If you want to win mid-term elections, Bill Clinton makes for a curious source of advice. Two years into his presidency, Republicans swept the 1994 mid-term elections, adding 54 seats in the House and eight seats in the Senate. (The sweep was later dubbed the "Republican Revolution.") Nevertheless, Bill Clinton was called upon Friday morning, at a retreat for House Democrats in Virginia, to explain how Democrats can persuade undecided voters to vote for them in mid-term elections, which tend to attract significantly whiter and more conservative electorates than presidential elections.
While Clinton mostly stuck to platitudes — "you need to turn into them, not away from them" — he emphasized that Democrats need to burnish their image by approaching and talking to swayable voters, especially independents and centrist Republicans: "It's important not to give up on anybody, to talk to them. The worst thing that can happen is they can see we're not crazy." According to BuzzFeed's John Stanton, when Clinton got around to discussing 1994, he said he tried to stop the same thing from happening in 2010:
I did 133 events in 2010, and I remember I told Hillary somewhere in the process of it, 'You know, we're going to take a terrible lickin'.' And she said, 'Why do you keep doing more events?' And I said, 'I don't want them on my conscience … I went through this in '94 and I don't want to go through that again.'
The problem here, again, is that 1994 did happen during the 2010 mid-terms: Republicans picked up 63 House seats and 6 Senate seats.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.