Clinton Campaign Conference Call


Hillary Rodham Clinton’s National Gallery portrait by Ginny Stanford
This morning, I was invited to a media call with Clinton campaign director Howard Wolfson and strategist Mark Penn.
It took forever for the call operator to get me on the call — more than 12 minutes waiting so missed the beginning of Wolfson’s statement.
But some of the general lines offered from Penn and Wolfson:

1. Hillary Clinton won more people who made their decisions on the very last day. Obama had momentum in the previous days — but then that broke towards Clinton in the final 24 hours, which is consistent with the Gallup Tracking Poll.
2. The Hallmark Channel “national town hall” and the Los Angeles debate seemed to matter. The Clinton campaign has called for more debates with Barack Obama — but Clinton’s team is unaware of any response thus far from the Obama camp.
3. Obama’s momentum was broken. Clinton bounced back to significant victory in places like California and Massachusetts.
4. Results in Missouri important. Hillary won 110 of 115 rural districts in Missouri — debunking the myth that she can’t win in rural areas.
5. She also showed that she is competitive in attracting youth. Clinton won the youth vote in California and Massachusetts.
6. There were very strong increases in turnout in groups that support Hillary — women and Latinos. Debunking the claim that only Obama is driving new voters to the polls, Clinton is driving increased numbers to the polls in these categories.
7. Economy is top issue. Clinton won on her concerns about America’s economic situation and her health care proposal.
8. Overall, people rejected the increasingly “establishment oriented” campaign of Barack Obama — and accepted her more “substantive campaign.” This comment was made by Mark Penn.
9. From a delegate perspective, the campaign’s goal was to be ahead in terms of super delegates and regular delegates. Currently, Clinton is in the lead in yesterday’s race by just 1 delegate. Both candidates will be within 5 or 6 delegates of each other when the counting is finished. Yesterday was a draw in terms of delegates. Hillary remains ahead in overall delegate count.
10. Ben Smith from Politico asked if the Clinton’s had loaned some of their own money to the campaign. Wolfson did not know and would be back to the media with a definitive answer.
11. Andrea Mitchell just jumped on the call — and like me was in conference call purgatory waiting a very long time to get on — and missing much of the prepared commentary from Wolfson and Penn.
12. In the next few days, the Clinton campaign expects Obama to do well in other states — but Clinton will also take a large delegate haul.
13. Mark Penn said that they will have sufficient funds to continue to compete with Obama in various political markets — even though they expect to be “outspent” like they were yesterday.
14. Hillary Clinton won a ton of districts in Missouri and nearly won the state — despite Senator Claire McCaskill’s endorsement of Obama. Clinton seems to be overcoming some of the slew of endorsements that Barack Obama had from leading personalities in Massachusetts, California, and nearly in Missouri.
15. Mark Penn made a comment (that I’m not sure I agree with) that Obama has in the past week been running on “establishment” positions — and Hillary Clinton in contrast has been running on change in economic policy and change in health care. (I think that this is a leap — but it is interesting that this is the kind of spin Mark Penn wants out there.)

More later. I hope to be invited to participate on an Obama conference call — but not sure at this point.
— Steve Clemons


17 comments on “Clinton Campaign Conference Call

  1. karenk says:

    I wanna see a woman in the white house(maybe paint it pink)… considering this country’s long standing history of “all boys clubs” in business education and opportunity, to criticize me for thinking this is hypocritical…her politics are as well in line with mine as any candidate of course, this is prerequisite even to gender when chosing a president…I have confidence she can do the job.


  2. Mr.Murder says:

    1) The first point made, people who are late to decisions usually base their choices on prior success. Thus, Hillary has value in her name status.
    2)The townhall was quite an item, Cox cable here denied showing the event, no shock there.
    3)Mass. you could make that claim, Cali was never his to begin with.
    4)The Missouri results included a pretty hard storm through its southeastern section, resulting in poll closings, etc. this affected Clinton numbers, allowing McCaskill to weigh influence into play at later reporting locations. The rural returns indicate she was still able to win in the very western sectors as well, something that shows much promise for running nationally. Huckabee has reason to fear that vote sector as well…
    5)The youth vote is a big claim of theirs. This seems a repeat of their mailer but is certainly worth closer scrutiny, as major point.
    6)The increased turnout isn’t as much about either candidate, as it is the dramatic and radical motivation provided by the failure of GWB.
    7)Those items seem important, people vote their wallets. Short effective bullet points.
    8)Both campaigns are establishment oriented to make this level, the non denial is shadows the prime point of importance, substance matters. You not Penn said this, the other points were made by whom?
    9)She’s ahead in the delegate count by their total, was this including Lieberman’s lost vote for Obama coming from CT?
    10)Ben Smith of Politico, the source for many Obama entries to the conversation, gets into the Clinton funding? We’ll be certain to see how much he takes the same kind of scrutiny to the Obama campaign that his website talks with on a regular basis.
    11)A picture of your eleventh point would look like Bosch in HD.
    12)It is what it is.
    13)Outspent three to one and still major state winners.
    14)The Missouri returns are impressive overall in areas one would expect the corssover burnback to be greatest against her. A true accomplishment, IMO.
    15)Change would be a return to normalcy at this point. Bush introduced radical change in rolling back items to the robber baron days.


  3. Mr.Murder says:

    16. In a stunning comeback, HRC only lost Connecticut by about 3%.
    Part of that comeback includes Joe Lieberman’s loss of superdelegate status.
    Oh, another stunning comeback, the Kerry and Kennedy endorsements lost Mass.


  4. Mr.Murder says:

    A narrative? How about bedtime story with milk and cookies also? Hillary can run because she’s qualified and knows how things run. That there should more “there” to something is ridiculous. Do you ask a doctor why they got into medicine before getting a script filled? Do you interview firemen before they can put a housefire out to make certain their motivations of getting a job paying that much were not selfish? What exactly makes those gears click that you need evidence of a narrative, when most Americans want a President who can see that bridges stay together and that schools teach students.


  5. Mr.Murder says:

    Did Penn or Wolfson invite any Obama partisans to participate on the call? Just curious.
    -Politico was there, that counts for Obama.
    They seem to contact one another often on points against Clinton.


  6. Carroll says:

    Well, I am curious about Howard Dean’s comment that he would make either Hillary or Obama “withdraw’ from the race so the dem party would not “fracture” like the GOP is doing between MCCain and Romney.
    Can he “make’ one of them “withdraw’?
    Frankly if the gop is fracturing I say hooray! I will get even more excited when the dem party fractures. I want them both to fracture, split up and fall apart.
    If one candidate is made to withdraw can he or she run on another ticket and stay in the race? Not that either would but could they?
    I could envision herding everyone I know to the polls to vote for Obama if he had the balls to do something like that. The time is definitely ripe.


  7. Steve Clemons says:

    note to ben rosengart — not sure what led you to think i was doing solid reporting. i wouldn’t even call what i had up solid stenography — but didn’t claim this was anything but a quick roster of some of what was said on the call. i’ve been crazed today with a lot of other work and just didn’t have time to add more than what I put up — but still figured that the post-election commentary from some of the principals would be interesting in and of itself.
    sorry if i somehow mislead — but reading what i wrote again, i don’t see that I said that this was serious reporting anywhere.
    best, steve


  8. jim miller says:

    1. How much did B illary loan the campaign from their personal fortune, which has been built in the last 8 yrs….
    2. Where has their 50million fortune come from? who are the contibutors or so called “business partners”?
    3. Besides the last name what are the differences between the bushes and clinton’s? verry little but please provide evidence of significant difference….
    4. Mark Penn, the person who lead the call, has participated in what form of union busting/attacking in his private sector life….which part of the clinton platform will address this….3 decades of anit working/middle class actvity from candiate and advisor….is this what was/is referenced by her being the anti establishment canidate?
    5. If Senator Obama’s campaign was broke what would your blog’s take be? How long ago would you have declared her the winner…300 pify words eloquently written about his attempt to win the nomination were turned back by the Clinton machine…
    I think HRC has made a great contribution to our country….either as Reid’s replacement or as HHS secretary i wish her the best of luck…..


  9. ... says:

    Did Penn or Wolfson invite any Obama partisans to participate on the call? Just curious.


  10. Mark says:

    Isn’t Penn just asking for trouble with the suggestion that Clinton is not the establishment candidate? Easy talking point for Obama: “They claim I’m the establishment candidate, but then turn around and rely on superdelegates – Democratic Insiders. When will they commit to letting the people decide?”


  11. JohnH says:

    Dan wrote, “It looks like both campaigns are going to be competing for the title of Most Anti-Beltway Candidate from here on out.”
    It’s going to be a wonderful dance, watching them having to appeal to voters on the one hand and to their underwriters on the other. The last thing that Big Money wants is for candidates to actually address people’s needs. They would much prefer that voters be forced to select between the lesser of two corporate-centric evils.
    We’ll know when HRC really starts to feel the heat and starts to repudiate her Iraq war vote. This would bring her in line with the Democratic base. But will she have the courage to stand up to the energy security complex (defense, energy and media)? And how can she make the shift seem anything but calculating and inauthentic?


  12. downtown says:

    16. In a stunning comeback, HRC only lost Connecticut by about 3%.


  13. Ben Rosengart says:

    “Solid reportage”? No offense to Steve, but this post doesn’t pretend to be anything other than stenography; reportage it ain’t. It’s still useful information, and I appreciate it. But let’s be real.


  14. Dan Kervick says:

    Steve writes,
    “More later. I hope to be invited to participate on an Obama conference call — but not sure at this point.”
    I hardly think it is necessary. You can collect all of these same spin bullet points from either campaign just by watching the news and reading the political blogs.
    The cutest item in the above list is the one about Missouri, which seeks to turn a stunning Obama victory into a defeat. According to the Rasmussen tracking poll, Obama picked up about 20 points in the final two weeks and 10 points in the final five days to overtake Clinton on election day. Big Clinton leads have collapsed in state after state, and as a result of last night’s voting Obama now has more pledged delegates than Clinton. But I guess the Clinton campaign’s way of spinning the results is to argue, “she is not collapsing quite as rapidly as some have suggested.” Fair enough, I guess, if that is the line they want to take.
    Also, I presume Penn and Wolfson understand that one does not win states in the fall by winning the most districts in that state, but by winning the largest share of the popular vote in the state. It’s much more important to win one district packed with a lot of actual people than to win three districts where few people live. But maybe the Clinton campaign wants to suggest that observes should count the votes of a few white farmers more heavily than the votes of those huddled urban masses of black people.
    It looks like both campaigns are going to be competing for the title of Most Anti-Beltway Candidate from here on out. Part of that might be a continuing effort to court and Edwards endorsement, in addition to the message’s inherent appeal to voters.


  15. FaceOnMars says:

    If it boils down to super delegates tipping the scales, maybe registered dems will have their eyes opened about the dilution of their votes via the party establishment. IMHO, there’s no other way to look at the existence of super delegates other then as “stacking of the deck” by the status quo.
    Being an independent, I’m not a fan of anyone on the GOP side of the aisle; however, I will certainly NOT vote to keep a GOPer out of office … even if it entails voting for a third party or independent candidate if one of the dem candidates gets the nod as a result of a super delegate.
    The party system needs an overhaul & I wouldn’t mind seeing it hit “bottom” to rebuild from the ground floor up.


  16. JohnH says:

    It was interesting to watch HRC and Obama in front of the crowds. Her signs all say “Hillary,” his “Change.” The clear visual message is that Hillary’s campaign is about her, Obama’s about making things better (unless of course you cynically interpret “change” in the Rovian sense of helping your cronies more).
    HRC still needs to construct a narrative as to why she’s running. Otherwise, we’ll have to assume that she’s running for the same reasons Bob Dole did–entitlement.
    Steve is concerned about Obama’s “aura.” Yes, real leaders have an aura. In much of the world it’s called “baraka.” Leaders are considered people who have been specially blessed, which is where the word comes from.


  17. Robert M. says:

    Thanks for the “insider” news direct from the horses’ mouths. Solid reportage. When Mr. Penn ceases to run an anti-union program out of his company (there HAS to be some party standards, you know, not just Clinton standards), then I’ll believe he’s a Democrat. BUT I will pay attention to whatever he’s saying. Still, until H Clinton shows some internal independence and fires Penn (because if she doesn’t, then she agrees with his anti-union positions), Obama is my man, the person who actually put Saul Alinsky stuff into practice as opposed to the person who merely critiqued it in her Wellesley senior paper. “Revolutionary Change”, ya know.


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