at the intersection of brands, media and culture

Political Strategy: the Candidate Formerly Known as Clinton

In Political Strategy on January 2, 2008 at 9:44 am

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For the last couple of months I’ve been struggling with Hillary’s campaign for President. Once upon a time she was Clinton For President, now she’s Hillary. “Hillary visited with ‘Meet the Press,’” “Hillary stopped through Le Mars, IA today,” “Hillary’s showing too much cleavage.” I always thought it was an interesting strategic choice to have Hillary run against Obama, Edwards and crew. Sure, I’d heard about Oprah making campaign appearances, but never John or Barack.

This shouldn’t come off as totally shocking, she’s been Mrs. Clinton and Hillary Rodham and Hillary Rodham Clinton in the past. As with most things Clinton, the advent of Hillary wasn’t simply by chance. But what did surprise me is that the mainstream press went along with it.

As a strategist, I think it was an interesting choice for her campaign. Those who liked Bill would transfer some of that equity to Hillary and those who claim that Clintonism brought on the Bush presidency would have a bit of distance from the C word and be allowed to make up their own opinion about Hillary before confronting the imperial idea of a Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton lineage.

I was almost getting used to hearing about Hillary’s travails in mainstream media and then this happened: I woke up to see that Clinton is back in the NYT and here at FoxNews although her own website is keeping “Hillary for President” and “Caucus for Hillary.” I think she should embrace a strategic shift to the Clinton-side. Now that we are almost out of Iowa and NH where folksy, retail politics reigns supreme it is time to shift back to the strengths (and weaknesses) of the Clinton brand for the larger states. Ultimately she will win or lose on the whole of the Hillary Clinton brand, which she can’t hide from forever.

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