On the Trail, Which Clinton to Invite?

What to do when your book tour starts to wind down? Try shifting to print interviews.

Or so it seems with Hillary Clinton, who shows up for a q&a on career advice in the September edition of Glamour (available on newsstands next Tuesday, but sooner via tablet).

As per the norm with the ever-cautious former Secretary of State/Senator/First Lady, there’s not much news of note in an interview that goes out of its way to avoid the various sand traps that Hillary found her way into during the book tour (the Russia reset button, being “dead broke”, etc.). Mrs. Clinton says relationships matter in politics, women shouldn’t hesitate to go for it if holding office is what they want, and she likes to mentor really smart, really loyal young folk.

Here’s a question: by sitting down with Glamour, Hillary without doubt is reaching out to a female demographic. But what happens in the next few weeks when female candidates call on her to join them in the campaign trail?

There has been a Clinton stumping for Democratic women in 2014. But it’s Bill, not Hillary. Earlier this week, in fact, he was in Kentucky to campaign for Alison Lundergan Grimes, who’s trying to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

 . . . One advantage to being a female candidate in Kentucky: thanks to Neil Diamond, your campaign theme music’s a no-brainer . . .

“I’m not an empty dress! I’m not a cheerleader! I’m not a rubber stamp! But one label I will proudly wear is that of a Clinton Democrat,” Grimes told a fundraiser crowd. And while she didn’t bother to preface “Clinton” with a “Bill”, it was clear she was referring to the 42nd president and not the woman who may try to become America’s 45th president.

Which begs the question: will Hillary come to Kentucky, or handful of other southern states that will determine the Senate’s fate this fall? That would include a pair of female Democratic incumbents in tough races: Mary Landrieu, in Louisiana, and Kay Hagan in North Carolina.

Or, does Mrs. Clinton play it safe and campaign for, say, Sen Jeanne Shaheen up north in New Hampshire and a race that’s a lot more promising for the Democratic incumbent — a state, by the way, that was very kind to Hillary back in 2008.

Getting back to Kentucky: Bill Clinton carried the Blue Grass State in 1992 (he captured 44% of the vote and won by 3%, thanks to Ross Perot siphoning off over 13%) and again in 1996 by less than 1% against Bob Dole. After that, Democrats haven’t come with 15% of winning the state (Barack Obama lost twice by an average of over 20%). So there’s something to “42” coming back to Kentucky as the party’s shaman — well, that and the fact that the man loves to golf and socialize and bask in praise and the campaign appearance just happened to coincide with Clinton’s receiving an award at this week’s PGA Championship.

So if one Clinton’s already welcome in Kentucky, why not have Hillary stop by for a julep and some jawing — after all, she did win 65% of the vote in the state’s 2008 Democratic presidential primary. Here’s why:

1) Whereas her husband is synonymous with centrist Democratic politics, she’s not. Her 2008 presidential run lurched in all sort of directions; so too would a 2016 campaign. It’s too early for Mrs. Clinton to figure where she is on pipelines and carbon emissions and what not.

2) She doesn’t have her husband’s charm/chutzpah/ability to twist any argument in his favor — in this case, venturing into Eastern Kentucky’s coal country and convincing voters that it makes perfect sense to vote for a Democratic senator who’ll be a proxy for a Democratic administration that seems anti-anthracite.

On that note, we’ll see if President Clinton tries to work his magic in West Virginia, where Republican Senate candidate Shelly Moore Capito is linking her opponent to the Obama “war on coal” (that would be Democrat Natalie Tennant, a decided long shot).

Here’s a Capito ad, released last month:

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This entry was posted in Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Kentucky, U.S. Senate. Bookmark the permalink.

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