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My campaign advice to Hillary Clinton

When Barbara Buono ran against Chris Christie for governor of New Jersey her campaign was slow to react to the negative onslaught that Christie had prepared. The moment she announced her running make, the Christie campaign had an immediate reply so that the very same news cycle would be filled not with why she's a good running-made but with Christie's attacks and the fact that the Buono campaign hasn't replied yet.

If you remember when Dukakis ran for president he refused to respond to any attacks on the theory that it just gives them credibility. As a result, he looked like an idiot. In this 24/7 news cycle, if you don't have an immediate response, cable TV news has 24 hours of nothing to say but to repeat the attack.

Four years after Dukakis, a Democratic candidate surprised the world by actually fighting back. He set up a "war room" and made sure that every attack was responded to immediately. They used a "flood the field" technique so that each attack received 100 responses. Did it work? Well, that candidate was your husband, Bill Clinton, and he won that election against all odds.

Eight years later Al Gore chose the Dukakis strategy. He didn't want to look unpresidential. As a result, one of the most honest men in politics was painted as a "compulsive liar" ("he claims the film Love Story was written about him! he says he invented the internet!"). He kind of won, but then lost at the supreme court because he figured, heck, if we are just honest the good and honest courts will follow the law and how could we possibly lose. Meanwhile Cheney right away saw that this would be won or lost in the media and nothing else mattered. If you recall, Al Gore did not become president.

Then John Kerry followed the Dukakis/Gore strategy and lost.

Then Obama used the "war room" strategy and won. Twice. He made an interesting change to the strategy... he was never the one to respond because he didn't want to look like "the angry black man". Instead he had legions of surrogates responding so he didn't have to.

So now it is your turn. Are you going to be the unprepared Barbara Buono or the well-prepared, Clinton-esque, ready-to-fight, go-getter?

Based on who you hired to run your earlier campaign, I have zero hope. You are surrounded by "yes men" and "yes women" that are in a bubble, confusing inevitability in the primary with inevitability in election. This isn't going to be an easy win. They have 20+ years of "attack research" sitting in a warehouse just waiting to be used. Just because they didn't get to use it in 2008, doesn't mean they don't still have it.

If I see Mark Penn on your campaign staff again, or any sign that there is no war room, or that the war room is fucked up, I swear I don't know what I'm gonna do.

Pissedd that Christie is still my governor.

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You give me some hope, because I think one of the top progressive priorities of 2015 will be to make sure Hillary Clinton is not nominated, and if her campaign team and strategy suck, it'll be easier to beat her in the primary.

Unfortunately that hope is tempered by the knowledge that her campaign team and strategy were quite good in 2007/8, and it took an excellent campaign to beat her, but not beat her by an awful lot.

If I were a Republican strategist, I'd be praying for Hilary to win the primaries as the best (only?) hope of the Republicans winning the election. In the same way that having Sarah Palin as their VP candidate in 2008 meant that there was a Republican campaign worthy of the name that year, anyone vs Hilary gets them a strong campaign because of how much so many people hate her.

But if not her, then who? Is anyone else doing the work she has already done? Can anyone match her fund-raising base?

Two years before the primaries, it's much too early to answer those questions. Though it's not entirely too early to start thinking about creating answers to those questions over the next year and a half.

I think the most valuable thing she can do is hint that she'll run but then not. That way the Republicans will spend all their energy preparing for the wrong battles.

My campaign advice for Hillary Clinton:

Please don't run. I'd really hate to have to sit out the 2016 elections.

Do you know what pissed me off to no end about Michael Dukakis? That he let the Republicans reframe the word "liberal" as something bad. I don't define myself as a liberal at all, however, there is a rich tradition in the Democratic party and for him to let someone else basically define his party was just weak, weak, weak.

*That* is something Bill Clinton did not do. He defined himself (down to his marital partnership) and his agenda on his terms and god help the person who tried to take that power away from him.

I agree, if she has a snowball's chance of hell in winning the primary, let alone the general election, she's going to have to adopt that same sort of strategy.

I don't expect Hilary to run

She's carrying two loads of baggage - hers and Obama's. There's no way she can avoid being tarred with everything bad anyone can think to say about this administration, even after she's left it.

I remember her campaign being fairly hard and nasty. It was one of the things that turned me off her early on; if there's something the media will hash on worse than an angry black man it's an angry woman. She'll need a cadre of attack dogs that'll let her appear to stay above the fray.

The Dems don't have a lot of good alternatives, at least so far as I can see right now.

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