Despite all the great minds involved in the campaign such as James Carville, Terry McAuliffe, Harold Ickes, and both Clintons (see the rest here), their Achilles heel did them in. And what was that? Arrogance!
Their original plan appears to have been:
- Raise a bunch of money from a few rich donors
- Make speeches carefully worded to pander to voters without saying anything substantive that might be used against her
- Put an organization in place to go after the big primaries, and ignore those annoying little caucus states for the most part
- Be so far ahead after ‘Super Tuesday’ (Feb 5, 2008, a day that will live in infamy) that money will continue to roll in for the general election and coast to the nomination and crowning!
So what went wrong? Well everything really! Obama won the first ‘event’, a caucus, in Iowa. I’m sure the Clinton team thought “pfft, it’s a caucus, big deal, and we only just lost (well, ok, third), and we’ll be ahead shortly, stay the course”. She wins New Hampshire and they must feel like they’re back on track (remember ‘comeback kid’ in 1991?). February 5 comes along, and she doesn’t get the big lead. Money is POURING into the Obama campaign and the organizations are getting put together in EVERY state. Maybe they realized team Clinton had ignored the caucuses and went after those. Edwards doesn’t drop out which probably hurt Clinton further.
After a string of losses in caucuses and small state primaries, despite winning some HUGE STATES (CA, NY, PA, TX sorta, etc.), she still found herself behind, but the strategy had STILL NOT CHANGED except perhaps by highlighting her ‘experience’ over Obama’s message of ‘change’. ‘Experience’ came across as “more of the same” and “old”. Meanwhile Obama got a GIGANTIC push from Oprah Winfrey. “He is the one” she said, over and over. The crowd went nuts. Even I got goosebumps.
After it was already too late, her stump speeches began to get more specific, less boring, and less condescending and self-congratulatory. After agreeing that the results in Florida and Michigan, two HUGE and IMPORTANT states, wouldn’t count because they moved their primaries before Super Tuesday, team Clinton THEN decides they want to fight for them. Everyone saw through this as typical Clinton old school spin. But it was too late. Despite Obama scandals and distractions, he would not be denied. CNN, NBC, MSNBC, most bloggers, and idealistic twenty somethings had already fallen madly in love with him.
And then there’s Bill. The ex-President who is loved by so many as the creator of peace and prosperity in the 90’s. Well he quickly reminded people he has a temper and a mean streak too, and, like Hillary, is astoundingly arrogant. He did his wife NO FAVORS in this campaign, and without question cost her a ton of votes.
Other nails in the coffin were Hillary and Bill’s ‘flubs’, probably the most notable was her claiming to have landed in Bosnia under sniper fire when video showed she was greeted casually by smiling children with flowers! Unfairly or not, I think in people’s minds this might have subconsciously become linked to Bill’s “I did not have sex with that woman…” finger wagging bold faced lie. So she faced a credibility gap too.
And so today she finally conceded. Ms. “Inevitable” barely smiled. She wanted the speech to be historic, but it was still painful for her to deliver. She now clearly wants the VP spot, and I currently think it WOULD help Obama win the Presidency, BUT once he’d won it, then he’d have to put up with Hillary AND Bill for 4 or 8 years, a prospect he is no doubt thinking about.
It’s incredible that she and her oh so talented team blew this perfect opportunity. It just shows… you never know.
I have conflicted feelings about this. On the one hand I am glad she lost as I don’t like the calculating, cynical, manipulative, poll-driven way the Clintons operate. On the other hand, I’m sure this loss is very painful for Hillary Clinton and I feel bad for her. I do believe she was treated VERY poorly by the media.