PHILADELPHIA— One-time Hillary Clinton campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle advised her former boss to show “a little leg” during her acceptance speech Thursday night at the Democratic National Convention and lay out a vision for the economy to counter the one presented by Donald Trump last week in Cleveland.
Leaving aside the noise made by some Bernie Sanders delegates earlier in the week, the DNC has been a tightly scripted show with a narrative theme of baton-passing from the Obama administration to Hillary Clinton. But an overarching economic message, like one that ran through the Republican National Convention, has been absent, according to Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg.
“She’s got to make a big economic argument that has not yet been made by this party or this convention,” Greenberg, who heads the polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, said Thursday at a panel in Philadelphia hosted by The Atlantic. “There are struggling voters out there where this economy does not work and Democrats have not had an offer.”
Greenberg, who polled for Bill Clinton, noted that the former first lady will also have the tough task of reintroducing herself to the audience watching at home.
“Don’t underestimate voters wanting to be educated about leaders who they know,” he said, noting that Al Gore received an 8-point bounce coming out of the 2000 convention in Los Angeles when he famously shared a long kiss with his then-wife Tipper on stage.
Meanwhile, David Axelrod, President Obama’s former advisor who now heads the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago, likened Clinton’s challenge to the one faced by then-Vice President George H. W. Bush at the GOP convention in New Orleans in 1988. Bush was widely seen as a wimp and a bore next to charismatic President Reagan, said Axelrod, who summed up Bush’s address as: “I’m not Ronald Reagan, but here’s who I am.”
Now, Clinton will have to speak in “value-laden terms,” he said. “The economy has to be the spine of it, but it has to be infused with her own story and values. There’s a value structure.”
Stephanie Cutter, a partner at Precision Strategies and former Obama adviser, said that Clinton has to “make her own appeal” on Thursday night.
“She has to make an ask of the American people: vote for me and look at what we can do together,” she said.
Being inspirational and generating enthusiasm will be a challenge for the Democrat, admits Patti Solis Doyle, who advised ditching the policy proposals for a more personal style.
“She is not the greatest candidate; she’s not the greatest speech giver,” said Solis Doyle. “Her tendency is to give a 12-point plan. I’m looking for a very aspirational speech.
“I want her to show a little leg,” she added. “That means no pants suit.”