Hillary Shows Bernie Bloc Zero Respect in Ducking Fox Debate While Missing Big Opportunity
Hillary Clinton is running for president by running scared…
Scared of Fox News (one appearance in three years on the network). Scared of Bernie Sanders, who she once led by more than 50 points in many polls but is now in serious jeopardy of losing more states in the primaries when the voting is over next month. Scared of herself, which is really the only explanation for her backing out of a debate she originally agreed to do regardless of the network carrying it.
“Naturally, Fox News is disappointed that Secretary Clinton has declined our debate invitation, especially given that the race is still contested and she had previously agreed to a final debate before the California primary,” said Bill Sammon, FNC’s VP and Washington Managing Editor.
If you’re a Bernie supporter, consider yourself officially dismissed. After all, it was Mrs. Clinton who declared to CNN’s Chris Cuomo just last week that the race was over, she was the nominee, and there isn’t a damn thing anyone can do about it. “I will be the nominee for my party, Chris,” she said. “That is already done, in effect. There’s no way that I won’t be,” adding that it was Sanders who “has to do his part to unify.”
It’s nothing short of Billy Batts telling Tommy to go get his shine box in that classic bar scene in Goodfellas. The Queen has spoken. Or as New York Times liberal columnist Maureen Dowd has called her, “the annoyed Queen.” If Trump gets to run a general election campaign, she apparently has concluded, then it’s her right to do the same… voters in California and New Jersey be damned. And that includes not giving Sanders even one more minute of her time. In her mind, he shouldn’t even be here. And for her to agree to even one more debate — and on Fox, no less — well… that ain’t going to happen. But again, if you support the Senator from Vermont, there’s a special place in hell if you don’t fall in line and throw your full support around the Queen… or else she’s really going to become annoyed.
For fans of political theatre, it’s truly a shame we won’t see Mrs. Clinton tackle questions from a Chris Wallace, Bret Baier or Megyn Kelly. Hillary, of course, has said plenty of nice things about the female portion of that debate moderator triad: “His attitude about and what he has said about so many women, the way he treated Megyn Kelly — who is a superb journalist — I just don’t understand what he thinks is the role of somebody running for president,” Clinton explained to the ladies of The View last month. Just don’t expect Clinton to sit down with the aforementioned superb journalist, like, ever…
We’ve seen glimpses here and there of Clinton’s risk-averse nature lately. Almost immediately following the Brussels attacks, NBC’s Today Show reached out to Trump (who was already pre-booked on the program) and Hillary to see if they wanted to comment on what just happened in Belgium live. Trump didn’t hesitate and agreed to do so via phone, as he often does. For her part, Mrs. Clinton declined. Trump proceeded to do the interview, reiterating his call for tighter borders, increased waterboarding and stepped-up bombing of ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Only after Trump was finished did Clinton – who isn’t used to doing interviews in any environment calling for spontaneity – agree to comment an hour later. It was a telling moment, because say what you will about Trump’s worldview or temperament, the man is fearless when it comes to anytime, anywhere interviews regardless of outlet.
The same can’t be said for the calculated-to-a-fault Hillary Clinton. In the past 170 days, she’s held zero press conferences (outside of a four-minute gaggle in a Minnesota diner a few months ago). She picks and chooses who gets to the privilege to ask her questions and when… and that now obviously includes debates.
If Hillary Clinton thinks she can continue this kind of media strategy when it comes to Trump, she’s sadly mistaken. Love Trump. Hate Trump. Never has one candidate controlled so many consecutive news cycles like he has. And it doesn’t matter if the coverage of his latest controversial comment is negative or not… it gets him front and center of the daily conversation regardless… which may be one of the reasons why he’s somehow gained 11+ points in a matter of weeks in the Real Clear Politics average that now shows him with a small lead.
In the end, this is equally an ill-advised move because of this simple fact: Hillary is a solid debater. She’s impeccably prepared, knows how to commands a stage and doesn’t make the kind of mistakes (See: the Rick Perry Moment or Al Gore‘s sighs) that get played over and over for days or weeks on end afterward. Unless Trump starts to really buckle down in his debate prep, he’s going to have his hands full and then some.
All of that said, she should debate Sanders because it would actually give her a rare night of knocking Trump off the front pages and the cable news A blocks. It also would help her historically-high unfavorable numbers. How high? Trump 56 percent unfavorable, Clinton 61 percent. But by not keeping her word, she has to deal with headlines like this today in the San Francisco Chronicle:
No presidential debate in California after Clinton breaks promise
It would also show some respect for Bernie Sanders and his much-needed-in-the-general supporters that she does respect the process, and, more importantly, him.
But Hillary says it’s over. Bernie needs to unify before going to his room.
You have to wonder who is consulting Clinton on her media strategy these days… because backing out of this debate is just one more obvious reason why she’s losing so often lately.
Follow Joe Concha on Twitter @JoeConchaTV
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.