Alex Conant, Marco Rubio’s communications director during his presidential race, recently sat down with the Huffington Post to discuss the campaign.
Conant: “Look, I think what we saw last night (June 7) is what we’re going to see from the Clinton campaign every day from now until November. Which is, they’re going to make this election a referendum on whether or not you want a woman in the White House. Not whether or not you want Hillary Clinton in the White House. I think that’s her only message.
Huffington Post: Do you think it plays?
Conant: It’s better than asking people to vote for Hillary.
This illuminating conversation took place the day after the California and New Jersey primaries, when Clinton picked up enough delegates to become the presumptive nominee after focusing heavily on being the first female candidate of a major political party.
In sync with Conant’s observation, Hillary triumphantly claimed the Democratic nomination, focusing on the “first woman” theme.
“Thanks to you, we’ve reached a milestone, the first time in our nation’s history that a woman will be a major party’s nominee,” she announced to applause at a campaign event at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Responding in lockstep, media across the country announced Hillary’s victories with stories emphasizing that she would be the first woman to win a major party’s presidential nomination:
Clinton claims milestone as first female major-party nominee, wins California primary. Los Angeles Times
Hillary Clinton’s historic moment. Hillary Clinton — former first lady, former U.S. senator, and former secretary of state — has become the first woman to capture a major-party nomination for president. CNN
‘History made’: Clinton claims nomination. Hillary Clinton triumphantly claimed the Democratic nomination for president on Tuesday, calling for party unity to stop Donald Trump as she became the first woman in U.S. history to lead a major-party ticket. Politico
Hillary Clinton becomes first female presidential nominee from a major party after securing enough delegates. Daily News.
Following the party line, when Oprah Winfrey endorsed Hillary for President on June 7 (Wow! That was a surprise), she highlighted that it is time for voters to elect the nation’s first female president.
“I’m with her,” she told Nancy O’Dell of ‘Entertainment Tonight’. “It’s a seminal moment for women. What this says is that there is no ceiling. That ceiling has gone ‘boom,’ you know?”
It’s no secret that Hillary is a damaged and flawed candidate, so the “first woman” approach makes a lot of sense.
Her e-mail scandal may be fairly recent, but she is associated with decades of personal and political blunders and scandals that have led a high level of Clinton fatigue among the public.
“She has always been awkward and uninspiring on the stump,” a senior Democratic consultant once told the Washington Post. “Hillary has Bill’s baggage and now her own as secretary of state — without Bill’s personality, eloquence or warmth.”
The Democratic party has also known for a very long time it is confronting a serious Hillary trust gap.
In a July 2015 Quinnipiac University national poll, 57 percent of respondents said Clinton is not honest and trustworthy, one of the worst scores among all the top candidates at the time. In a subsequent Quinnipiac University poll, “liar” was the first word that came to mind more than any other in an open-ended question when voters were asked what they thought of Clinton, followed by “dishonest” and “untrustworthy”.
In a more recent Washington Post-ABC News national poll, 57 percent of people said they didn’t believe Hillary was honest and trustworthy.
But Hillary’s problems as a candidate go even deeper than that.
“Voters see her as an extraordinarily cynical, power-hungry insider,” James Poulos said in The Week magazine on Feb. 2. “She is out for herself, not out for Americans. Voters know it.”
This ties in with a wide perception that Hillary and Bill are just plain greedy, what with them hauling off $190,000 worth of china, flatware, rugs, televisions, sofas and other gifts when they moved out of the White House, taking money from all sorts of unsavory people and foreign countries for their Foundation, and charging exorbitant amounts for speeches.
David Axelrod, a political consultant for Obama, noted in his book, “Believer”, that Hillary has two other main weaknesses: she’s a polarizing rather than a “healing figure,” and she has a hard time selling herself as the “candidate of the future” given her checkered past and long political resume.
So here we are, facing the possibility Hillary will become the “first woman” president not because of, but despite, herself (and maybe because her opponent is another deeply flawed candidate).
Just goes to show that Clarence Darrow was right. “When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President; I’m beginning to believe it,” he said.