It was a good example of how to turn Clinton’s Washington-insider status into a strength. Instead of simply asserting that her government experience would be an asset, she deployed the kind of example that people remember.
Because she said what she really believes, she sounded authentic not only in substance, but in style. Clinton’s not a great inspirational speaker. When she lapses into ostensibly uplifting generalities, she often sounds canned. In her Snowden answer, by contrast, she displayed her natural voice: wonky and blunt. Like her husband, and more than Obama, she thrives when talking about the details of policy. And when she gives direct, unhedged answers like she did on Friday, she comes across as tough without having to say she is. She was even funny, mocking the fact that Snowden called “into a Putin talk show and says, ‘President Putin, do you spy on people?’ And President Putin says, ‘Well, from one intelligence professional to another, of course not.’ ‘Oh, thank you so much!’ I mean really.” Presidential candidates don’t often risk sarcasm, but it worked in this case because it sounded like the real Hillary.