For the edification of our readers, we asked (begged, really) a range of anonymous Hillarylanders--more than a dozen, from high-level advisers to grunt-level assistants--for lists of "What Went Wrong?" Here it is, an elegy for Hillary '08, written by those who worked tirelessly to keep it alive.
Bottom line: I just don't think she was hungry enough for it in the beginning. It wasn't really until the ten-in-a-row loss that she started doing stuff like 'Saturday Night Live' and Jon Stewart. In the beginning, it was hard to get her to do those things."
"Clearly, [Obama] was a phenomenon. He was tapping something really different than anyone had ever seen before. ... I just think they should have really gone after him back in the summer and in the fall. I know it would have been a difficult decision to make back then: She's the leader of the party, the standard bearer, the big dog. Everyone thinks she's gonna win and walk away with it. Why go picking on Barack Obama? But that's just something the campaign should have done sooner."
"Devastating vulnerabilities such as Obama's associations with [Jeremiah] Wright and [Bill] Ayers were not unearthed by the campaign's vaunted research team in time to be fully taken advantage of--despite being readily available in the public domain."
"Hillary assembled a team thin on presidential campaign experience that confused discipline with insularity; they didn't know what they didn't know and were too arrogant to ask at a time early enough in the process when it could have made a difference, effectively shutting out even some long-time Hillaryland loyalists. Her innermost circle of [Patti Solis] Doyle, [Mark] Penn, [Mandy] Grunwald, [Neera] Tanden, and [Howard] Wolfson formed a board of directors with no single chairman or CEO; nobody was truly in charge, nobody held truly accountable."
"We would just cringe. Ugh. Such an out-of-touch corporate-run kind of campaign--exactly what you'd expect from Mark Penn. He did fine during his time in the Clinton White House. But running a campaign to capture the nomination in a change environment is something he had never done. Just look at what he did for Joe Lieberman!"
"[Bill's] behavior that started off in Iowa, carried on in New Hampshire, and culminated in South Carolina really was the beginning of the end. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, he just kind of imploded. I think, if I had to look back on it, it became more about him than about her. It really was destructive overall."
"There were more themes in this campaign than anything I've ever seen."
"There were a number of people who advised the Clinton campaign back in the spring of '07 that this could easily become a longer battle--a war of attrition. She needed to build a broad base of supporters beyond the virtually limitless number of Clinton friends and supporters who they counted on to not only max out, but to use their not inconsiderable Rolodexes to help her. That would have been fine if this thing had ended Super Tuesday. It didn't, and she ran out of money."
"There was financial mismanagement bordering on fraud. A candidate who raised more than a quarter of a billion dollars over the years had to pump in millions more of her own money to stave off bankruptcy."
"I don't think anybody in America doesn't think she can do the job. What they're dying for is to know a little bit more about her. And we were unable to present that side of her."
"Mark Penn and Mandy Grunwald dismissed the possibility of youth turning out heavily in Iowa for Obama, saying on the record after the Jefferson-Jackson dinner, 'They don't look like caucus-goers.'"
"We ran a press operation that lost all credibility with the press through endless and pointless memos like 'Where's the Bounce?' and polling memos that cherry-picked only positive polls when we were up and ignored polling when we were down."
"Her people spent all of 2008 making lists blaming each other (but never themselves) rather than lists of solutions."