The Hillary Clinton campaign has begun to throw everything they have left in the cupboard against Barack Obama as the window of opportunity begins to close on their candidate. Mike Allen and John F. Harris at Politico report that the campaign has also begun to turn on itself in its last throes on the national stage, and as polling numbers continue to drop nationwide:
With a week to go before climactic tests in Texas and Ohio, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign team has slipped into full recriminations mode.
Looking backward, interviews with a cross-section of campaign aides and sympathetic outsiders suggest a team consumed with frustration and finger-pointing about the apparent failure of several recent tactical moves against Barack Obama.
Looking forward, it is clear Clinton’s team has only a faint and highly improvisational strategy about what to do over the next seven days. Simply put, there is no secret weapon.
At Tuesday night’s debate in Ohio, aides are mapping plans for drawing persistent attention to Obama’s record without attempting any knock-out punch theatrics that could backfire.
Many recent decisions have done exactly that. This has left the campaign awash in anger over who is to blame.
The Clintons never got the message this cycle. They won in 1992 with James Carville fist-in-face tactics, but in sixteen years, people have tired of it. They want candidates who focus on themselves, not on their opponents. Both Barack Obama and John McCain managed to figure this much out, as did Mike Huckabee to a certain extent. They talked about their own narratives, while their opponents floundered by talking about others.
Hillary should have stuck with her own narrative. When she did that, she controlled the race. Only after she panicked after that disastrous November 2nd debate, in which she flip-flopped on drivers licenses for illegal aliens, did she come out hard against Obama. That’s when her campaign started discussing his kindergarten essays as evidence of his supposedly overweening ambition. Until then, she ruled the polls.
This will be instructive in the general election. With two candidates who seem to understand this mood in the American electorate, the question will be whether any negative or “contrast” politicking will work. The first candidate who can successfully manage it will win the election.