Hillary Clinton officially launches her presidential campaign with a big New York rallyJune 13. Well, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
Most of us thought the all-but-crowned Democratic Party nominee kicked off her second quest for the White House with an Internet videoApril 12.
But it has been a rough two months, so who can blame Clinton for wanting to start over with an “official launch” speech?
Her poll numbers have plummeted. A CNN/ORC poll released the other day put her favorability rating at 46 percent, a plunge of 23 points since her high of 69 percent in 2011 when she was secretary of state. Her unfavorability score was 50 percent, the worst showing for her in the CNN poll in 14 years. More bad news came in a Washington Post/ABC News poll finding that only 45 percent of Americans see her positively and only 41 percent view her as honest and trustworthy.
What’s more, her candidacy isn’t generating much enthusiasm in some important corners of the moneyed Democrat/liberal establishment. The New York Times reported that none of the billionaires who were the biggest donors in previous elections have been inclined so far to ante up the kind of commitment that wealthy Republican/conservative contributors have made to GOP super PACs. Also, Times columnist Maureen Dowd interviewed “several dozen Hollywood players” and found, as one of them put it, “a palpable lack of energy amongst the people who have been insiders for years.” Dowd concluded Hollywood would eventually “kiss the ring to fund the restoration.”
There’s no doubt about it, Clinton in the end won’t want for money. But it’s telling that she has what the website Politico called a “jam-packed fundraising schedule” over the next month with 26 donor events.
Speaking of money — and doesn’t that topic naturally come up when talking about the Clintons? — her candidacy hasn’t been helped by the drip-drip of revelations about dodgy aspects of the Clinton Foundation. One day it’s whether donations came from Sweden to protect its big companies from U.S. sanctions for doing business with Iran; another day there’s a connection to the FIFA soccer bribery scandal. Then there were donations from countries winning approval to buy U.S. weapons while Clinton was secretary of state. In the middle of it all, there are those speaking fees totaling millions of dollars, mostly for Bill Clinton but for her as well. Hmmm, I don’t think that’s what Obama meant when he famously said during the 2008 campaign that “words matter.”
Then there’s the concerted effort to avoid questions from the news media. Given the uproar over the foundation, maybe she’s just trying to avoid a circumstance where she might have to say, “I’m not an influence peddler.”
What’s the argument for a Clinton presidency? Once it was to be her experience as secretary of state. Then came the Islamic State and its battlefield victories and beheading atrocities, Vladimir Putin gobbling up parts of Ukraine and China throwing its weight around in the South China Sea at the expense of its neighbors.
Domestically, Clinton has talked about income inequality and about how the deck is stacked against “everyday Americans.” But Democrat Obama has been in charge since 2008. The status of the middle class has declined in those years and the nation has endured the worst economic recovery since World War II. Clinton’s answer is four more years of Democrats’ policies.
The other day, Clinton came up with a new campaign theme: register every American to vote at age 18. “Universal voter registration” as a battle cry? Well, it’s certainly better than “bring on the metric system,” which is the election cause of Lincoln Chafee, the latest no-hope Democrat to oppose Clinton for the Democratic nomination.
It would be premature to say the Clinton candidacy is in trouble. But it’s definitely going in the wrong direction. The big question is, how low can it go?