The chinks in Hillary Clinton’s once impenetrable armor have been found. Hillary’s opponents have been able to link her stand – or lack thereof – on issues to reinforce voter’s doubts about her honesty and electability. Doubts about her positions on Iraq and Iran and her inability to provide straightforward answers on issues such as social security, access to her White House records, and driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants have led to what seems like her first losing media cycle of the campaign. Even her husband – usually a media darling – seemed to stumble as he attempted to defend his wife from ramped up criticism.
What should also concern Hillary are voter’s negative perceptions of her. Polls continue to show her with negatives in the mid to high forties; higher than any of her rivals. Specifically, the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that 43% of voters had a negative perception of her honesty. This seems to indicate that the criticisms are having an effect.
Fueling these doubts are questions about her character and her electability and these are the points her opponents are driving home. Organizations like Stop Her Now have been raising the issue of access to White House documents for months, but it was only after the debate that it became an issue in the campaign.
Hillary’s need to placate the liberal base has also begun to trip her up. In questions on giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants Hillary faced a choice between a simple answer and offending key voters. Yes would have left her vulnerable since as much as 77% of the public are opposed to the idea. No, however, would have put her at odds with the liberal Democratic base that supports unrestricted immigration and benefits for illegals.
Hillary’s solution was to straddle and hedge, but she couldn’t pull it off.
What her recent stumbles reveal is that Hillary is vulnerable. She is attempting a precarious balancing act. She needs to attract and hold the support of liberals while at the same time leaving room to move to the center. But this requires a finesse that Hillary, unlike her husband, lacks. Every time she tries to avoid being pinned down on difficult issues like social security, immigration, and taxes she highlights doubts about her honesty and voter’s trust. Doubts her opponents are sure to reinforce.
And the more these attacks tarnish Hillary’s inevitability the more doubts are raised about her electability. During the debate Senator Chris Dodd spoke openly about Hillary’s un-electability and continues to discuss it on the campaign trail. The more these doubts are discussed the more chance they have to grow.
The only way to stop Hillary is to continue to apply the pressure and keep the focus on Hillary’s weaknesses. Hillary is a committed and experienced campaigner with millions of dollars on hand; she won’t go down without a fight.
But the last few weeks have shown that she is anything but invincible.
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