Hillary Clinton: Poor Strategy In Fighting “Change”

Senator Obama has clung on to the theme of “change” and seems to be clearly working in his favor. The reasons are simple. He hardly has a record to criticize or find fault with in Washington. On the most important issue of the Iraq war he has been steadfast in his opposition from the very beginning. So, given the poor opinion poll ratings of Congress and the President himself, Obama surely has a strong case for change. Besides, it is easy to brand Hillary’s 35-years of experience claim as being part of the Washington establishment that needs change, thereby bolstering his case for change.

Hillary and her team have been fighting Obama’s change theme quite poorly. Bill Clinton struggles hard to position her as the “agent of change“. She herself says that this election is not about choosing “change over experience”and in the very same ad she talks about why her experience can bring about change, sounding rather defensive. By stating that this election is not about choosing change over experience she is making this election precisely about that!

Ironically, Senator Obama is drawing heavily from Bill Clinton’s strategy in 1992 where he positioned himself as the candidate of change while his opponent George Bush Sr. stood for experience. In fact, Bill Clinton argued then about the right kind of experience and the wrong kind of experience referring to the same old Washington way of doing things. The big difference though was that Bill Clinton had the experience of having been Governor in Arkansas and backed up his claim by touting his track record.

Perhaps Hillary Clinton’s best possible response to this might be to accept that Senator Obama has a good story to tell on the change front. She should go to the extent of stating that her husband come to power using precisely this theme. However, she and her husband soon realized that change in Washington is easier said than done. There is a learning curve involved in bringing about change in Washington and she has first hand experience of facing the challenges of attempting to bring about change. This would clearly be a much more creditable and genuine argument as opposed to touting her questionable 35-years of experience.

Its hard to imagine that a master strategist like Bill Clinton and all the high-priced consultants on the Hillary campaign are unable to work up a better strategy. In fact, Bill Clinton lost a golden opportunity on the Charlie Rose show to accept that the change theme works but has a learning curve involved once you get to Washington.

Author: Pran Kurup

Pran Kurup is founder and CEO of Vitalect, Inc.

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