Let’s be crystal clear. Hillary Clinton’s primary goal in speaking to millions of people during last weekend’s Democratic Debate was to address a single person: President Obama. She had been advised that if the President, Vice President Joe Biden, and other past and current members of the Administration didn’t support her, that she could lose. To win their support, she had to come out by promising to honor their work and keep it in play. She had to come out in defense of his legacy in order to get them on board with her campaign.
Don’t expect the President to come out publicly. Definitely expect members of his staff to hit the phones and let their allies know who should be getting endorsements and donations. This was smart politics for Clinton. It’s also exactly what the Republicans wanted to happen.
“We have the Affordable Care Act. That is one of the greatest accomplishments of President Obama, of the Democratic Party, and of our country,” she said.
You don’t have to memorize that line. It’s going to be hammered into our conscience almost as hard as her husband played on the phrase, “Read my lips. No new taxes.”
It is extremely difficult for a party in the modern era to maintain control of the White House following a two-term President. Al Gore was extremely popular following Bill Clinton, but he was outmaneuvered in the end. This is part of the ebb and flow of American politics to rotate both the executive and legislative branches to maintain a balance. It’s not coordinated necessarily, but dissent is easier to muster than support in a world where things are going wrong every day.
Hillary Clinton is hoping for a George H. W. Bush moment. While she would love to win the nomination and the Presidency based solely on her merits and policy proposals, she has decided to cave to the third-term effect. She’s hoping that President Obama’s popularity will carry over to her. She reluctantly hopes to win by being the only candidate who will defend President Obama’s actions and legacy and she has a plan to present the Republicans (and Bernie Sanders) as the people who will try to dismantle the “great things” that President Obama has done.
For Republicans, this simply adds to a growing list of attack points. They already have Benghazi, though it’s unclear whether or not that will be able to play well in the general election. They have the email controversy which will likely continue on until November. They have her complicity in Bill Clinton’s war on women which will definitely continue throughout whether it’s helpful or not. Now, we have her defending things that are clearly broken. It’s not exactly a coup for the Republicans, but it’s great fodder for the campaign strategists to consume.
It pains Clinton to have to resort to playing the “Obama Third Term” card. She really doesn’t like the guy and doesn’t want to ride his coattails, but it may be required for her to get the nomination quickly. That’s just fine with us. The more she attaches to Obama, the easier it will be for Republicans to take her down in November.