A Memo from the Clinton Camp
As you may have noticed this year already, much of political campaigning involves attracting attention--to yourself, to your ideas, your image, your proposed policies, your endorsements, your opponents' foibles and faults, etc.
Another way is a memo, which carries the sense of being inside. There was one Hillary Clinton campaign memo that leaked a few weeks ago, advising her to forget about Iowa and focus elsewhere. That was disavowed and she spent much of last week there with husband Bill, a joint journey that just so happened to attract attention to that couple and detract attention from Barack Obama's impressive fundraising successes in dollars and number of supporters.
Now, Mark Penn, Clinton's chief strategist and pollster, has just written another memo, this one designed for public consumption, summarizing the campaign's first six months. It went out to selected press members and donors. But the audience isn't select anymore; it's posted on her website.
Not surprisingly, Penn is optimistic, quite optimistic. Campaigns are chronically optimistic, of course, even fraudulently optimistic. George H.W. Bush has confided to friends that...
he knew two weeks before the 1992 election that he would certainly lose to Clinton. But you never heard a pessmistic word uttered by him or his surrogates in those waning campaign days.
Shockingly, Penn sees his candidate having won all of the debates. He notes: "There will be another debate every month from now until the end of the year, and each debate provides Hillary with another opportunity to demonstrate her experience, talk about her record on issues, and show voters why she is the person best qualified to be president."
And he sees her winning every poll he looks at against Democratic opponents and against Rudy Giuliani, although he neglects to mention the leads there are well within the margin of error.
What's most intriguing about the memo is Penn's emphasis on Hillary representing change. That's a tough argument to make for her before the general election when she's lived in the White House eight of the last 15 years and been a senator the rest of that time. But the Clinton camp clearly hears Obama's resonating talk about being the fresh face and turning a fresh page.
Bill even appeared to admit it last week when introducing Hillary one time. "I know," he told an audience at the University of Iowa, "some people say, 'Look at them. They're old. They're sort of yesterday's news.' '' To get away from that, they've even dubbed the upcoming Bill/Hillary tour of New Hampshire the "Ready for Change, Ready to Lead" tour.
"The reason for Hillary's growing support," Penn pens, "is that voters want change, and they know that only Hillary has the record of fighting for the kind of change they want, and the experience to execute it." He does not provide any evidence of the changes she's provided.
But maybe most readers will skip over that omission as long as no one calls attention to it.
Photo: Sen. Hillary Clinton; Credit: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images