Although overshadowed, one moment in last week’s debate revealed a huge strength of the Clinton campaign. The senator, rebutting Mayor Giuliani’s assertion that she lacks experience, said:
I think my experience of 35 years as an advocate for children and families, as a citizen activist, as someone who helped to bring educational reform and health care reform to Arkansas, bringing the Children’s Health Insurance Program to fruition during the years in the White House, my time in the Senate, I think my experience on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue — but it’s really about what’s at stake in this election and who can deliver the change that we all know this country desperately needs.
Spinning her career as a one-term senator and First Lady into 35 years of experience is an impressive display of political gamesmanship, creating an overstretched resume that was unchallenged by the truly experienced Senate heavyweights on the stage. Barack Obama expressed an appropriate sentiment in a interview with James Traub, saying, “Hillary gets a unique pass on this [experience] issue, not by virtue of her service in the Senate but by virtue of the idea that through osmosis she gets it from Bill.”
Not only does Clinton portray herself as an experienced candidate, but she ties in change at the end of the response, effectively hijacking Obama’s message. Indeed, the latest polls show voters believe Clinton is the candidate most able to bring change to Washington. Once again, the answer was a perfectly constructed testament to the Clinton campaign’s enormous strength.