Hillary Clinton’s Personal Touch


hillary clinton whitehaven.jpg
While I’m not with Hillary Clinton when it comes to her US-Cuba policy (and actually not with any of the candidates on all of their views. . .), I do tremendously admire her ability to convey a “personal connection” with voters and constituents — even though the reality is that this person-to-person connection is managed en masse on an economy of scale that only multi-media broadband could make possible.
This morning, I received an email from Hillary Clinton at 8:22 am ask me if I’d like to “do lunch.” That’s a respectable time for an email to come in — none of this 2 or 3 am listserv stuff that would come from either a mass mailing or insomniac.
I was sitting right there when the incoming email chime sounded — and I said, “wow, hey — an email from Hillary Clinton (though the email was actually from ‘info@hillaryclinton.com”)
But here is Hillary’s letter:

Dear Steven,
Let’s do lunch. Let’s talk, you and me — about whatever you’d like. Our hopes. Our goals. Our work. The weather. Maybe even politics.
I think it would be fun to have you over for lunch, at my table, in my home in Washington. You and I both know that we need a serious change of direction in this country. So let’s sit down for a meal and talk about exactly the best way to make that change a reality.
Of course, that change can’t happen if we don’t win. So I’m asking you today to demonstrate your commitment to real change by supporting my campaign with a contribution. We’re going to choose one supporter to come to my house in DC, along with a guest, to share lunch and talk. And if you contribute between now and midnight Friday, September 7, it could be you.
Click here to make a contribution.
My favorite part of being on the campaign trail is talking to people one-on-one, in their homes or their workplaces, learning about their lives and the challenges they face every day.
I recently had a chance to share dinner with Las Vegas nurse Michelle Estrada and her family in her home. We talked about her long hours at work and her concerns for her daughter, who is heading off to college this fall. (I sure remember that feeling!)
I had such a wonderful time eating, talking, and laughing with Michelle and her family. There’s so much I want to do as president for families like Michelle’s: help them pay for college and protect the basic American dream of owning a home.
Now I want you to come to my home, share a meal, and tell me about your life, your family, your concerns, and how we can work together to change America.
But first I need to ask for your help. I cannot win this race without you, without your support and your commitment to our campaign. Will you help me today by making a contribution?
If you contribute by Friday, you might just have lunch with me at my home in Washington.

Click here to make a contribution
I wish I could invite every single one of the more than one million people who are supporting my campaign — but I don’t think you’d all fit!
Besides, we’re building this campaign through person-to-person contact — not just the conversation I hope to have with you, but also the conversations you have with family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers everyday. Together, we’re making history.
Will you help my campaign make history today? Make a contribution by Friday, and you and I might be sharing a meal.

Click here to make a contribution
I’m really looking forward to this conversation. I’ll pick up the groceries before you get there. Let’s sit down and talk about how to change America!
Hillary Rodham Clinton

She will pick up the groceries before you get there. This is a brilliant letter — and it has me transfixed.
This is the kind of letter — and the kind of style — that could be transformative in American politics. What I mean is that a combination of mass communications innovation, “framing”, and broadband are making it easier somehow for people to feel connected on a personal basis to politicians (and others).
Hillary Clinton conveyed this same sort of approach during her amazing “conversations with America.” Here are the three videos — first, second, and third. I wrote then that her style of connecting with people on important policy challenges of the day could change the way that the President’s Annual State of the Union message was given. I thought that the way she reached out to people and discussed real problems embarrassed the stiff and stale style Bush and other presidents relied on during the State of the Union.
On her second night of these conversations — the one that came just an hour before Bush’s speech, Hillary Clinton talked with me and answered a question I had posed in a blog posting.
While my blog was but one of millions out there, this made many bloggers feel as if she might reach out to them too — or so they told me. As my New America Foundation colleague and friend Jim Pinkerton said commenting on the Hillary Clinton-Steve Clemons exchange on his Fox News Channel show, “it’s all about interactivity.”
The Clinton people get that.
Hillary Clinton’s house is up on Whitehaven Street off of Massachusetts Avenue. I almost went up to her door one night by accident as I was having dinner with Danish Ambassador to the U.S. Friis Arne Petersen — a thoughtful, intellectually curious guy who lives right across the street from HIllary Clinton.
When I realized my mistake — before I rang the door bell — I have to say that I was impressed that I wasn’t jumped by secret service, though it’s clear that they are in the black cars parked outside her place — and I had the feeling even then that this was a good, normal house owned by normal people.
Of course, Hillary Clinton is not normal; she’s a political superstar — but what is may not be as important as what I sense when I meet her and also get letters like the one I did today. She does come off as quite human and connects. I don’t get any sense of the gossiped-about coldness at all.
I can’t contribute to her campaign as I feel I need keep my blogger independence from all of the campaigns, but I do want to have lunch with her one day.
Perhaps, just perhaps, it will happen. I have some thoughts on foreign policy and national security issues that I’d like to share.
More later.
Steve Clemons