- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 17, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Hillary Clinton knows she’s in trouble with white, working-class Americans — so much so that she’s promised to put her husband, former President Bill Clinton, in charge of “economic revitalization” if she wins the White House.

“My husband, who I’m going to put in charge of revitalizing the economy, ‘cause you know he knows how to do it,” Mrs. Clinton said at a rally in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, over the weekend. “And especially in places like coal country and inner cities and other parts of our country that have really been left out.”

Mrs. Clinton is scrambling to organize supporters in the Rust Belt states, where Donald Trump’s message of bringing jobs back and providing economic prosperity is resonating with blue-collar workers. Throughout the primary season, Mrs. Clinton has continually lost white, working-class voters to Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders, who, much like Mr. Trump, rallies against international trade deals and the rigged economy.

Mrs. Clinton has made many gaffes on the campaign trial among coal workers especially, saying “we’re going to put a lot of coal companies and coal miners out of business,” referring to her planned investment in clean energy. The comment arguably cost her to get buried in the West Virginia primary, and perhaps will cost her the Kentucky primary Tuesday night as well.

Mr. Clinton, however, remains popular among such workers.

“I’ve told my husband he’s got to come out of retirement and be in charge of this because you know he’s got more ideas a minute than anybody I know,” Mrs. Clinton said at the Kentucky rally while talking about manufacturing and jobs.

Still, the reference remains a bit shallow, especially since up to this point, Mrs. Clinton has tried to distance herself from her husband’s legacy, telling Stephen Colbert in October that she’s “not running for my husband’s third term,” and that she’s not aiming for “the Clinton administration 2.0.”

“I’m not running for my husband’s third term,” Mrs. Clinton said. “I’m not running for President Obama’s third term. I’m running for my first term. But I’m going to do what works.”

And, apparently, what’s working now is running on her husband’s popularity, especially since her likability numbers remain dismal among the American population. Still, not all Democratic strategists are convinced it will work.

“Strong as @billclinton’s record was, @HillaryClinton was ill-advised to pitch him as Econ czar,” David Axelrod, director of the University of Chicago Institute of Politics, tweeted. “Folks will be looking to HER for that!”


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