Clinton Pushes Beyond Sound Bites To Get Her Message Out

Sep 7, 2016
Originally published on September 7, 2016 8:12 am
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Since the Democratic convention, it seemed that Hillary Clinton was content letting her opponent, Donald Trump, dominate the news cycle because he was dominating it with controversies that he caused himself. But with time getting a little tight, Trump sticking now to a teleprompter and voters paying more attention, a big question is whether Clinton can get her own message to resonate. NPR's Tamara Keith reports.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: In some ways, Hillary Clinton is going back to her original playbook. She's always been the candidate with all the plans, the policy wonk who reads briefing binders at night for fun. And that Clinton was on full display at a rally in Tampa, Fla., yesterday.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

HILLARY CLINTON: I'm very proud that Tim Kaine and I are running a campaign of issues, not insults, because I believe anybody who is asking for your vote for the most important job not just in the country, but in the world, should tell you what they plan to do.

KEITH: There had been a growing rumble from voters, people in focus groups and political professionals and writers that Clinton was running against Trump, but not saying loudly or clearly enough what she was for. This week, Clinton delivered an answer in the form of a 288-page book called "Stronger Together."

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CLINTON: It shows this is more than a slogan for the campaign. This is a blueprint for America's future.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Among the things that we talk about is the core of our agenda. As laid out in this book, it is building an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top.

KEITH: For supporters in the audience in Tampa, her extended stump speech was something of a revelation. Thomas Jones is a recent retiree from the Army and says, like most voters, he usually sees Clinton on TV in snippets, reacting to something Donald Trump said.

THOMAS JONES: She's not just anti-Trump. I learned today that she actually does have a plan. It is not just to best Trump and he said this and he said that. She actually laid out what she's going to do for the economy and what she's going to do going to do for students, what she's going to do for creating more jobs and clean energy. She had a whole litany of things that she has a plan for.

KEITH: Clinton supporter Lu Seeley says she is really looking forward to the debates, in hopes that policy will take center stage. And she thinks that will give Clinton an advantage. Tonight marks the first candidate forum of the general election, focused on veterans. And Seeley can't wait.

LU SEELEY: I think that that's going to be the lion and the tiger feeling each other's paws. And I think one of them is going to turn into - well, I like cats, so I'm not going to say a pussycat. One's going to turn into a little ant, I think.

KEITH: Yesterday in Tampa, Clinton delivered some new lines that could just show up at tonight's forum.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CLINTON: His whole campaign has been one long insult to all those who've worn the uniform to protect our most cherished American values.

KEITH: So she isn't giving up criticizing Trump entirely. Tamara Keith, NPR News, Tampa, Fla. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.