Sometimes, after the dust settles on a project, PR people look around and think, “Wow. I thought we were going to be hit a lot harder on [INSERT PERCEIVED WEAKNESS] than we were. But it really didn’t come up much. Cool.”
When the tell-all books get written about the Clinton campaign (and I’m already looking forward to them), I’m guessing we’ll hear at least a few Clinton strategists say they expected to get more heat on the relentlessly hammered “35 years of experience” point, but it never came.
Back in January, my friend Benidt observed here that
“Barack Obama — and the media — have given Hillary Clinton a pass on the issue of experience. Hillary talks about being ready on day one to be president — especially important in a time of terrorism when a new president will be tested, she says. Clinton is a second-term senator. Obama is a first-term senator. Yet Obama is the one about whom it’s always asked, “Does he have enough experience to be president?” As if Hillary, ipso facto, does have.”
Spot on. But weeks later, late in the primary game, and prompted perhaps by the Clintons pushing the envelope on the experience message with the 3 A.M. ad, the Clinton experience inquiry is starting. In a trickle.
Witness yesterday’s Time story, the beginning of what the magazine calls “a series that will take a closer look at the claims candidates make.” They’re starting with Clinton, analyzing her claims of provision of health care to six million kids, helping to bring peace to Northern Ireland, and brokering border deals to help Kosovo refugees. My read of Time’s analysis has her batting about .250 on claim vs. reality, but you can make that judgement yourself.
Pretty late in the game now for that to matter much, though. It may not be enough to get her to win the thing, but “35 Years” did its job in establishing Clinton’s experience as a general given. Whether that’s down to skillful messaging, uninspired reporting, or blunders from the opposition (or luck), credit the Clinton campaign with one of the most successful bits of messaging from anyone’s campaign so far. They’ve been able to call out Obama on experience while largely avoiding serious scrutiny themselves. Whether or not the campaign could articulate Clinton’s experience skillfully, they haven’t really had to. It’s worked splendidly.
That’s just for the primary, mind you. The general election would be another story.
— Hornseth invoice software kind