Hillary Clinton
Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

I tend to admire people who are smart…especially those that strategize and think ahead. The point of the classic tale about the tortoise and the hare – “slow and steady wins the race” – captures why that is important. It’s one of the things that initially attracted me to the “no drama” of Obama’s campaign in 2008. Let’s be honest, Democrats have often been disappointing in that area. Their tendency to put their hair on fire at the news of the moment is a meme that developed over time for good reason.

In that respect, what we’re seeing from the Clinton campaign in this election is pretty impressive. Michael Skolnik did a great job of capturing how that is unfolding lately.

He’s not the only one to notice. When it comes to strategy for the vice-presidential debate, Judd Legum writes that, “Kaine lost the night but won the morning.”

Last night, Kaine conducted a deposition. In a deposition, a lawyer questions a witness outside of the courtroom, but everything is recorded and can be used later on. These aren’t flashy or scripted affairs. A deposition can be repetitive and boring. But over many hours, a skilled lawyer can get what he wants out of a witness.

What Kaine wanted to accomplish last night was to force Pence to react to some of Trump’s most outrageous statements. This was important both to remind people that Trump said those things and to place Pence in the uncomfortable position of having to react…

The tactic set up the Hillary Clinton campaign to produce this powerful video in the morning.

The larger point here is that this is a campaign for president, not a debating society. While Pence “won” by some metrics, Kaine was successful in setting a narrative that is most helpful to his running mate.

Josh Marshall made a similar point with, “Mission Accomplished.”

With the dawn of a new day we can see one thing clearly, Tim Kaine went into the debate with one mission: force a week of rehashing and relitigation of basically every lie, crazy idea and toxic rant we’ve heard from Donald Trump over the last year and a half. Whether he made ignore the attack, deny the attacks or agree with the attacks didn’t really matter. As it happened, he got one and two. Here’s the Clinton campaign’s rapid response video lining up every Kaine claim, Pence denial and Trump video saying it. It’s a classic Pence Said, Videotape Said thing. Everybody now digs into to see who’s telling the truth.

That’s what you call, “controlling the narrative.” As Skolnik pointed out, it is exactly what happened after the first Clinton/Trump debate.

What we are witnessing is a Clinton campaign that has a planned strategy that they are executing pretty flawlessly and a Trump campaign that has to constantly work with a candidate who has zero self control. Guess who wins that one. My money is on the tortoise.

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