Obama Says Voters Want "New Car Smell," Clinton Camp Grimaces

Obama Says Voters Want "New Car Smell," Clinton Camp Grimaces
White House (Pete Souza) [Public domain]

The knock against Hillary Clinton as a campaigner is that she has thin skin. Journalists have publicly complained that if they criticize her they risk falling out of favor, losing access or worse. Her live television interviews are said to be highly controlled events where the host is “requested” not to take the piece in certain directions.

Obama says he might not campaign for Democratic presidential nominee

The brittle nature of the Clinton for president campaign may be on display as President Obama joked on Sunday that he might not campaign for Democratic presidential nominee because American voters might want “that new car smell.”

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In a self-deprecating fashion, Obama was saying after eight years voters might be looking for a change. “They want to drive something off the lot that doesn’t have as much mileage as me,” Obama told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on the Sunday news program This Week With George Stephanopoulos.

Analytically speaking, an MSNBC article noted that Obama was likely correct. Voters seldom elect a president from the same party after a president of the same party just served two terms.  Al Gore narrowly lost to George W. Bush after eight years of Bill Clinton. In a rare time when the same party held the presidency for 12 years, after Ronald Reagan voters threw out George H.W. Bush after only one term.

Obama’s comments damaging for Clinton

While he was accurate in his political analysis, Obama’s comments might nonetheless have been damaging for Clinton, hitting on a key weakness. Clinton’s insider ties to the power elite in Washington and on Wall Street don’t give her that fresh smell that voters are likely to want, was the discussion among panelists the ABC news program.

“It’s not just a matter of age,” Washington Examiner columnist Byron York wrote of Clinton as well as one time rumored candidate Vice President Joe Biden. “The two will also have been on the national political stage for an enormous length of time… New, they’re not.”

Republicans quickly seized on the comments for political gain.

“While the president said that he thinks Clinton would be a ‘great president,’ she might not thank him for suggesting that the voters are thirsting for less-used political goods,” Katherine Connell wrote at the right-leaning National Review Online.

“Obama admits that Hillary’s bid to be his third term isn’t the freshest concept,” Republican party chairman Reince Preibus tweeted.

While the election is nearly two years away, a key component to watch is the rigidity of a Clinton campaign and how she takes the inevitable punches that will be thrown her way.

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