Five Steps to a Clinton Debate Victory

Hillary Clinton has an opportunity tonight to make a major pivot in her campaign.  She needs to get real, get inspiring, and get persuasive — in some surprising ways.

  1. Make the case for a woman in office.  Yes, you heard that right. Use stories and research, like Jay Newton-Small’s Broad Influence, that explains that positive change in an organization, including better communication, more cooperation, and less risky behavior (so – less partisanship, shutdowns, deadlock…), happens when a critical mass of women are present in leadership roles.  Explain that she will change the face of our political system to reflect the demographics of our country, which will better serve all Americans.
  2. Own her mistakes.  Talk honestly – and not defensively – about her emails, about Wall Street speech honorariums, about sexist comments by supporters Steinem and Albright.
  3. Make her case to women and young people, not by talking about herself and her achievements, but by presenting her vision of America to them that incorporates their concerns – student loans, college access, owning a home, reproductive rights, economic stability, jobs.
  4. Talk about foreign policy and immigration in a way that Bernie Sanders cannot.  She has the experience and knowledge, immigration and foreign policy are important issues in this cycle, and she has an advantage over Sanders in this realm.  She needs to drive that home.
  5. Contrast the vision of her presidency against the GOP candidates’, and not Sanders.  Attacking Sanders is not working for her.  He’s beloved, he’s inspiring people, and he’s running a very clean campaign. She’s better to attack her potential opponents in the General Election, not least by explaining that they will roll back advances that Democrats have made with respect to environmental protections, women’s reproductive rights, equal pay for equal work, access to higher education, health care coverage, and increasing the minimum wage.
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