Hillary Clinton Will Pivot Too

In writing about the current state of the presidential race earlier today, I noted that the long-awaited Trump pivot is starting to finally materialize. Greg Sargent caught an important quote from Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri suggesting the the Democratic nominee is getting ready to pivot as well.

One upside to Hillary Clinton’s break from the trail was having time to sharpen the final argument she will present to voters in these closing weeks. So when she rejoins the trail tomorrow, Hillary Clinton will deliver the second in a series of speeches laying out her aspirational vision for the country: that we are “Stronger Together.” Tomorrow’s remarks will focus on what has been at the core of who Hillary Clinton is as a person and the mission of her campaign — how we lift up our children and families and make sure that every child has the chance to live up to their God given potential.

Our campaign readily admits that running against a candidate as controversial as Donald Trump means it is harder to be heard on what you aspire for the country’s future and it is incumbent on us to work harder to make sure voters hear that vision.

I interpret that a little different that Sargent. He suggests that the Clinton’s approach has been to let Trump hang himself with dominance in the media given that his outrageous statements alienated so many key voting blocs. Meanwhile, “At various points throughout this campaign, Clinton has opted for less visibility than was perhaps warranted.” He assumes the pivot means that the campaign will do more to break through Trump’s dominance in the media.

In that quote from Palmieri I hear more about what the message will be than an attempt to gain more visibility. Back in June, I suggested that it was a positive thing that Clinton was defining Trump. Since then, she has done a lot more of that. It is evident in everything from her powerful speech about his ties to the alt-right to the myriad of videos put out by her campaign PR team at The Briefing. Overall, the message has been weighted on the side of “vote for Clinton because Donald Trump is scary and unfit for office.” The pivot will be to rebalance that message with a positive one about Hillary Clinton’s vision for the country.

I can understand the dilemma Palmieri points to about what it means to run against such a controversial opponent. Trump is uniquely terrifying and responding to that threat can overwhelm even the best intentions of a policy wonk like Clinton. But this is something I’ve been thinking she needs to do for a while now. For a lot of voters, the specter of a Trump presidency is enough to get them to vote for Clinton. But it leads to a guttural feel about the whole election. In other words, it’s time to implement Michelle Obama’s slogan: “when they go low, we go high.” That doesn’t mean that the campaign will ignore Trump’s nonsense. It just means that it’s time to put it into perspective and also make an affirmative case for why Clinton should be president.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.