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Thursday, October 28, 2021

A fighter’s fighting spirit

Hillary Clinton’s rise, fall and rise again moments are extraordinary in American politics. Like a bright star that eclipses other stars, she has successfully outshined her nemesis Barack Obama who was expected to clinch the fiercely fought Democratic contest after Mar. 4. But unlike a star, Clinton shines the brightest when fighting desperately for survival.

Clinton resolutely refuses to be knocked out every time her campaign is on the verge of a surefire defeat, but if she does, she always stands right back up defiantly and invincibly. Despite the apostasy of some of her once staunch supporters and the remorseless attacks from “Obama-nites” right and left, Clinton has managed to resuscitate her collapsing presidential campaign by winning historically crucial Ohio and diversely populated Texas. How in the world did she score another remarkable comeback?

The 3 A.M. phone ad. Like the overly effective “Daisy ad” employed by former president Lyndon B. Johnson’s campaign in 1964, the phone ad is an instrumental factor attributed to Clinton’s third big comeback. Using the images of innocent children sleeping peacefully in the middle of the night, Clinton successfully invoked the issue of national security by bludgeoning Obama’s level of inexperience and lack of preparedness. Although the Obama camp dubbed it as a fear-mongering tactic, the ad bombarded voters psychologically, creating doubts on Obama’s ability to answer a call in times of crises while accentuating Clinton’s experience on security and foreign policy.

The “Saturday Night Live” and the media factors. Once in a while, Hillary Clinton needs to stay away from her toughness and show her lighter human side because it tends to favor her. Her unexpected appearances on “SNL” and “The Daily Show” humanized her in such a way that voters appreciated the Hillary Clinton without her political oratory. Moreover, the “SNL” parody of a Democratic debate that showed Obama getting the easy questions and Clinton getting the tough ones has raised the subject of the media’s unfavorable coverage of Clinton’s campaign. Surprisingly after that, reporters and journalists have stepped up significantly in their scrutiny of Obama on the issues about his controversial supporter Antoin “Tony” Rezko and his position on NAFTA.

Latino and Sister power factors. Again, Clinton consistently won the ever-increasing Latino electorate, which Obama failed to transcend, and successfully regained the powerful women voters in both Ohio and Texas. A Real Clear Politics poll showed Clinton capturing 67 percent of Latino voters in Texas and 57 and 59 percent of the women votes in Texas and Ohio, respectively. Latinos and women are extremely important groups that are always saving Clinton every time her campaign is on the brink of a disaster. So she must continue to win them in order to get the nomination and beat McCain in November.

The silencing of Bill. The decision of Hillary Clinton to relegate her husband Bill Clinton’s role in the campaign from being the main actor to just being the traditional political spouse has given Hillary back the spotlight. As many pundits have claimed, Bill’s nostalgia of his White House years and his attacks on Obama like he is the one running for president have left indelible and damaging marks that caused Hillary unfathomable defeats after February’s Super Tuesday. Bill giving back the limelight to Hillary has helped his wife prove her case her way.

Above all, Clinton being a fighter is the most important factor that makes clear why Obama failed to knock her out from the race. Clinton’s monolithic audacity to withstand the strongest punch one after another has been tested and proven through times from the Lewinsky scandal and universal health plan failure to New Hampshire to Super Tuesday and then to Ohio and Texas.

In all these struggles, Clinton was embattled, but she always fought back and triumphed. And voters see that as an outstanding distinction from Obama’s speechifying. America needs a president who is a true “fighter, doer and a champion,” and only Hillary Clinton’s fighting spirit exemplifies those qualities.

REAGAN F. PARLAN welcomes your comments and suggestions at rfparlan@ucdavis.edu.

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