Hillary: Change is About Working Hard
“Change” was the theme of both of last night’s presidential debates in New Hampshire. On the Republican side, it gave John McCain the line of the evening with his rejoinder to Mitt Romney, “We disagree on a lot of issues, but I agree you are the candidate of change.”
For the Democrats, it provided the pivotal moment of the debate: Hillary Clinton’s assertion that while Barack Obama and John Edwards have been talking about “change,” she’s been making it happen through years of hard work.
Here’s the transcript:
SEN. CLINTON: Wait a minute now, wait a minute. I’m going to respond to this because obviously — making change is not about what you believe. It’s not about a speech you make. It is about working hard. There are 7,000 kids in New Hampshire who have health care because I helped to create the Children’s Health Insurance Program. There’s 2,700 National Guard and Reserve members who have access to health care, because on a bipartisan basis, I pushed legislation through over the objection of the Pentagon, over the threat of a veto from President Bush.
I want to make change, but I’ve already made change. I will continue to make change. I’m not just running on a promise of change, I’m running on 35 years of change. I’m running on having taken on the drug companies and the health insurance companies, taking on the oil companies.
So, you know, I think it is clear that what we need is somebody who can deliver change. And we don’t need to be raising the false hopes of our country about what can be delivered. The best way to know what change I will produce is to look at the changes that I’ve already made.
Josh Marshall predicts this snippet will “become a Rorschach for voters,” with people either seeing it as angry and shrill or smooth and decisive. Frank Lutz’ focus group thought she was “angry,” “vicious,” “defensive,” and proves she can’t take criticism (via Sullivan):
While not a Hillary fan, I thought she made a pretty reasonable argument. Her tone was a bit impatient, perhaps, but I’m not sure that’s inappropriate. Of course, I’m not the target audience.
In any case, I second Roger Simon‘s motion that it’s retire to ban “change” and its variants from these debates. It’s meaningless. As someone (perhaps Huckabee?) noted in the GOP segment, not all change is good. I’d much rather see a focus on specific issues than the silly notion that a single politician is going to be able to radically overhaul the American political standpoint by wishing really hard.