Thursday, April 09, 2015

Announcements of Announcements, and Announcements

So the moment is finally here. Business Insider, of all publications, breaks the news:
A source with knowledge of Hillary Clinton's plans has confirmed that she will officially announce her 2016 presidential bid on Saturday or Sunday. This will be imminently followed by campaign travel.
Not sure why Business Insider got it, but this will be rolled out in drips and there are at least a handful of detail scoops to go around.
The story is about an hour old as I write so I'm just speculating; by the time you read this I may already be wrong.

I don't know the psychology of Sunday talk shows well, but the precise timing of the announcement will be designed to thoroughly dominate those shows. My guess is that means late Sunday. Probably New York.

A first visit to either Iowa or New Hampshire, my bet is the latter, will happen precisely when Marco Rubio is making his long-planned, pre-announced, locked in announcement speech. Now, if that New Hampshire event includes the Elizabeth Warren endorsement, that's the dagger.

Iowa, presumably central Iowa, maybe Cedar Rapids (too much of the Quad Cities media market is Illinois) but definitely NOT the People's Republic of Johnson County, will be sometime Tuesday.  The venue, or at least A venue, will be designed to seem very open, yet at the same time minimize risk.

(UPDATE: As of Friday AM, they're now saying announcement Sunday noon followed by Iowa viit first, either later Sunday or early in week. All this is really distracting me from my actual Friday morning mission, Rand Paul.)

And in fairness, Mark Halperin today noted the logistical difficulties she faces:

Maybe a set speech followed by an "impromptu" stop at a friendly restaurant, with a low-key effort to get friends there. (My understanding is that's how the Hamburg Inn was done last fall. A few calls: "Go to the Burg NOW. Don't ask. GO." And by sheer coincidence the local REPUBLICAN chair was there, which only made it feel more legit.)

That's probably the advice the "supportive Iowa activists" Clinton campaign manager Robbie Mook and key player Marlon Marshall got at meetings last week in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids. (Despite the Jennifer Jacobs story I've yet to confirm that a meeting that was supposedly planned in Iowa City ever even happened.)

KCCI has some anonymous background:
Over dinner and drinks one night last week at Baratta's, a cozy Italian restaurant in Des Moines, two top visiting Clinton strategists listened as supportive Iowa activists issued a stark warning: Some Democrats are far less enthused about her candidacy than others. After placing third in the Iowa caucuses in 2008, they said she must ask for every vote as well as being willing to run a gauntlet of small events and take part in grueling campaign sessions across the state.

Robby Mook, the campaign manager, and Marlon Marshall, a top deputy, traveled from New York to Iowa and New Hampshire last week as Clinton's envoys. They hosted the dinner and other intimate events, hoping to show that a former First Lady, senator and Secretary of State was open to concern, constructive criticism and even complaints.

Tom Henderson, chairman of the Polk County Democratic Party in Iowa, said activists were hungry for a primary campaign or at least a serious conversation about issues facing the country and who would become President Obama's successor. He was not invited to the dinner last week because he intends to remain neutral in the race, but he said he has shared his views with Clinton confidantes.
I heard from an attendee at the Cedar Rapids meeting that the event was a mix of labor and elected officials.

But the Iowa City meeting appears to be a mystery, and I've been digging for details all week, annoying my friends to no end and no avail. Again: I still have no confirmation it even happened.

I do know that no one at our county central committee meeting last Thursday night, the day the Mook meeting was supposedly happening, knew anything beyond what was in the Register article. That includes the county chair, vice chair, several past chairs and three elected officials.

"If they plan on winning Iowa with only people that were Clinton delegates last time, they will not win," said Supervisor Rod Sullivan, a past county chair. (Sullivan was an early Obama supporter in 2007.)

Lesson in our local political culture: Closed door does not go over in Johnson County. We have a tradition of schlepping people who can't pay into fundraisers. To the extent that things need to happen behind closed doors, which is sometimes a reality, there's an expectation that there needs to be a corresponding open to all event so the rank and file can at least see and hear the big shot, if not get face time.

But 2015 is not 2007, and for her sake and Iowa's, I'm hoping that start is just a stumble and that Hillary Clinton's latest effort - not sure how many point oh's to list there - is an improvement, and that the staff listened to their own supporters.

My hot take is that Clinton timed this announcement to step on the surprise entrant into the race... former Rhode Island governor and senator Lincoln Chaffee?!?

If he follows through it'll be Chafee's first race as a Democrat. He was appointed and elected to the Senate as a Republican after his father died, lost re-election in 2006, then was elected governor as an independent in 2010. He joined the Democrats before his term ended, but did not run.

At first blink it looks like Chaffee wants to be The Peace Candidate:
In an interview with The Washington Post on Thursday, Chafee did not mince words when he said Clinton's 2002 Senate vote to authorize military action in Iraq should disqualify her from becoming commander in chief.

"I don't think anybody should be president of the United States that made that mistake," Chafee said. "It's a huge mistake and we live with broad, broad ramifications today — of instability not only in the Middle East but far beyond and the loss of American credibility. There were no weapons of mass destruction."

Chafee, who was a Republican at the time, was the only senator from his party to vote against the Iraq war authorization. "I did not make that mistake," he said.
Other Democratic proto-candidates seem to be carefully shying away from attacking Clinton by name, couching their critiques in economic terms. I think this sets Chafee up as Bad Cop. He makes the attack and gets blasted for it, but the attack, to the extent that it works, works for Good Cop instead (Martin O'Malley likely gets that role).

The limit to that may be Democratic Party identity politics.The gender card will be played hard and often.

The question is: is there a statute of limitations on the Iraq War vote? If Clinton had voted No, she'd be wrapping up her second term today. She knows it, Barack Obama knows it. That vote was his opening. But will Democratic caucus goers decide that delaying her presidency eight years is punishment enough?

But cynics note that Lincoln Chaffee may have other motivations:
In fairness: Elizabeth Warren just wrote a book too.

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