Friday, September 30, 2016

A Look Back at Hillary Clinton's 2008 Campaign Strategy

It's always interesting to look back in time and see what politicians that are running for office were doing during previous campaigns.  In the case of Hillary Clinton's 2008 campaign, as we all know, she hung on until the bitter end, suspending her campaign on June 7, 2008 with this speech:

By March 2008, it had become quite apparent that Barack Obama was going to be the Democratic nominee for president, however, Hillary Clinton hung in there and, as you'll see in this posting, her campaign team was ready to get "down and dirty" when it came to winning the nomination for her.

As background, the author of the following weekly strategic review for Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign was Mark Penn.  Mr. Penn has had a long involvement with the Clinton family and their association with American politics as stated on his website:

"He is also known as the strategist for and creator of well-known campaigns and ads, helping reelect President Bill Clinton and his move to the political center, devising then Senator Hillary Clinton’s successful “Upstate strategy,” creating Tony Blair’s “Forward not Back” campaign in 2005 and the “3AM” ad in the 2008 Presidential primaries, and led the team on Microsoft’s hugely successful 2014 Super Bowl ad when he headed advertising there. 

Penn has been a senior adviser to global corporate and political leaders including Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, Bill Ford, U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and President Bill Clinton."

He also claims to have helped elect over 25 heads of state around the globe.  His involvement with Hillary Clinton during the 2008 presidential cycle included serving as her Chief Campaign Strategist.

Now, let's look at the memorandum from Mark Penn to Senator Hillary Clinton dated March 19, 2007.  This first page shows the results of the most recent polling at the time notes that Barack Obama has the highest favourable across the board while Hillary Clinton has the highest favourable with Democrats, however, it does note that Obama's support is "soft":

Here's the second page which notes that one of Obama's weaknesses is his "lack of American roots":

Here's the third page which details Barack Obama's "lack of American roots" and how the Clinton campaign can use that perception to Hillary Clinton's advantage:

Note that the author states that "...his roots to basic American values and culture are at the best limited" and that he is "...not at his centre, fundamentally American in his thinking and his values."  By way of comparison, he notes that every speech that Hillary gives "...should contain the line that you were born in the middle of American to the middle class in the middle of the last century" and that she should talk about her "deeply American values that she grew up with, learned as a child and that drive you today".

On page four, we see the interesting concept that a "vast right and left wing conspiracy" was set up to "tear Hillary down":

This is reminiscent of Donald Trump and his concerns about the validity of the vote in 2016, isn't it?  It's even more interesting to note that Mr. Penn was concerned about how the "left (was) hell-bent on proving Clinton fatigue, and everyday they dredge up muck rather that (sic) look at Hillary and what she has accomplished.".

For completeness sake, here are the final pages of the eight page memorandum:

I do like the "Obama is all sizzle and no steak" reference on page five and the fact that her Chief Campaign Strategist wants Hillary Clinton to be "as likeable as possible", also on page five.  

With Donald Trump's recent comments on birtherism and his laying of the blame for the genesis of that entire movement on Hillary Clinton's shoulders, this memo shows us that, while Hillary Clinton's 2008 campaign wasn't directly responsible for questioning the current president's American roots, it was certainly willing to skirt the margins of the degree of his "Americanness" and remind them that he was not as American as she is.

1 comment: