Saturday, January 5, 2008

Amateurs Talk Tactics, Professionals Talk Logistics

The Clinton Campaign seems to have had a difficult time anticipating the size of the crowd she could draw ... then things started to get really strange:

Clinton took her first question from a woman who said that Bill O'Reilly, who stood about 40 feet away from Clinton's left, asked her about Clinton's troop withdrawal plan from Iraq.

"Bill O'Reilly!" Clinton said, gesturing to the talk show host.

The crowd started to jeer, but Clinton raised her hand: "Oh no, no no -- he gets at least some credit for being here."

What's weirder is that the "woman" Ambinder speaks of is described as "a young girl with red hair" in another account?

But back to the weak event coordination for a minute. I've been talking about how Clinton's messaging and attacks haven't been connecting -- and those are both difficult things to do -- but putting together a rally in New Hampshire really should be second nature to Clinton's campaign staff. I could have sworn reading an article several months ago that featured a staffer from the campaign who possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of the runway lengths of most small airports in North America (the ideal kind for servicing private or charter planes). That may sound like knowledge that only Rain Man would want, but something like that can potentially save a campaign hours in a pinch. It should also go to show how much experience that person has flying into small airports on private or charter jets ...

This may seem like a little thing, but those are exactly the things that seems to be burying the Clinton campaign: the little things. And now they're starting to add up at the worst of moments, when time is of the essence. This isn't supposed to be happening and looks as if a lot of the sloppiness on display from the Clinton campaign may be a symptom of the team being taken by its own propaganda. Everyone seems to have bought into the inevitability thing and stopped sweating the details, and now they're paying the price.

Here's the thing: when Bill was in the White House he had a famously chaotic managerial style. I don't know if that's carried over to Hillary's campaign -- in fact, I doubt it has -- but Hillary & Co. may have fallen prey to the habits and mindset of her current office, that of a world-class U.S. Senator. The pace in the Senate is much slowly, more collegial and less dependent on the kind of charisma she lacks. In a lot of ways Hillary was made for the Senate, not the White House and her campaign really seems to be demonstrating that in the last month.

MORE: O'Reilly's been a busy man today!

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