Connecting With Voters Remains Clinton's Challenge

Hillary Clinton has an impressive resume - eight years as first lady, eight years as senator, four years as secretary of state and a name recognized worldwide. Her main challenge in the run-up to the 2016 White House race is simply connecting with ordinary Americans, analysts say.

While Clinton came from a middle class upbringing as a small businessman's daughter in Illinois, she has been in the national spotlight since the early 1990s. She and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have earned millions of dollars for speeches and books.

That has opened her up to questions over whether her wealth and status have insulated her from the problems of ordinary Americans, and analysts said her controversial response to a question on that issue earlier this month showed she is rusty in the public relations game.

Others contend that Clinton's wealth could open her up to a challenge from the left wing of her own party, "particularly in this Occupy Wall Street populist era," Republican strategist Ford O'Connell told Xinhua.

"If she gets dinged up in the primary ... it could really damage her in the general election," he said, arguing that for Clinton to lose the general election, her Democratic base will have to sour toward her somewhat.

"She's got to find a way to change that narrative," O'Connell said of the perception among some that Clinton's wealth is a barrier in relating to average Americans.

While Democrats view Clinton as empathetic to ordinary Americans, independents are divided over that question, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Annenberg survey taken after Clinton made her controversial comments.

Read more from Matthew Rusling at Xinhua




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Analysis & Political Strategy