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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

"A Lifetime of Experience"

In Epic Journey and After Hope and Change, we write about the role of experience in presidential elections. Stuart Stevens writes at The Daily Beast:
Prompted by a New York Times article Monday,“Republicans Paint Clinton as Old News for 2016 Presidential Election” (which opens with a quote from me), there seems to be a great rush among the large professional class dedicated to defending all things Democratic to deny that age and experience will be an issue for Hillary. Which seems a bit silly since in her last run, she did everything she could to use both to her advantage.

“I think that I have a lifetime of experience that I will bring to the White House,” she declared on March 3, 2008. “Sen. John McCain has a lifetime of experience that he'd bring to the White House. And Senator Obama has a speech he gave in 2002."

She told Newsweek, “I wouldn't be in this race and working as hard as I am unless I thought I am uniquely qualified at this moment in our history to be the president we need starting in 2009 … I think it is informed by my deep experience over the last 35 years, my firsthand knowledge of what goes on inside a White House.”

This prompted Timothy Noah in Slate to respond, “Oh, please. Thirty-five years takes you back to 1973, half of which Hillary spent in law school, for crying out loud.”

And there’s the rub. When you ran in 2008 as the candidate of experience based on 35 years of experience and lost to a candidate of the “new,” don’t be surprised if it happens again eight years later.
In recent decades, the candidate who put the most emphasis on experience was Bob Dole.  He lost the vice presidency in 1976, GOP nomination in 1980 and 1988, and general election in 1996.

On November 7, 1987, he used the very phrase that Clinton used:  "I want to lead America into an even greater era of opportunity for our people and security for our nation. And so I offer a lifetime of experience and a record that shows not merely where I stand, but the hopes of a lifetime rooted here in Russell."