hillary’s huckabee strategy

Posted on March 2, 2008


When you are down on campaign funds in comparison to your political opponents and not getting the kind of positive media attention to help your quest to be your party’s presidential candidate, what do you do?

You do it the ingenious Mike Huckabee way — by hitting talk shows, comedy shows and other hot shows on television that cost your campaign nothing, reach a few million viewers easily and best of all, make you seem fun and cool.

Hillary Clinton, the besieged former Democratic front-runner now battling for political survival in the presidential race, has taken a leaf off Huckabee’s clever strategy, by scheduling appearances on not just one, but two big shows in the run-up to the big primary battles of Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island and Vermont next Tuesday.

It is a bonus to the Clinton campaign that the two shows, Saturday Night Live and The Daily Show, have hip reputations and appeal to younger audiences, the very demographic that has so far eluded her but have been flocking resolutely to her rival, Illinois Senator Barack Obama.

Tonight, the New York Senator appeared on SNL before an appreciative and supportive New York crowd, making fun of herself while taking the digs directed at her by the cast with good humor. Incidentally, Huckabee was on SNL just a week ago.

When the actress Amy Poehler, who played Clinton, mimicked her much-scrutinized and ridiculed laugh to stall upon being dealt a tough question, Clinton asked if she really did laugh that way, and laughingly conceded that she did.

Clinton scored another when she told Poehler that she was happy to be back in New York and there would not be politics involved. But in the next breath, she drew laughs when she said she wanted to give a shout-out to the people in the states of Texas, Ohio, and all other places that would soon be holding Democratic primaries.

She clearly seemed to be comfortable and enjoying herself in a show that she feels has been on her side. During the debate in Ohio earlier this week against Obama, Clinton had cited one of the show’s skits to highlight her point that the media has been rougher on her than Obama.

On Monday, she will be on Jon Stewart’s wildly-popular The Daily Show. While it might not be as friendly a territory as SNL, it would be another chance for the candidate to show a lighter side of herself, and perhaps connect better with potential voters on the night before the crucial races.

What Clinton really needs now is to allow potential voters to see her not as the disciplined but emotionless politician, but as a personable human being. Just like her watery eyes, choked-up moment pre-New Hampshire primary, those rare displays of emotions could sway undecided voters towards her and energize those who are already persuaded that she should be the party’s nominee.

And she does need every vote that might go her way now.