When you’ve been in the public eye for 25 years and your unfavorable ratings are an average of 17 percentage points higher than your favorable ratings, what do you to try to change things?
Hillary Clinton’s re-branding effort reached its peak Tuesday night with a lineup of speakers who shared personal stories about her impact in their lives.
The most personal came from her husband, former president Bill Clinton. By reflecting on their courtship, parenthood and her commitment to public service, Clinton the former president did his best to humanize Clinton the wannabe president.
While accentuating the positive, he left out the negative challenges the couple faced, which wasn’t lost on the Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump.
Trump has his own 17-percentage point deficit in favorability ratings. Who did a better job to close the gap will be played out over the next few weeks.
Bill Clinton Pours on the Estrogen
Maureen Dowd – The New York Times
He told a familiar love story, recounted in his memoir, about springtime at Yale Law School in 1971 and a “magnetic” girl with thick blond hair and big glasses and no makeup and a long, white flowery skirt….
[T]onight it was Bill’s turn to rescue Hillary from being the most unknown known person in history. One of the most liked presidents was charged with humanizing one of the least liked presidential candidates.
The uncontrollable Clinton had to make the tightly-controlled Clinton seem less coiled and more endearing. The Protean pol had to take his wife’s ever-shifting personas and policies, and paint a cohesive portrait. He rivaled Ivanka in his talent for airbrushing, but he probably won’t be offering his convention outfit for sale tonight.
Folksy, Impeached President Endorses Scandal-Plagued, Disliked Wife
Guy Benson – Townhall
Clinton painted a portrait of a technocratic workhorse (committees! task forces!) who genuinely cares about people, and has channeled those sentiments into a lifetime of tireless public service. That was the whole point of his at times meandering reminiscences about their early life together. And putting a human face on a woman seen by many as power-hungry and calculating is precisely why he devoted quite a lot of time to describing Hillary as a mother. (I don’t think talking about Hillary’s water breaking was simply tossed in casually)….
Did it play well on television? I bet it did. It helped her. Was it a game-changing performance that’s likely to permanently alter people’s perceptions of Hillary Clinton? I doubt it. She is still the same flawed, unlikable, dishonest, ethically-unfit candidate she was this morning. And if rumors and vows are to be believed, more embarrassments and ethical imbroglios may lie ahead for her. Bill Clinton hasn’t lost his touch as a marvelous political communicator, but there’s only so much he could work with here.
Democrats Aren’t Making Their Strongest Case for Clinton
Ramesh Ponnuru – Bloomberg View
Bill Clinton took on a daunting task on the Democratic convention’s second night: convincing Americans who have been watching his wife for a quarter-century that their picture of her is mistaken…
But I don’t think he met the admittedly formidable challenge before him. He talked at great length about their relationship, but omitted the key fact about it that everyone knows: that he has been unfaithful to her. He could have said, just once, that Hillary had put up with him more than he deserved. It would have been a powerful moment that lent credibility to everything else he said….
Most Americans dislike her, and most Americans dislike Trump, leaving a lot of voters in the middle who dislike both.
But most Americans think she is qualified to be president, and he isn’t….Instead of trying to make voters happy…they could try to make them scared: scared of the consequences of a Trump presidency.
Bill’s Desperate Bid to Humanize Hillary Shows Fear She Might Lose
Michael Goodwin – New York Post
After 25 years in public life, she feels the need to tell us she cares….
The details were charming in a routine way, but the whole exercise had a bizarre quality. Hours after she became the first woman to be the presidential nominee of a major party, America had to be reminded that she was both ordinary and extraordinary at the same time.
The only possible reason is that the Clintons’ jubilation is mixed with fear. The polls are telling a terrifying story — Donald Trump really could win.
Bill Clinton Tries to Rebrand Hillary
Jeff Greenfield – Politico
What links these speeches is that they take the same approach to the same problem: How to redefine a person. Hillary Clinton today is seen by a dangerously large number of Americans as an entitlement queen, raking in huge sums of money, exempting her from the rules others must live by. In 1988, George H.W. Bush was seen as a creature of privilege, the embodiment of Andover-Yale WASP, a faithful vice president without tensile strength, burdened by what Newsweek called “the wimp factor.”
Bush redefined himself with a highly effective speech…that cast him as tough and decisive, and a man whose values and background were emblematic of his generation…
And for those inclined to see Hillary as the fanatically ambitious caricature out of a Kate McKinnon Saturday Night Live skit, there was the reminder of that most sacrosanct of roles: “For the next 17 years, through nursing school, Montessori, kindergarten, through T-ball, softball, soccer, volleyball and her passion for ballet, through sleepovers, summer camps, family vacations and Chelsea’s own very ambitious excursions, from Halloween parties in the neighborhood, to a Viennese waltz gala in the White House, Hillary first and foremost was a mother.
After Bill’s Speech, Is it ‘Change Maker’ Hillary or ‘Steady’ Hillary
Byron York – Washington Examiner
There’s an obvious tension between steady Hillary and change maker Hillary. But there is also a tension between change maker Hillary and the message from the Obamas, both of whom are arguing that things are going pretty well in the country. The problem with that, for someone running for office today, is that somewhere around 70 percent of voters believe the nation is on the wrong track.
It all makes change maker a harder sell than steady hand.
If there is anyone who can sell change as steadiness, or steadiness as change, it is Bill Clinton. After his speech Tuesday night, there was some difference of opinion on whether he still has the old magic. But to convince voters that Hillary Clinton, running for what amounts to a third term of the Obama administration, is in fact a change maker will perhaps require more magic than Bill ever had.