Avoiding "a thermonuclear climax"

Geoff Garin, replacing Mark Penn as the top Clinton strategist, prefers a less negative tone.


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Steve Benen
April 9, 2008 1:24AM (UTC)

It's a little late in the game, but Hillary Clinton's campaign may soon see a shift in tone. The approach preferred by Geoff Garin -- Mark Penn's replacement as the campaign's top strategist -- is quite different from his predecessor's.

Mr. Garin, 54, joined the Clinton campaign several weeks ago to augment strategy. His elevation could herald a less negative tone as the candidate tries to catch Mr. Obama.

Inside the Clinton team, Mr. Penn advocated increasingly sharp attacks on Mr. Obama as Mrs. Clinton's best option. Long before he joined the campaign, Mr. Garin argued that her route to success lay more in presenting her strengths than in assailing her opponent.

"The sweet spot a campaign needs to hit is the intersection between what makes the candidate special and what the voters feel they need," he explained, praising Mrs. Clinton's values, spunk and resilience.

Recalling a recent meeting with Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Garin said: "I had the same reaction so many people have: I wish everyone could see her this way. If we could help make that happen, that would be great."

"I don't want there to be a thermonuclear climax," Garin added. "Senator Clinton is committed to having a united Democratic Party at the end of this process. Senator Obama is committed to having a united Democratic Party at the end of this process. And we will have a united Democratic Party at the end of this process."

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In other words, with Penn no longer in charge, Democrats probably shouldn't expect to see the Tonya Harding option executed anytime soon.


Steve Benen

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