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Obama and Newt are Wrong: Hillary Doesn't Have 2016 in the Bag

By       Message William Bike     Permalink
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Many politics watchers, including President Barack Obama and even Republican Newt Gingrich, believe that Hillary Clinton already has the 2016 presidential election sewn up.

Not so, says William S. Bike, author of the book Winning Political Campaigns: A Comprehensive Guide to Electoral Success.

"Many have forgotten that Hillary Clinton failed to get the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination not only because Barack Obama's campaign was a good one, but because her campaign was so bad," Bike said.

The 2008 Clinton campaign made mistake after mistake, Bike recalled, mentioning several Clinton campaign faux pas that are contained in the book "Winning Political Campaigns." 

"For one thing, the campaign was top-down, while Obama's was decentralized and grass roots," Bike explained. "So the Clinton central campaign structure tried to control everything, which didn't work. Plus the people at Clinton campaign HQ weren't that good, anyway.

"For example, they were focusing on yesterday's technology by still working on building direct mail lists, while the Obama campaign was focusing on building e-mail lists. The Clinton campaign was tied to the old system where time was spent courting the old big-money donors and promising the status quo to them, while use of the internet freed Obama to spend his time courting new donors who wanted change.

"Clinton campaign personnel talked a lot about strategy--never a good sign," Bike said. "As the old saying goes, "Those who are talking aren't doing.' In the meantime, the Obama campaign never talked about strategy and instead concentrated on winning.

"Early in the campaign, in February 2008, when Hillary was still the front runner and should have been cool and collected, TV caught her fussing and fuming over some Obama flyers she didn't like, making her look less-than presidential from the get-go," Bike recalled. "Her surrogates acting like she already had the nomination sewn up and turning angry when things weren't going her way turned people off, too. That drove undecideds and even some Hillary supporters into the Obama camp.

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"It then quickly became clear the Clinton campaign didn't understand various states' caucus and slating session laws, and the Obama campaign did," Bike noted.

Bike also recalled that the Hillary Clinton campaign managed to alienate the influential Kennedy family during the 2008 campaign, despite the longstanding ties between the Kennedys and the Clintons. "The Clinton campaign credited some of President John F. Kennedy's achievements to President Lyndon Johnson, so angering the Kennedys that they came out for Obama," Bike recalled.

"Her slogan, "Ready from Day One to be a great president,' essentially was George H.W. Bush's slogan in 1988--not a candidate with whom the Clinton team needed to associate.

"Then when all these errors piled up, the Clinton campaign started blaming the media instead of its own operation, thereby increasing negative media coverage of her," Bike said.

So does that mean Hillary Clinton won't be a viable presidential candidate in 2016?

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"I think she could be a great candidate--if she learns from the mistakes of 2008," Bike said. "I'd be amazed if she didn't. She's not only smart, but a student of history as well."

Bike compared Clinton's situation to that of Richard Nixon in 1968.

"When Nixon ran for president in 1960, a lot of veterans of President Dwight Eisenhower's campaigns were driving Nixon's campaign, and perhaps he wasn't well served by the president's men running the show," Bike said. "In 1968, Nixon had his own guys calling the shots, and he won.

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William S. Bike is Senior Vice President of ANB Communications, a communications consulting and political consulting firm based in Chicago. Bike has worked in journalism, public relations, and politics since 1979 and is the former Communications (more...)

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