When Donald Trump locked up the Republican nomination in May, I put together a compendium of the GIFs I’d included in my 2016 presidential cheat sheet, tracking Trump’s progress from joke candidate to object of morbid fascination, then on through resignation to his apotheosis. In a similar spirit of self-flagellation, I thought it’d be worth marking the occasion of Hillary Clinton clinching the Democratic nomination by reviewing a piece I wrote back in April 2015, when she jumped into the race. That piece was “10 Questions About the Hillary Clinton Campaign.” Three were rather utilitarian. How’d I do on the other seven? Like the Clinton campaign so far, it’s up and down.
3. What will her campaign be about?
This is perhaps the biggest unanswered question. Everyone knew she was running; but why? What will her campaign theme be? Is it about income inequality? Foreign policy? Change? Staying the course? We still don't know.
This is still largely true. Clinton has borrowed some ideas from Bernie Sanders, and she more recently seems to have found her voice in attacking Donald Trump’s fitness for office. Her election-night party on June 7 was all the historic milestone of a female nominee. But the raison d’courir remains a bit vague. As The New York Times delicately put it, “It has not helped that her campaign has cycled through a half-dozen slogans, from championing ‘everyday Americans’ to ‘fighting for us,’ ‘breaking down barriers,’ and, most recently, ‘stronger together.’” She still doesn’t seem to have a great answer.
4. What has she learned since 2008? And does she really want to be president?
There’s no question that Clinton has run a tighter ship than eight year ago, when her campaign devolved into a terrifying nest of infighting, backbiting, and other overwrought gerunds. Of course, it’s much easier to be stable and happy when you’re winning, even if you’re not winning by as much as you’d like; and there was one moment, after the New Hampshire primary, when leaks suggested Clinton would shake up her staff. But she stayed the course, and she won the nomination. Her staff also learned the lessons of the Obama campaign’s 2008 delegate-hunting prowess, realizing that proportional delegate-apportionment rules meant a close loss to Sanders was good for roughly an equal split of delegates, and steaming slowly and steadily toward the requisite threshold. Clinton is still not a natural campaigner, though.
5. How will Republicans attack her?