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Note to Clinton: The heat comes with the turf

As has been widely noted, the "poor us" vibe continues to emanate from Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign after Tuesday's feisty candidate debate.

The "politics of pile on" is the phrase pushed by her staff (as noted here, it got incorporated into a plea for money). The theme was buttressed by a YouTube video that got a lot of attention. And the candidate herself, during an appearance Thursday at her alma mater, Wellesley College in Massachusetts, cut to the chase of the not-so-subtle message being sent.

As Newsday's Glenn Thrush writes, Clinton "played the gender card ... suggesting she's being singled out as the lone woman in an all-male presidential field."

Gee, color us insensitive, but maybe it also has something to do with the enormous amount of money she's raised, the depth of her institutional support within her party and the strong lead she's staked out in national polls. In short, she's the front-runner -- and thus the obvious target.

For a little perspective on this point, let's go back to those bygone days of the fight for the 2004 Democratic nomination, to a time when Howard Dean was viewed as the boss of the walk. There were frequent debates. And here's how stories in The Times characterized a couple of those encounters:

1/5/04: "With Iowa's Jan. 19 caucuses approaching, Democrats chasing former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean relentlessly attacked his policies, temperament and credibility in a pointed debate Sunday."

"The focus was squarely on the front-runner in the Democratic presidential race throughout the two-hour session, as Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts accused him of flip-flopping on issues, Rep. Dick Gephardt charged that Dean supported Republican plans to cut Medicare in the mid-1990s and Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut assaulted Dean's decision to block the release of some of his records as governor."

1/12/04: "Democratic presidential rivals jabbed at Howard Dean on Sunday night over his approach to race, taxes and immigration, taking one last shot at the front-runner in the last debate before next week's pivotal Iowa caucuses."

Dean "was on the defensive much of the night, faltering several times as he was quizzed about the racial makeup of his Cabinet as governor of Vermont and how he would deal with illegal immigrants."

Some of those topics -- immigration policy, release of public records -- sound awfully familiar. And, of course, Howard Dean is not a woman.

-- Don Frederick

Comments () | Archives (4)

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Obama & others just lost any chance they may have had for my vote. Although, I was leaning toward Hillary to start - after the Hillary Bashing at the recent debates, I will now definetly vote for her. The other candidates showed their true colors and how worried they were when they just bashed Hillary question after question and brought ther debates to a personal "high school clique" mentality instead of professional. I am NOT stupid, I am educated and knowledgable enough to make an informed decision and tell whe candidates "flip-flop" or grow and mature and change their stance. I have changed my stance on many political through the years as I grow and change - why would politician not change their views as life throws you new challenges... It makes you a better candidate, not a weaker one. It shows you are willing to listen to the public and have an open mind to change your views to support the "majority" needs.

Thanks Hillary for staying the course!! As for using the "female" card. Go for it, you are a woman and you bring a unique view to the issues that are important to women...and men alike. I also applaud the family decision to keep Chelsea in the background. She is a grown woman with her own life and she needs to be left alone to live it.

I can't agree with you more. I am not an American. I am very much a Filipino, but I like American politics. It seems very professional unlike Philippine politics which is banking heavily on character and personal assasination.

However, the recent Democratic debate shows just how similar people are across the globe. They would do anything and everything to get themselves elected as President.

Lo and behold, Hillary Clinton isn't your typical Presidentials nowadays. She is focused and refuses to engage herself in dirty tactics like the ones employed by Edwards and Obama. If I were an American, Hillary will definitely get my vote. The likes of Edwards and Obama are making my country's politics rotten to the core. We call them "TRAPO" or traditional politicians.

So what if she changes her mind on issues? That's pretty normal, isn't it? We can't be too ironclad on ourselves and be too hard-headed when confronted with the signs of the time. When the situation calls for a change of heart, then we need to re-consider our beliefs and convictions. That's perfectly normal. Who says it isn't? If you say so, then tell me have you always been consistent with you decisions? Has there not been a time when you had to change your decision for some compelling reasons?

Go Hillary!!!! Go!!! Beat them all!!!

Poor, poor Hillary has to now deal with journalists who remember way back to 2004!...Oh Bill, help...

I am a woman and Hillary has lost my vote for her ridiculous pity party politics and for dragging on the coattails of her gender and her husband. To women professionals she talks about women rising to the challenge, but she spoke to women in Iowa and told them to 'pick up their mops and brooms' and help her clean up Washington! As a woman I am insulted by that type of obvious and tacky use of the gender card-not to mention changing her talk for every audience. I would love a woman in the White House- just not that woman.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
President Obama
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