FACE OFF: As Clinton camp reassesses the threat posed by Sanders, the rhetoric heats up.
The New York Times reports
on an event in New Hampshire yesterday in which Bill Clinton
went on the offensive against Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders:
“When you’re making a revolution you can’t be too careful with the facts,” Mr. Clinton said, deriding Mr. Sanders’s oft-mentioned call for a political revolution.
The former president, addressing a few hundred supporters at a junior high school here, portrayed his wife’s opponent for the Democratic nomination as hypocritical, “hermetically sealed” and dishonest.
He even likened an incident last year, in which Sanders staffers obtained access to Clinton campaign voter data, to stealing a car with the keys in the ignition.
Bill was especially harsh in condemning Sanders supporters who relentlessly attack Hillary Clinton, often using misogynist terms.
“She and other people who have gone online to defend Hillary, to explain why they supported her, have been subject to vicious trolling and attacks that are literally too profane often, not to mention sexist, to repeat," he was quoted as saying.
In another development over the weekend sure to raise the blood pressure of Sanders acolytes, feminist legend Gloria Steinem
and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
— two 20th-century titans of female accomplishment — condemned young women who choose Bernie over Hillary, using less-than-politic language. The Washington Post reports
Steinem apologized Sunday for saying on a TV appearance Friday night that younger women were supporting Sanders because “the boys are with Bernie.” On Saturday, Albright drew criticism for saying that “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other,” even though she has expressed that sentiment many times before.
This is in the context of new polling from New Hampshire that shows Sanders with a commanding lead over Clinton among women in that state.
OK, two things. First, the rising rhetorical temperature of the Democratic primary calls to mind 2008, when Hillary's campaign began lashing out at Barack Obama after unexpected setbacks. Then, as now, many voters were turned off by a perceived sense of entitlement in the Clinton camp — a sort of disbelieving fury that Democrats would dare to turn their back on the party's First Family.
That sentiment helped drive undecided voters away in 2008. In 2016, a year in which anti-establishment attitudes are at a fever pitch across partisan lines, anything that reinforces the feeling that the primary is a Hillary coronation will threaten to sour undecideds as well.
Second: There are a lot of those undecided voters on the Democratic side. As an example, just look at the Hendrix / Talk Business poll
of the Arkansas electorate released yesterday. A full 18 percent of Arkansas Dems said they're uncertain about who to vote for, versus 6 percent of Arkansas Republicans. To be clear, Hillary is virtually certain to win Arkansas on March 1 — but in states with closer margins, there's a real chance that going after Sanders (and his supporters) too aggressively might only drive undecided Dems into his arms.