In The Two-Front War On Character, Clinton Might As Well Give Up On Winning The Voters' Trust

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Jul 03, 2016 7:30 PM
In The Two-Front War On Character, Clinton Might As Well Give Up On Winning The Voters' Trust

Okay–so let’s recap the 2008 Democratic primary. Hillary Clinton is waging a tough campaign trying to clinch the nomination from newcomer Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois. When the rumors that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) might challenge Clinton, The Washington Examiner’s Byron York listed reasons why the hard-core progressive should run. One of the reasons was that Clinton is a bad campaigner:

For a group of seasoned veterans, the 2008 Clinton campaign showed a stunning ignorance of how to win delegates in a Democratic contest. Rival Barack Obama exploited that weakness brilliantly. For example, Obama collected more net delegates by winning the Idaho caucuses, with 21,000 participants, than Clinton did by winning the New Jersey primary, with more than 1 million voters. Clinton just didn't pay attention to the smaller stuff, particularly the caucuses, and her cluelessness helped Obama win. It might help another rival in 2016.

Yes, I know she won decisively over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, but a self-described Democratic socialist gave her a run for her money—and Sanders is a significant downgrade regarding the caliber of candidate compared to Barack Obama in 2008. If it weren’t for the South and the Democratic superdelegate system, this still could be a race. Yet, while how to accrue delegates may have been a point of weakness (or ignorance) on the Clinton team in 2008. The appalling lack of self-awareness over her lack of trust with voters may be what hamstrings her this cycle.

This is what she said on Monday (via CNN):

Hillary Clinton, facing direct criticism about her trustworthiness from rival Donald Trump, admitted Monday she needs to do more to earn voters' trust.

"I personally know I have work to do on this front," Clinton said at a Rainbow Push Collation luncheon, from prepared remarks. Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, spoke at length about a deterioration of trust throughout the country and institutions, but argued that her own trustworthiness issues are a byproduct of politicians looking to score political points and "25 years' worth of wild accusations."

"A lot of people tell pollsters they don't trust me. Now I don't like hearing that and I have thought a lot about what is behind it," she said.

Clinton has long struggled to explain why voters don't trust her, but Monday marked the most thorough and comprehensive attempt she has made to address the issue during this campaign.

"It certainly is true, I have made mistakes. I don't know anyone who hasn't," she said, while still maintaining outside factors -- such as partisan attacks -- are also to blame for the perception.

"You can't just talk someone into trusting you. You've got to earn it,” she said.

Well, if the goal of this speech was to lay down the foundation to paint Clinton as Mrs. Trust while the FBI investigation into her server continues, it failed miserably. Not due to Mrs. Clinton personally, but because Bubba decided to meet privately with Attorney General Loretta Lynch in Phoenix. The spouse of someone under federal investigation meeting with the leading prosecuting attorney in the country…whoever thought this was a good idea needs a cat scan. Nevertheless, it happened. The damage is done. Whether Bill and Lynch only discussed grandchildren and golf for 30 minutes (or not) is not relevant; it’s the perception. Oh, and as for earning trust, the emails that weren’t turned over, but were made public prior to Hillary’s remarks about earning trust, is just more ammo for Trump and Republicans to use against her—and they should (via Politico):

Shortly before Clinton made her remarks, The Associated Press reported on another 165 pages of emails from her time at the State Department, including 34 that she did not turn over last year that were sent through her private account.

[…]

Recalling her 2000 Senate run in New York, Clinton remarked that voters "had doubts about me," adding that she "delivered" for people, "and in the end, I earned their trust." And after her defeat in the 2008 Democratic primary against Barack Obama, she said, "he trusted me to be his secretary of state."

"So here’s what I say to voters who may have doubts: No one, no one will fight harder for you or your families than I will. You can count on that," she said. "I’ve been called a lot of things, but quitter is not one of them."

We have these emails that weren’t disclosed and now your husband is meeting privately with Lynch. It sounds to me that maybe you shouldn’t have made that speech, Mrs. Clinton. Any attempt to rehabilitate your trust issue with voters is now dead. It will always circle back to Bill’s meeting with Lynch and the email server. Even if you’re cleared of any wrongdoing, Bill’s meeting with Lynch on her plane is going to come up. To Republicans and Independents, the perception is that the fix was in during the meeting. For Democrats, it’s hard to spin something that pretty much everyone, including former members of the Obama White House, felt was a stupid, unforced error. Heck, even some Clinton supporters don't trust her. 

Oh, and Trump might as well have struck oil. Given to how the media covers his every word, he can go on television for his 40-minute-to-an hour long speeches/press conferences where he’ll hammer away at Clinton as being “crooked” and untrustworthy. Clinton is hoping these stories are going away after Independence Day. Don’t count on it. 

Clinton is now fighting a two-front war concerning her character. Voters don't like her and think she's untrustworthy. She may have to mount a monumental campaign to increase her likability numbers because right now, it looks as if painting her as someone who has integrity is dead.