During a conference call on Thursday, campaign chairman John Podesta told reporters the time for talking about Sanders would be closer to the first debate in October. That will be:
“the moment where those issues and the differences between the candidates will certainly be front and center and will be put before Democratic voters in the primary.”
Unfortunately, it would seem Hillary Clinton is quite comfortable hiring other politicians to talk about Bernie Sanders before the debates. The campaign has started paying for endorsements from elected officials, such as Sen. Jean Shaheen (N.H.) and former Gov. Tom Vilsack (Iowa). Gov. Dannel Malloy (Conn) took issue with Bernie Sanders’ record on guns. Having other Democrats speak badly of Bernie Sanders is political manipulation designed to criticize him and create the illusion Democrats are closing ranks around Clinton’s campaign, while Ms. Clinton says nothing and looks innocent. The problem is, as long as she is paying for it, with money or political promises, the comments cannot be considered genuine. It is simply more “old school” political deceit, designed to confuse the voters.
Hillary Clinton, herself, does not mention Bernie Sanders by name. Instead, her Brooklyn office pays the travel costs for her proxies to mention him. They are being sent to the early-voting states to criticize the popular senator.
In Des Moines, Rep. Joaquin Castro (Texas), whose travel expenses were paid for by the Clinton campaign, criticized Bernie Sanders for a lack of outreach to Latinos.
On Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, (N.Y.) said,
“I don’t think there’s any comparison between Hillary Clinton’s credentials and qualifications and positions, and Bernie Sanders. I do not see that as a close call.”
Sen. Claire McCaskill stated,
“I think the question that some of us have, is can someone who has said, ‘I’m not a Democrat,’ has chosen the title of socialist, is that person really electable?”
According to democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf,
“When you attack someone in politics, it is a sign of fear. Whether coordinated or not, these supporters of Hillary Clinton now attacking Bernie Sanders are obviously worried about Clinton’s future as Sanders popularity and voter interest in him rise.”
Sanders is closing in on Clinton’s lead in Iowa, trailing her by just seven points in the most recent Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register poll, 37% to 30%. In New Hampshire. Sanders topped Clinton 44% to 37% among likely Democratic primary voters, according to a Franklin Pierce University/Boston Herald poll.
For now, Hillary Clinton wants it to appear that she is staying above the fray she is creating. She said,
“Other candidates may be out fighting for a particular ideology, but I am fighting for you.”
A spokeswoman for her campaign refused to comment on hiring other politicians to slam Bernie. But operatives said it was a winning strategy for Clinton. Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, said,
“When you’re facing a challenger who is surging and has low negatives, the notion that you would try to put a little cloud over his image makes a lot of sense. To have Hillary do it would be beyond the pale. But you can’t let Bernie jog around the track by himself picking up support.”
Hillary Clinton’s response is to hire others to create the cloud of doubt. This behavior, combined with her efforts to secure the votes of delegates and super delegates in advance of the primaries, it is a little disappointing. This kind of behind the scenes political manipulation might allow “her” to win, but would Democrats and the American people win?