NEWS AND OPINION:
The counter-coronation is underway as a reserved Hillary Rodham Clinton arrives on the presidential landscape. But wait. We’ve seen this before. Democratic strategist David Axelrod recast candidate Barack Obama as “no-drama Obama” during the 2008 presidential campaign after Republicans criticized the presumptuous trim of his campaign.
History and strategy repeat. Mrs. Clinton’s appears to be following the same model. The big announcement came in a little email from longtime adviser John Podesta; a two-minute feel-good video followed, heralding Mrs. Clinton as the “champion” of everyday Americans. There were kindly murmurs about events in Iowa and New Hampshire. Her campaign culture was also rebranded.
An in-house memo from Mrs. Clinton’s new campaign manager, Robby Mook, advised staffers, “We are humble…We are guided by Hillary’s bedrock values of hard work, service, fairness, and faith in the American Dream.” The document was quickly “obtained” by Politico and CNN.
Such kinder and gentler ways have not always been the case, however. Journalists have tracked Mr. Mook for months following ABC News revelations that his private emails to 150 Clinton campaign veterans sported a distinct “aggressive tone,” this according to Rick Klein, ABC’s political director. “They include rallying cries to, in Mook’s words, ‘smite Republicans mafia-style,’” and the group is known as the “Mook Mafia,” Mr. Klein said in his review of the emails, obtained in November from an anonymous Democratic staffer.
The takeaway? Yes, the nation could witness the debut of a new Hillary brand that projects wisdom, calm, authenticity and experience. But it will be an aggressive debut, from a team that has “smite” in its vocabulary.
“Hillary Clinton’s record of failure as Secretary of State disqualifies her from the presidency. Her views are indistinguishable from President Obama’s, which is a continuing prescription for American decline and defeat. Iran, Syria, ISIS, Benghazi, Russia — the list goes on and the one common denominator is Hillary Clinton,” declares John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
THE COMPULSORY MEDIA COVERAGE
As the hours dragged on before Hillary Rodham Clinton‘s presidential announcement, news organizations hovered over their pre-loaded stories as if they were waiting for the flag drop at a NASCAR race. Once the news became official midafternoon Sunday, the media marketplace became a very crowded field — hundreds of accounts with straightforward headlines, all whirling around the same news, and with no clear victor. But a few deviated. A sampling:
“Hillary Clinton enters with an edge, and a long, long way to fall” (National Journal); “Hillary Clinton’s slow walk to ‘yes’” (Politico); “Ready for Hillary 2.0” (MSNBC); “Everyday Americans need a ‘champion’: Wealthy Hillary enters race for the White House” (Daily Mail); “Hillary Clinton campaign wines and dines media at off-record dinners” (Breitbart Big Journalism); and “Now what?” (Newsweek).
“Now that her candidacy is official, we hope Mrs. Clinton answers these questions expeditiously. The gay Left may be willing to make assumptions about Mrs. Clinton’s support for the LGBT community, but Log Cabin Republicans will not,” says Gregory T. Angelo, executive director of the aforementioned Log Cabin Republicans, the nation’s largest GOP organization for gays and lesbians.
Among Mr. Angelo’s concerns: whether Mrs. Clinton believes gay marriage is a state rather than a federal matter; whether she supported “don’t ask, don’t tell” policies in the military during her time as first lady; and whether she is still “willing to engage with foreign nations guilty of gross human rights abuses against the gay community as she has been with her foundation.”
RUBIO’S MEDIA PLAN: FIRST ABC, THEN FOX
American voters will be treated to a third dramatic Republican moment Monday when Sen. Marco Rubio officially reveals his intent to run for president in 2016, staged at the Freedom Tower in Miami, a symbolic landmark for Cuban-American immigrants. Last week, Sen. Ted Cruz announced his White House plans with a soaring speech at Liberty University, while Sen. Rand Paul chose to rock the house from a glitzy hotel on the banks of the Ohio River.
Unlike his rivals, Mr. Rubio is making his announcement when the U.S. Senate is in session; he must make an appearance on Capitol Hill before heading to Florida. But he is a canny planner. Mr. Rubio will sit down with ABC News’ “This Week” moderator George Stephanopoulos in Miami — “just a few hours before the Florida senator will announce whether he will run for president in 2016,” the network said. As they say in the industry, it is a “good get” for ABC.
But the lawmaker’s Republican audience awaits him. As a newly minted candidate, Mr. Rubio will appear on Fox News for a substantial showcase. He’ll spend an entire hour with Sean Hannity at 10 p.m. to talk things out, presumably when at least some of the hubbub over Hillary Rodham Clinton lessens to a dull roar.
Critics will be waiting, though. Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz — also a U.S. representative from Florida — will stage a Monday morning news conference in Miami, of course, to discuss Mr. Rubio’s announcement and “what it means for middle-class families, Latinos, women and young people.”
THE DAWN OF DICKERSON
CBS News political director John Dickerson will replace veteran newsman Bob Schieffer as moderator of “Face the Nation.”
An ebullient Mr. Schieffer made the announcement during the show on Sunday; his last day in the host chair is May 31. Mr. Dickerson has some background heritage at the network, meanwhile. His mother, the late Nancy Dickerson, was one of the first female correspondents at CBS and served as an associate producer for the program in question.
“John is first and foremost a reporter — and that’s what he’ll be as anchor of ‘Face the Nation,’” noted CBS News President David Rhodes.
‘MOVE OUT OF MY WAY’
“Motorcade arrived at Andrews Air Force Base at 1:20 pm, where POTUS will golf on this beautiful Sunday afternoon with Marvin Nicholson, Joe Paulsen and Luke Rosa. When motorcade left the White House and was still on Pennsylvania Ave, the pooler in the first press van saw female driver in white Mercedes with DC tags roll window down and say ‘move out of my way’ as Secret Service in black van blocked her from driving through the motorcade. Never a dull moment.”
— Verbatim from the White House pool reports filed Sunday by Sabrina Siddiqui, a correspondent for The Guardian, describing President Obama‘s golf afternoon, his 223rd since taking office.
POLL DU JOUR
• 83 percent of Democratic voters say “the idea of electing the first woman president” does not make them inclined to vote for Hillary Clinton.
• 72 percent say it is a “good thing” for Mrs. Clinton to have competition to become the Democratic nominee for president.
• 53 percent say Mrs. Clinton purposely withheld or deleted some emails” relevant to her time as secretary of state.
• 39 percent say they “definitely will not vote” for Mrs. Clinton.
• 25 percent say they “may or may not” vote for Mrs. Clinton.
• 17 percent say they will “probably” vote for Mrs. Clinton.
• 18 percent say they “definitely” will vote for her.
Source: A Bloomberg Politics poll of 687 Democrats and independents who lean Democratic, conducted April 6-8.
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