The race between Clinton and Bernie Sanders, to this point, has been rich in detail. For the most part, they have also been flush with mutual respect, with both candidates focused upon a common goal: keeping the White House out of Republican hands.
As the New Hampshire primary looms, it’s gotten more personal. This week’s Twitter war over Clinton’s supposed lack of liberal credibility has signified that the political revolution Sanders promises will be an uncompromisingly strict one, if not outright absolutist. With a two-word response about whether Clinton is a progressive—“some days”—Sanders shifted the Democratic primary into an ideological contest, with he and his fervent followers as the judges.
Eventually, this approach may be Sanders’s undoing. But Clinton just can’t wait for the Vermont senator to fall apart. As a New Hampshire poll today indicated, his fiery rhetoric has made the case to core Democratic constituencies; down 20 points overall, she only leads Sanders amongst voters 60 and older. Winning the state, as her people are already conceding, will be damn near impossible. But what isn’t is making a broader argument to voters she’s currently losing, and will eventually need.
I expect Clinton will focus tonight on the tough assignment of making her pragmatic approach to the presidency sound not just persuasive, but inspirational. Even if, to Bob Woodward’s dismay, she has to raise her voice to do it.