Friday, September 11, 2015

Hillary Clinton tries to show that her record is more than just talk

The Debrief: An occasional series offering a reporter’s insights

By Karen Tumulty September 10 at 9:00 AM, WashPost

For nearly a quarter-century, Hillary Rodham Clinton has played an outsized role in the nation’s consciousness as an advocate and a political survivor. Her presidential campaign’s favorite way to describe her is as “a fighter.”

But something surprising has emerged in public opinion about the former first lady, senator and secretary of state. Asked to name something tangible that Clinton has actually accomplished, many voters come up blank.

In polls and focus groups, Republicans are sensing a vulnerability in Clinton’s record that could compound the difficulties she is facing with the controversy over her decision as secretary of state to use a private e-mail account and server rather than a government one.

When Bloomberg News posed the question in May to a focus group of 10 Iowa Democrats, they praised Clinton for strength, experience and competence but could not recall a single thing she had done.

Some Democrats say that they have only a vague sense of Clinton’s actual accomplishments. Liberal activist Arnie Arnesen was the Democratic nominee for New Hampshire governor in 1992, and she often crossed paths with the Clintons as Bill Clinton made his first bid for the White House. But all these years later, Arnesen said: “I don’t really know Hillary. I know Hillary under Clinton. I know Hillary under Obama. And in the Senate she was a workhorse, not a show horse. What does that mean? It means she didn’t take a leadership role.”

(More here.)

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