point lead?

Obama is a good candidate and all but it was Clinton's race to lose before they started walking around stepping on rakes all day
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Old 02-22-2008, 11:15 AM   #13
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Off-topic, a bit....

but my first reaction to all of this thread's title, was.....

"Sheesh, if she really did that....with Bill, maybe she'd have a better chance in this election than she does."

Am I the only who was thinking that....
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Old 02-22-2008, 11:23 AM   #14
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Hey BRC, could you provide the link to this article please?
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Old 02-22-2008, 11:24 AM   #15
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Off-topic, a bit....

but my first reaction to all of this thread's title, was.....

"Sheesh, if she really did that....with Bill, maybe she'd have a better chance in this election than she does."

Am I the only who was thinking that....
My thought she hasn't blown anything in years. Except smoke up our butt.
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