Clinton Tries to Buff Her Image

Hillary Clinton Delights in ‘Party of Trump’ at DNC Meeting
Amid more bad news, Hillary Clinton is looking for ways to make herself more likable and improve her favorability ratings with the public and with liberals.

The latest NBC News/Marist poll finds that Clinton has fallen behind Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont in the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary, and Sanders is gaining on her in the first-in-the-nation caucus state of Iowa.

Forty-one percent of Democratic voters back Sanders in New Hampshire, compared with 32 percent for Clinton. Sixteen percent are for Vice President Joe Biden (who is considering a presidential run but hasn’t decided yet). No other Democratic candidate receives more than 1 percent. Without Biden in the race, Sanders’ lead is even bigger in New Hampshire, 11 percentage points, at 49 to 38.

In July, the results in New Hampshire were reversed, with Clinton ahead of Sanders, 42 to 32, and Biden at 12 percent.

In Iowa, the NBC/Marist poll finds that Clinton leads Sanders, 38 to 27, with Biden at 20 percent and everyone else at 4 percent or less. But Clinton is fading. In July, Clinton led Sanders by 49 to 25.

Despite the Sanders inroads, Clinton has resisted directly criticizing him (and he has resisted criticizing her). Instead, Clinton has gone after Republican front-runner Donald Trump. Most recently, campaigning in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Clinton took a swipe at Trump’s statement that he “cherishes” women. “If it’s all the same to you, Mr. Trump, I’d rather you stop cherishing women and start respecting women,” Clinton said. She added: “Other candidates may be out there hurling insults at everyone, talking about what’s wrong with America and who’s to blame for it, but I’m going to keep doing what I’ve always done: Fight for you and fight for your families.”

Clinton also intends to increase her policy pronouncements to give her bid more gravitas and appeal to liberals. To those ends, she will unveil a campaign finance proposal Tuesday, according to Politico and other news media.

And Clinton hopes to show more humor and self deprecation in an effort to improve her overall popularity, the New York Times reports.

But it’s unclear if such tactics will reverse her slide. Many Americans doubt her honesty and trustworthiness, according to the polls, and she has seemed less than candid in explaining her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state for President Barack Obama, the latest sustained controversy to bedevil her.

“Hillary is in big trouble, even in her own party,” says Sean Spicer, chief strategist for the Republican National Committee. Overall, the public lacks confidence and trust in Clinton and this has become “a major obstacle” for her, Spicer tells me. “In the Democratic party, they are yearning for a credible alternative” to Clinton, Spicer says.

Democratic strategists agree that Clinton is in a slump but they note that she is still in a strong position to win her party’s nomination. This is partly because she is still popular among many core Democrats across the country, especially women, and partly because she has strong organizations and lots of money to spend in the major primary states next year, which follow the early tests in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.

And Clinton has a bit of history on her side from 16 years ago. Then-Sen. Bill Bradley of New Jersey, an insurgent, was ahead of then-Vice President Al Gore of Tennessee, the early front-runner, in New Hampshire during September 1999. But by the time actual votes were cast a few months later, Bradley lost to Gore in New Hampshire and this put him on the road to defeat.


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