That’s the unspoken idea behind some of the critiques of Hillary Clinton’s premature campaign by Obama’s people.
Top advisers and former aides to Barack Obama say Hillary Clinton is repeating the mistakes she made in 2008, building a machine in lieu of a message and lumbering toward the Democratic nomination with the same deep vulnerabilities that cost her the nomination eight years earlier.
The former secretary of state has offered her tacit blessing to a series of Democratic organizations, including a draft group, Ready for Hillary, which was recently taken over by a former Clinton aide, and Priorities USA Action, the Obama super PAC repositioning itself to raise huge sums for Clinton. The moves have been effective in telegraphing to other would-be candidates that they may have a hard time raising money and building an organization, and in establishing the sense of inevitability that was central to her 2008 campaign — a perception that also backfired badly.
In 2008, that sense of inevitability had tactical consequences: her positions drew more scrutiny than her rivals’, and observers developed a rooting interest in the underdog, while donors and operatives who hadn’t gotten in on the Clinton ground floor 20 years earlier went elsewhere. And Obama aides, who outmaneuvered the Clinton juggernaut seven years ago, see similar weaknesses developing already.
“I just don’t see any strategic value in stories positioning her as inevitable or the preemptive nominee, and I don’t think people who are out there talking about this help her, and I think she should make that clear,” said Joel Benenson, Obama’s chief campaign pollster and now the top White House pollster. “She doesn’t need this. If she decides to run for president, everybody knows she’s going to be able to raise money, everybody knows she’s going to be extremely formidable, that she’s going to have a significant network of supporters around the country — so what’s the value of all this in 2014?”
The value is deterring opposition. It didn’t really work in 2008, but this time Hillary Clinton thinks she has the left’s blessing, Obama anointed her as the candidate for 2016 in exchange for her husband campaigning and lying for him in 2012.
But Hillary is an insecure control freak so she isn’t leaving anything to chance.
“I see real similarities emerging in terms of carrying the mantle of the status quo, getting out front too soon — and playing it safe. The GOP is so messed up it might work — but running this way could be the way she loses again,” said Joe Trippi, a top adviser to Edwards.
That air of inevitability proved a particular problem in the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire, where activists expect to be courted; and when Ready for Hillary arrived in Des Moines last month, it wasn’t clear who was supposed to be making the first move.
“All this stuff about her being destined to be [the nominee], and it coming from top-down, and being ordained — we’ve really got to work hard to overcome that. It’s got to be grassroots up,” said Phyllis Peters, a 55-year-old resident of Ames, Iowa, who volunteered for her 2008 campaign.
“Everybody has to earn it,” said Peters. “You can’t assume it’s been given to you on a silver platter.”
The whole point of Ready for Hillary is the silver platter. There’s nothing grassroots about Clintonworld. This was a campaign that had been planned as soon as Bill left the White House. The move to New York, the perfect place to meet and hook up with wealthy backers outside California which had two sitting Democratic senators, and prep the ground for the White House.