Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton addresses the ‘King Day at the Dome’ rally outside the South Carolina Statehouse in Columbia, Jan. 18. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Clinton increasingly seems stuck in the past, dogged by wilting poll numbers and heavy baggage.
Presidential races are about the future and Hillary Clinton is stuck in the past. That pretty much explains why her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 has slumped.
Mrs. Clinton is not attuned to the political situation she faces. Her experience, family and fame aren’t much help. This year, angry voters have turned increasingly to populist, antiestablishment and future-oriented candidates. As a status quo candidate, she doesn’t fit the moment.
But her chief opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders, has captured it, just as Donald Trump has in the Republican presidential race. Mr. Sanders, 74, is a socialist from Vermont with a Brooklyn accent. But more than his left-wing ideology, it is his persistent calls for a “revolution” upending conventional politics that have brought him neck-and-neck with Mrs. Clinton in Iowa and ahead in New Hampshire, the first states to vote in the fight for the Democratic nomination.
We saw the difference between the two in Sunday night’s Democratic debate. She talked about preserving President Obama’s health-care program and the Dodd-Frank crackdown on Wall Street—in other words, the past. Mr. Sanders spoke of a future in which health care is inexpensive and a right for everyone, a future in which the wealthy cannot control politics with their campaign contributions and elect their allies.
For months Mr. Sanders has attracted bigger crowds than Mrs. Clinton and stirred more excitement. She and her strategists underestimated Mr. Sanders’s appeal, the strength of his campaign and his ability to raise money. They also overestimated Mrs. Clinton’s skill as a candidate.
Michael Warren, my Weekly Standard colleague, summarized her visit to Iowa earlier this month: “There’s no other way to say it: Hillary Clinton is very boring. The Democratic presidential front-runner’s campaign stops are, too. The members of her traveling press corps look like they’d rather be anywhere else. So do some of the attendees, who shift in their seats starting around minute 10. Even the campaign staffers pace the back of the room or tap inattentively on their iPhones as Clinton drones on.”
Mrs. Clinton’s past was expected to be a great benefit to her campaign. It hasn’t been. To begin with, her husband, former President Bill Clinton, has turned into an albatross. In an interview with the Des Moines Register just before Christmas, Mrs. Clinton said Donald Trump has “demonstrated a penchant for sexism.”
Mr. Trump answered on Twitter: “Hillary, when you complain about a ‘penchant for sexism,’ who are you referring to? BE CAREFUL.” He followed by recalling her husband’s history of womanizing, accusing him of “a terrible record of women abuse.” Mr. Trump warned her against using the “woman’s card” against him.