Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Clinton Factor

There has been a lot of press lately on concerns that voters who supported Hillary Clinton in the primary are going to vote for John McCain. In fact, the McCain campaign is even running a commercial highlighting this, titled “Debra.” While I don’t dispute the fact that some voters out there vote not by party lines but by the candidate (I’m that way), I find it hard to fathom that after the many years of a Republican administration, that it would be so easy for voters to abandon the Democratic party if they voted that way in the primary.

In fact, I think the media has become enamored with the Clinton factor, and despite the fact that she lost the primary but still with big numbers, the media seems to want to make the Clintons into an issue. And when I say “the Clintons” I mean both Hillary AND Bill. Do I think Hillary and Bill are unhappy that Hilary lost the bid for the presidency? Sure. Do I think that they are both dumb enough to shoot their own party in the foot? No. I think when it all comes down to it, they know that as long as the party regains the White House, it could mean they would continue to wield influence in Washington and elsewhere. But the media seems desperate to stir concern that Hillary and Bill are so unhappy with their loss that they would be willing to stir discontent within their own party, or they will endorse Barack Obama and not mean it. I think her speech at the Democratic Convention last night should have put that whole issue to bed. Yet even now as I write this, the media is still taking whether this will be enough to sooth the what they see as a divided Democratic Party.

On a similar vein, the McCain campaign seems to think that using Hillary’s own campaign rhetoric against Barack Obama scores points for the Republican candidate. My grandmother used to tell me to be careful when I point fingers, because when you do, three of them are pointing back on YOU. McCain could, and probably will, have his own worries about his own campaign rhetoric depending on whom he chooses as his running mate, since McCain has his share of nasty comments against his peers. But, clearly the McCain campaign thinks that Hillary’s words are powerful enough that they will bring more voters to the McCain side. Instead, Hillary has used it by saying that she didn’t approve the message (spoofing of course the old tag line “And I approved this message”).

It’s clear to me that both the media and the McCain campaign feel that the Clintons still have drawing power. But using her words against her own party is a tactic that can only bring McCain short term results, helping only to win over voters who really may not have party loyalty to begin with. There are other voters out there who can also be swayed against McCain for the same reason; these things aren’t always one sided. So the McCain campaign should beware of the Clinton Factor, because it just may come back to bite them.


Passed Over

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