5 Things Hillary Clinton Must Change About Her Campaign

hillary-clinton-votingI make no secret about the fact that I’m a Hillary Clinton supporter. It’s not that I don’t like Bernie Sanders, I just have my doubts about his chances to win the general election and how effective he can be as president. Seeing as 2016 is one of the most crucial elections in many of our lifetimes, I’m not overly eager to support a candidate who 41 percent of Democrats have said they wouldn’t support in a recent Gallup poll because he’s a self-described socialist.

But even as a Clinton supporter, I’m not blind to her flaws. In fact, I’ve grown increasingly frustrated with her campaign thus far. Not because I doubt her as a candidate, but in politics, perception matters – and the perception of her as a candidate has taken a beating lately.

Now, that’s not entirely her fault. As Sanders supporters have become more emotionally invested (and sometimes flat-out hostile and irrational), it’s natural that they’re going after her with the same tenacity that Republicans have for years. And I’m not exaggerating when I say that. I could write an article filled with nothing but comments I’ve come across from Sanders supporters about Clinton and you would think they were taken straight from Republicans.

While I’ll continue to put my support behind Hillary, I think she needs to make some changes to her campaign – and soon. Otherwise, even if she wins the nomination (which is still very likely), the perception of her is going to be so tarnished that it’s going to make a once slam-dunk candidate very vulnerable next year.

That’s Hillary Clinton’s biggest problem right now – perception. Literally nothing “new” has come out about her over the last year. It’s the same nonsense Republicans have been pushing for years. Even the email “scandal” they keep pushing is something almost no one really cares about. Yet, despite the fact that nothing has really changed (except she’s actually come out far more liberal than many had thought she would on several issues) liberals continue to turn against her.

So here are five changes I believe Clinton must make to her campaign if she wants to gain back her momentum.

1. She has to come off more personable: Listen, Hillary Clinton isn’t Bill. She’s never been the most warm or personable person in politics. She’s far more “business” than “personal” – and there’s nothing really wrong with that. I’ve never been someone who “wants to have a beer” with the president. I just want an effective leader.

That being said, she has to stop coming off like she’s afraid to answer questions without being prepped beforehand. She wasn’t always like this. She’s never been the type of speaker President Obama or Bill Clinton is, but she’s never been this robotic. I’m not sure who’s telling her to be this “stiff” but they’re giving her horrible advice. One of the biggest contrasts I’m seeing is that when she says something, it’s cold – even if what she’s saying is great. Again, it’s about perception.

2. Embrace the press: This one is tough, because hammering Clinton is good for business. While I’ve never been a big believer in “gotcha questions” (though they do exist), it’s clear many members of the media are fighting to ask her questions not because they want to hear what she says about an issue, but because they’re hoping to get their next “shocking headline.”

But at the same time, “freezing out” the press just appears shady. Even though I understand why she’s not the biggest fan of the media, blowing them off doesn’t help either. She needs to take a page from President Obama’s playbook and just hit back at the media if they ask a question that’s clearly meant to try to lure her into giving them fodder for an anti-Hillary article.

3. Expand her speaking audiences: It’s been rumored that the main reason why Clinton is holding many of her speeches at smaller venues is to appear more like “one of the people.” Look, that’s not going to happen. She’s a multimillionaire, a former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State. One of the biggest perceptions that’s helped Sanders build momentum is the liberal blogs bragging about the big crowds he’s drawing in.

Now, does any of this really matter? Well, it goes back to perception. When your strongest opponent is speaking in front of 8,000 people and you, the presumptive frontrunner, are speaking in front of 2,000 – it looks bad. If Clinton wanted to, she could fill large venues with massive crowds. Catering to smaller crowds is only making her look less popular than Sanders, which isn’t true. While her numbers have taken a slight dip, she’s still crushing him in national polls.

If I were advising Clinton, I would insist that she needs to build up her “rock star” vibe again. A big step toward accomplishing that is seeing the headline, “Clinton attracts 15,000 at speech in (fill in the state).”

4. She needs to take command of her liberal message: I’m amazed at how many liberals I come across who honestly believe she’s no more liberal than someone like Jeb Bush. While she’s clearly not as far-left as Sanders, she a lot more “left” than many liberals seem to think she is. The biggest reason for that is she’s not out in front of her message, pushing the fairly left-wing agenda on which she’s running.

Once again, it’s about perception. If you’re running on universal health care; women’s rights; campaign finance reform; immigration reform; reducing (or eliminating) the costs of getting an education at a public university; combating climate change; and regulating Wall Street – yet many on “your side” seem completely unaware of all of that – that’s called being ineffective at getting your message out.

5. She needs to stop campaigning “not to lose”: I’ve never – ever – been a fan of the tactic “play not to lose.” Sure, it’s safe – but it’s also weak. Clinton is the overwhelming favorite to win the Democratic nomination. That being said, leaning against that lead, hoping it doesn’t shrink too much before next summer, is a piss-poor strategy for someone who wants to be President of the United States.

Hillary needs to get her ass out there, take charge and be the person she’s been most of her political career. It seems as if the people running her campaign have basically told her to “play it safe and ride this thing out,” hoping her big lead holds. That might ultimately work, but it’s not doing her any favors to energize the people who’ve begun to doubt her ability to be a leader.

Win or lose, I’d always rather see someone “play to win” than simply build a lead and sit back hoping not to lose.

Look, this isn’t meant to appear as if I’m “losing faith.” Again, a lot of this is just about perception rather than reality. Like I said, nothing about Hillary Clinton has changed (outside of her actually becoming more liberal) since this time last year when she was overwhelmingly popular among liberals. And while her numbers remain high, there’s no denying that there are quite a few who have lost some of that enthusiasm about her they once had.

And while I’ll never be in a position to directly advise her, if I could, these are five of the things I’d tell her she needs to do ASAP. In politics, perception is often reality, and right now the way she’s been running her campaign hasn’t given off the best perception to many voters who she’s gong to need if she ever wants to become president.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


Facebook comments

  • epazote

    Hillary’s a neoliberal corporatist, an R2Per (interventionist) war hawk and ardent supporter of the Zionist entity.
    Tigers don’t change their stripes….Hillary is right of center.

  • Korian73

    You’re right, she is playing it too safe. I was one of her supporters back in 2008 (still have my pins an signs). I believe she is the best person to lead this country and try to work with the Christian Republicans /Conservatives (even though they hate her). She will be our country’s “Iron Lady”. But she has to play it to win; knock out Sanders now before he gains more of a foothold.

  • moiv

    Headlines like this in the RGV aren’t helping:

    “Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton arrived to the Rio Grande Valley Friday evening for a private fundraiser in Edinburg.

    Many people gathered to be present at Clinton’s fundraiser, where only
    those who were willing to donate $2,700 toward her campaign were able to


    • usmale475

      soooooo ? have you seen how much Republicans have charged?

  • DrAWNiloc

    HIlary’s most immediate problem is getting Dems to forget 2008.

    • SophieCT

      Why? She ran a good race, put the party first and campaigned her heart out for Obama (like she promised), and went on to put the country first and serve him faithfully and diligently as his SoS. She can be very proud of 2008.

      • DrAWNiloc

        Exactly. She needs people to forget how she went from a prohibitive favorite to being drubbed in 2008. She also needs people to forget the Michigan-Florida fiasco. And Iraq. I could go on.

      • SophieCT

        I wish you made sense. But please do go on–you’re winning supporters for Hillary!

  • Cemetery Girl

    I’m not a big Hillary fan, but if she ends up getting the candidacy (which she probably will, even if I don’t appreciate the “just suck it up and love Hillary” vibe) I will give her consideration. (Lol, honestly compared to the Republican hopefuls it isn’t much consideration needed.) I think her problem isn’t she isn’t showy enough (although perhaps if there wasn’t the liberal attitude of “just suck it up and love her” she would put more effort into reaching the masses now), but for our own reasons.

  • Nancy Rothrock

    As much as its time for a female President, I am also for
    Bernie. The reason Hillary is leading is because most Americans, unless they
    are political junkies don’t know Bernie. It’s just name recognition. I will vote for Hillary only as a last resort against another GOP term, but she will continue the status quo, Bernie will try to change things. Look at the issues…. XL pipeline, TPP, Monsanto and food labeling. She is either with the GOP or refused to commit herself. She has always been more for military action than Obama.

    • SophieCT

      Competence, the economy, real life history of DOING something for women and children, civil rights, and so on. I love Bernie’s FB memes, but if I were voting for the best meme-maker, I pick George Takei.

  • The Reader

    Would you really want your candidate to play all of her/his “hand” at the beginning of a race/ Bernie is a true American and addresses the things that are near and dear to us which also are being tossed aside by congress, but I stand for someone who can get things done in the WH because she knows how to go about it and what the pitfalls are. If Obama’s legacy is to continue, we need Hillary. We still need Bernie in congress along with Elizabeth Warren (and their clones) to drive home the programs that keep all Americans afloat.