It’s been eight days since we last saw this world leader, who has avoided public sightings in places where people expect an appearance. No, we’re not talking about Vladimir Putin and Moscow, but Hillary Clinton and the campaign trail. While Republicans have flooded the zone in places like Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, Democratic activists keep waiting for the presumed czarina — er, front-runner — to show up and compete, as the Washington Post’s Philip Rucker discovered:
In Iowa, Democrats want to see Hillary Rodham Clinton mingling in their neighborhood coffee shops, answering their questions and sharing laughs. In New Hampshire, they expect her on their living-room couches, listening to their tales of struggle. In South Carolina, they’re eager to hold hands with her and pray together.
And in each of the early presidential primary and caucus states, Democratic activists are asking the same question: Where is Hillary?
As Clinton slow-walks her way into the 2016 presidential race, many of the Democratic front-runner’s most active supporters are concerned that she’s not yet doing the kind of face-to-face politicking that is well underway by a cast of a dozen or more likely Republican candidates.
The facile answer to this is that Hillary Clinton hasn’t yet declared her candidacy. However, neither have most Republicans. Only Jeb Bush and Ben Carson have exploratory committees in operation, and yet that hasn’t kept other Republicans from spending a lot of time on retail politicking in the key states.
That matters, too, because these states have significant numbers of independent voters who want to be wooed. Republicans aren’t just talking to other Republicans — they’re making a broader case for the GOP, which is especially important in purple states like Iowa and New Hampshire. Democrats need to compete against that, but having state legislators go up against national figures only emphasizes the lack of interest the Democratic frontrunner has shown thus far in party fortunes there.
Rucker notes that Hillary’s camp says they’re ready to reverse her reputation from the 2008 campaign as aloof and presumptuous. Part of that, though, requires the candidate to deign to show up in the first place.
The reason why Hillary won’t make an appearance seems very clear after last week’s debacle at the UN. After getting feted by global elites as “the next president,” Hillary then appeared at a press conference to declare that following the law and allowing for oversight didn’t outweigh her own desire for “convenience,” and then refused to consider allowing access to her server to verify her claims to have received 32,000 “private” emails in four years. No matter where she goes now in campaign mode, Hillary will have to answer questions about the e-mail scandal, and perhaps more problematic, about the foreign money that poured into her family’s foundation during her tenure as Secretary of State. She has yet to answer any questions at all on that scandal, and there’s no indication she’ll do any better at that than she did last week on the e-mail.
The answer? Pull a Putin — go off the grid for a while, and hope that the absence will force the media to forget about the scandals. When asked, call it “old news,” and make jokes about gossip when she returns to deflect questions. She can learn a lesson from the master about resetting the media, after all.
Speaking of Putin, Andrew Malcolm finally has an explanation for his absence from Conan O’Brien:
Vladimir Putin is back in public after a mysterious 10-day absence. Putin said, “It took me that long to recover from ‘The Bachelor’ finale.”
Well, it beats Seth Myers’ explanation.