You shouldn't wear sunglasses into a Chipotle. You shouldn't require signed release forms from "everyday" people who talk to you. You shouldn't duck legitimate questions from journalists like NBC's Andrea Mitchell: She only wanted to know your latest position on gay marriage.
Got that, Hillary Clinton? You should be perfect.
While the first week of Clinton's second presidential campaign was far from perfect, it was exactly what she needed it to be: simple and enjoyable. A little-known goal of top Clinton advisers—many of whom are new to her inner circle—was to show their boss that a campaign doesn't need to be torture.
Every mistake doesn't need to be a disaster.
Every news cycle doesn't need to be won.
Every voter doesn't need to be won over. Co-opting Barack Obama's sly insult from the 2008 Democratic race, one friend and adviser told Clinton months ago, "'Likeable enough' is enough."
In other words, Team Clinton didn't send their candidate to Iowa in a van. They sent her to Iowa on training wheels. It may be the most important decision of the fledgling campaign: to recognize that Clinton is not a skilled politician, and that she's painfully aware of her shortcomings.
Boost her comfort and confidence, aides say, and she might become a better candidate—perhaps even a better leader.
This isn't just about stagecraft. Clinton can talk all she wants about her "four fights" agenda (building the economy, strengthening families, fixing "our dysfunctional political system," and keeping the country secure) but her policies go nowhere if she can't earn the trust of voters and, if elected, govern effectively in a polarized nation.
Which is why I've been so critical of her inexcusable decision to stash government email on a private server and chalk it up to "a matter of convenience"—an explanation that defies common sense (read more here, here, here and here).
It is why her family charity should return foreign donations. An upcoming book by conservative author Peter Schweizer argues that foreign donors received favors from Hillary Clinton's State Department. Her campaign is already dismissing the claims as "absurd conspiracy theories," but I've had senior Democrats close to Clinton share similar concerns with me.
Her apologists are right: Sometimes lunch is just a lunch. Who cares if she tipped or wore sunglasses? But they, too, should remember what this week is about: Eventually, the training wheels will come off. Tough questions will be asked and answered, her integrity assessed.
Clinton doesn't need to be perfect, but she will be held accountable.
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.