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Democrats were very successful at painting Mitt Romney as the man on the monopoly box with his spectacles, top hat, cane, and car elevator. They cast him as “out of touch” with ordinary Americans and much of it stuck with him throughout the 2012 campaign. Welcome to 2016 where the reverse playbook may be forming within the confines of Republican National Committee conference rooms.

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Report from Politico:

Forget about the Arkansas days, the small-bore scandals, her health care plan, and most everything else from the 1990s. A consensus is forming within the Republican Party that the plan of attack against Hillary Clinton should be of a more recent vintage, rooted in her accumulation of wealth and designed to frame her as removed from the concerns of average Americans.

With close to 20 announced and prospective GOP 2016 candidates, there’s no singular, unified messaging effort yet. But interviews with GOP consultants, party officials and the largest conservative super PACs point to an emerging narrative of a wealthy, out-of-touch candidate who plays by her own set of rules and lives in a world of private planes, chauffeured vehicles and million-dollar homes.

The out-of-touch plutocrat template is a familiar one: Democrats used it to devastating effect against Republican Mitt Romney in 2012. While Hillary Clinton’s residences in New York and Washington may not have car elevators, there’s still a lengthy trail of paid speeches, tone-deaf statements about the family finances and questions about Clinton family foundation fundraising practices that will serve as cornerstones of the anti-Clinton messaging effort.

The outlines of the effort to Mitt Romnify Hillary Clinton are still being sketched. Crossroads, the super PAC that spent $70 million in 2012 mostly on television ads attacking President Obama, is currently in the middle of an extensive research project analyzing voters’ existing perceptions of Clinton and their reactions to a number of potential critiques. But the Republican National Committee has done focus groups that suggest Clinton is more vulnerable to charges of being impervious and bending the rules than anything else tested against her.

“The most potent message against Clinton is that she doesn’t live an average life, she’s out of touch and doesn’t play by the same set of rules,” said the RNC’s research director, Raj Shah. “[T]hat resonates more deeply than some of the policy hits, the ethical hits.”

I’m thinking that the ultimate success or failure of this strategy will reside more with who the eventual GOP nominee is, rather than whether these attacks would stick on Hillary Clinton. I’m certain in many ways, they will. However, it would be hard to contrast her life with, say, Jeb Bush, and argue she’s more out-of-touch than he may be.

The other issue, as I see it, is one of principle. If Republicans want to avoid much of the class warfare which has dominated recent election cycles, this is not the way to attack Hillary Clinton. I would be questioning whether Republicans should be attacking Hillary the way Elizabeth Warren would when they claim to be the party of free markets and capitalism.

It’s going to make for an interesting dynamic.

17 COMMENTS

  1. I disagree with the last paragraph. The GOP was always known as the out-of-touch owner/manager party up to the late 1960s. It looked as if they’d never win the White House again unless they could find another Eisenhower–you know, the guy who was so popular he was in BOTH party primaries.

    Nixon’s Southern Strategy changed that, bringing in white Southerners as well as fundamentalists. Then add the “Reagan Democrats,” mainly blue-collar, but I’ve never been convinced that they were a longterm constituency, since the policies of the GOP are always pro-business.

    Therefore, if they can paint Democrats as not just “ivory tower intellectuals,” but also friends of the rich, the GOP will do much better, I think. We’ve already heard a lot of uncharacteristic “income inequality” hype from REPUBLICAN candidates this year.

    • Yeah.. You’re probably right, I’ll grant you that.

      I just don’t understand the obsession of bashing the wealthy. Is it envy? Is it jealousy? Is it a feeling that in order for someone to be lifted up, someone else has to be knocked down?

      What’s wrong with dazzling, obscenely profitable, success?

      99 times out of 100, the person holding you back, is you.

      That’ll end my rant for the day..

      They should check this page for assistance in making the argument:

      https://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/contrib.php?cycle=Career&cid=N00000019&type=I

      • I think conservatives want to believe that all rich people started out poor and worked hard to get rich–the American Dream! Liberals want to think that all rich people started out rich and, thanks to tricks and special rules and advantages, they just got richer–they’re all crooks!

        That makes it a little harder to paint Hillary as another Romney. Romney’s family was super-rich, so his “hard times” were really just “slumming”–playing at being “poor,” to get a kick out of it. That’s why he could joke about being “unemployed” in 2012, because he has no concept what that really means.

        Meanwhile, Hillary’s dad was a manager of a small company in Chicago. They were middle class, at best. (Most people don’t know she volunteered for Goldwater in 1964. If I were advising her campaign, I’d praise Goldwater the way Republicans praise JFK.)

        Personally, I think it would be a mistake to “hate her because she’s rich” now. There are many stronger arguments–that are less likely to boomerang.

        • That’s because most, but certainly not all, people who do become wealthy (let’s say millionaires) are first-generation. In fact, 80% of them to be exact. Your favorite guy Dave Ramsey is preaching that constantly.

          http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/real-1-percent

          In response to this:

          “Personally, I think it would be a mistake to “hate her because she’s rich” now. There are many stronger arguments–that are less likely to boomerang.”

          But that’s basically what I said in the last paragraph and you disagreed!

          I’d recommend all candidates merely stick to the issues but that’s a pipe dream.

          • No, I disagreed with the idea of attacking Hillary on the issue. But I think that both parties will be talking in terms of “populism.” It’s already started.

            You can dress yourself in rags and say you have worn out bootstraps–without pointing out that pantsuitlady is wearing an evening gown.

            • I’m getting that framed..

              “You can dress yourself in rags and say you have worn out bootstraps–without pointing out that pantsuitlady is wearing an evening gown.”

            • Back to the Cato argument, yeah, they’re good at making an argument for their clients–the 1%.

              But the first point is that when WE say “The 1%,” we’re not talking about INCOME, we’re talking about total wealth. They want to include the ball player who had one good season, or one-hit-wonders, like MC Hammer (he can’t touch them).

              They want to talk about the people who are PAID a million dollars in ONE year. Pffft. That doesn’t make you one of the 1%. The latest figures I could find of the actual wealth of the 1% goes–conveniently–back to 2009–when the stock market tanked. Even then, average wealth of the 1% was over $16 million, each. Now that the stock market has just short of TRIPLED (since Obama took office), We might assume their wealth now is about $45 million, on average. That’s wealth—assets–not before you subtract for mortgages and other liabilities.

              We’re not talking about the doctor–who’s spending a lot of his paltry ONE mil income on malpractice insurance, in the BMW and house he may never pay off.

              According to–guess who–FORBES Magazine, by next year, the 1% will own more of this country than the remaining 99%, combined. And, of course, most of that wealth is in investments, for which they do no work at all, and are taxed at a fraction of the rate YOU pay.

              I’m just sayin’. . .
              if you’re running a campaign, it makes sense to try to appeal to 99% of the people. . .

            • Apparently, this is just between you and me, but if a Democrat does see this, I want to point out that my research says that while a larger percentage of the 1% are Republicans, almost as many are Democrats.

            • Goethe…I don’t think one’s political views has anything to do with being in the 1
              percent. This group is just channeled into the ways and means of adding to their personal fortune and our present Congress wants to grant their wishes every way they can. The Estate Tax, for instance. The U.S. House of Representatives will vote to repeal the federal estate tax, giving millionaires and billionaires a huge tax break that will cost the 99% (taxpayers) $270 billion over 10 years. Only individual estates worth more than $5.4 million pay any estate tax anyway. Needless to say that will not actually help or hurt you or yours. The House recently adopted a budget that cuts $5 trillion in benefits and services that mostly helped working families. That will badly hurt you and yours.

              Most people making $200,000.00 anyear feel rich but that yearly salary rarely covers one dinner party for the 1%. Congress continues to pass laws that make the “rich richer and the poor poorer” and the last category doesn’t seem to realize they were shafted.

            • Tess: Yeah, that’s what I meant. Democrats, traditionally, speak for the poor and relatively poor, so one would think only Republicans were in the 1%.

              Personally, I like the “death tax.” How much more painless can tax be than taxing dead people? We ought to tax ALL the dead people, and leave the living people alone!

            • So, what’s reasonable? Like a “Maximum Income” cap for everyone? Let’s say, anything made over $200k is property of the government. All of it. You make $12 million dollars this year? The government gets $11,800,000 of it, no questions asked, no exemptions. That way nobody can enjoy a $200k dinner. Ever.

              Is your net worth more than $200k? Too bad. Sell things off, fork it over until you meet the cap.

              Is that too low? Should $500k be the maximum? Or maybe $100k maximum since $500k is way too obscenely high. Maybe $50k since that’s the average salary nationwide.

              Fairness people, fairness.

              If your neighbor makes less, the IRS will tax you more and refund it to him. No more of this inequity. It’s time we end this unfair, evil system.

            • That doesn’t really address what I said. Sit down. Count to ten. Breathe into a paper bag, if you have to.

              I wasn’t suggesting any of that. I was just pointing out that we have “haves” and we have “have nots,” and the game is stacked in favor of the “haves’ who have all the lawyers and have made the huge campaign contributions to make sure laws favoring them will be passed.

              I’d just like the “level playing field” for the 99% that our corporations cry for, when faced with foreign competitors who are getting unreasonable advantages.

              The only thing I suggested was that it’s really not fair or decent–or sane–to charge a 25% tax rate on workers who BUST their butt. . .and then charge 15% on investors who SIT on their butt. Especially since, as we’ve seen, smart accountants trim down even that.

              More recently, I’ve been thinking about the fact that I pay PROPERTY TAX because I own property. But stocks are also “ownership of property”–ownership of the businesses, right? Shouldn’t stockholders have to pay property tax?

              I’m just looking for equal treatment.

            • Yes, I was more so directing that at Tess or anyone who wants to drone on about incoming inequality and soaking the rich..

              I get the whole 15% on investments versus an income tax rate.

              However, the money that went into the investment was ALREADY TAXED at an income rate. Thankfully he/she wealthy person decided to invest it back in the market. Why on EARTH do we want to tax people into keeping ALL their money stuck in a savings account so they don’t get nailed with more and more taxes?

              Your methodology is like whack-a-mole. Someone makes too much over here, nail them with a tax. They find a new way to make money, another tax.

              That’s why I joked, to the extreme, let’s just finish this off and create the fairness we all desperately desire. No more beating around the bush, let’s just take the money and feel better. Problem solved.

              Why do you think people have offshore bank accounts? For this very reason.. always a tax here and a tax there..

            • Dude. You got the talking points down pretty well.

              That “double taxation” argument actually sounds pretty good–on first hearing. Until one thinks about it.

              ALL taxation is “double taxation.” I’m taxed on money I earn. I pay someone and HE pays tax on that same money! He pays someone and there’s tax a THIRD time!!

              I suppose you want a dollar bill marked that it’s been taxed once, so no matter who earns that dollar again, no one ever has to pay tax on it again. If you only accept “used” bills, you never have to pay any tax at all!!

              Nonsense. Income tax is paid on something we call “income.” That is “money COMING IN”– transfer of money, from one person to another.

              It doesn’t matter if you didn’t work for it. It doesn’t matter if you don’t deserve it. It doesn’t matter if it’s way too much. If it’s “coming in” it’s “income,” and should be taxed.

              The “double taxation” argument is ridiculous.

              And I’m not talking about more tax. I’m just agreeing with Warren Buffet that he should pay a RATE at least as high as his secretary pays.

            • To clarify. . . The fallacy of the “double taxation” argument is that it does a shell-game with the money.

              It wants you to think the SAME money is being taxed again. That’s the BS part of it.

              If you put a hundred dollars of TAXED money into an investment, you do NOT pay tax again on that $100. You ONLY pay tax on the $15 appreciation–the “profit”–the “income” from that investment.

              It’s a “single tax.”

            • You have read me wrong. I am not out to soak anyone financially. I appreciate money and I have no resentment that anyone becomes a millionaire or billionaire. What I do find distasteful is excessive greed and laws that gives special treatment to any one section or class of people. Short example: Ordinary dividends earned on stock holdings are taxed at regular income tax rates, not at capital gains rates. However, “qualified dividends” are taxed at a very advantageous capital gains rate of 0% to a maximum of 15%. Dividends on stock held in a qualified retirement plan are not taxable income. There is much more so ask your Broker..you may find a better deal.

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