So what should the Democrat candidates do?

December 7, 2007

TPT advises the Donkeys


I’m going to repeat the exercise that I did with the Republican candidates. In addition to the three leaders (Hillary, Obama and Edwards) I’ll also look at Biden and Richardson.

Hillary Clinton – Hillary needs to do three things. Firstly, Hillary needs to stop flailing around in her attacks on Obama. Bringing up his ambitions as a toddler, even as a joke, made her seem ridiculous and desperate. In fact she should stop directly attacking him altogether and let her network of surrogates do the dirty work of destroying Obama for her. At the same time she needs to stress her experience, and her battle hardened nature, two things that Barack Obama clearly doesn’t have. Finally, she needs to show that she can connect with ordinary voters. This means lots of pressing the flesh, stumping in diners and following the rituals of retail politics. It also means showing a sense of humour and appearing slightly less robotic.

Barack Obama – Obama has two main problems. Firstly, while there are plenty of reasons for not voting for Hillary, there are few positive resons to vote for him. The second problem is that he is woefully inexperienced. Instead of focusing on foreign policy, Obama needs to spell out some workable domestic programmes while avoiding Edwards’ trap of going too far into left-field. Obama also needs to start emphasising his record as a Senator and his bipartisan achievements as a state legislator in Illinois. Neither of them are particularly distinguished, but he desperately needs to develop some protection against the charge of being inexperienced.

John Edwards – As I have said before only McCain’s campaign has been run in a worse manner. However, like McCain Edwards’ expectations have been reduced so much that a win in Iowa (like a win for McCain in New Hampshire) might be a shot in the arm for his candidacy. Given a longer timespasn Edwards could move back to being the mild populist he was in 2004, rather than a candidate who looks like a throwback to George McGovern. However, he needs to avoid getting involved in the Obama/Clinton dogfight and concentrate on increasing turnout and stressing economic issues. He should also try to stay away from the Obama/Clinton dogfight and emphasise that both candidates seem more interested in fighting the culture wars than getting important legislation passed.

Joe Biden – If Biden has any chance at all it is as a credible and experienced alternative to Clinton. He needs to keep stressing his experience on both economic and foreign policy and hope that Clinton and Obama make each other unelectable. Pointing out that he is probably the most (in relative terms) moderate on foreign policy might also differentiate himself from the crowd and attract centrist voters (though he is obviously still anti-war).

Bill Richardson – Richardson needs to admit to himself that he is going to be humiliated in Iowa. Instead of fighting a pointless battle, he needs to hold a press conference decrying Iowa’s influence and withdrawing from the Hawkeye state. He should then attack the rest of the field for ignoring the West and announce that he will concentrate on the Nevada caucus. Although this will probably get him a lot of criticism for wasting millions in Iowa he will gain some publicity and ensure that he faces his Waterloo in an area where he has a clear shot at Hillary. The additional bonus would be that if Hillary beats Obama and Edwards, he will be the only alternative to her.


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