Harold Ickes definitely doesn’t buy the argument that Mark Penn isn’t responsible for everything that has happened to the Hillary Clinton campaign.
“Mark Penn has run this campaign,” said Ickes in a brief phone interview this morning. “Besides Hillary Clinton, he is the single most responsible person for this campaign.
“Now, he has been circumscribed to some extent by Maggie Williams,” said Ickes, who then pointed out that that was only a recent development.
When asked about the assertion by one senior Clinton official the campaign was effectively run by committee, diluting Penn’s authority, Ickes was incredulous.
“I don’t know what campaign you’re talking about,” said Ickes. “I have been at meetings where he introduces himself as the campaign’s chief strategist. I’ve heard him call himself that many times, say, ‘I am the chief strategist.’”
Asked if Penn preferred the title of chief strategist to pollster, Ickes said, “Prefer it? He insists on it!”
When asked if Penn was therefore responsible for the campaign’s strategy, Ickes said, “It’s pretty plain for anyone to see that he has shaped the strategy of the campaign. He has called the shots.”
“Mark Penn,” he said, “has dominated the message in this campaign. Dominated it.”
For conservatives, the result in November will be scary at worst and bittersweet at best, but at least we can look back at how America turned its back on the Clintons. Like many losers before them they are convinced that their defeat was a result of strategy. The message was wrong or they didn't get it out.
Mark Penn is a pollster and the Clintons have always been driven by polls. But Hillary wass incapable of changing voters perception of her by following the polls. Voters have been down the road with her too often to let her re-invent herself.
Rank and file Democrats went with the blank slate instead, fostered by the feel-good racial cleansing that the Clinton taught them. The idea that some strategist could pin a specific message on her and people would vote based on that message is hubris. A fresh message doesn't work with a stale candidate.
Ickes also took umbrage at the suggestion of one Clinton campaign official that he had mismanaged the campaign’s money and deprived Clinton the resources to compete in states after February 5.
“We invested a huge amount of money in February 5 states,” said Ickes, arguing that anyone who suggested he had wasted the campaign’s money was “talking with no knowledge.”
“I don’t know what they’re basing this statement on but they have not one fact to stand on,” he said.
The article doesn't mention the $100,000 the campaign spent at the Bellagio living it up. But even still, hers wasn't a problem of money either. McCain's campaign has been broke several times. Huckabee didn't have much scratch. Romney had a big coffer. Ron Paul raised more funds than any of them.
The Republicans learned that money wasn't going to buy familiarity and Democrats learned that money couldn't change familiarity.
The toughest thing for candidates is being honest with themselves about who they are. The ones with the best sense of self seem to overcome the ones trying to get their message out.