A Tale Of Two Clinton Campaigns

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by Karl Rove,

from The Wall Street Journal,

In 1991, Bill spoke about responsibility and the middle class. Hillary talks of grievance.

It’s enlightening to compare two presidential campaign announcements offering two very different visions coming from one couple.

Then-Gov. Bill Clinton’s Oct. 3, 1991, announcement in Hope, Ark., included promises of “preserving the American dream” and “restoring the hopes of the forgotten middle class.” He displayed a healthy skepticism of government, promising that his administration wouldn’t “spend our money on programs that don’t solve problems and a government that doesn’t work.”

He called for more personal responsibility. “We should insist that people move off welfare rolls and onto work rolls,” he said, further suggesting that high-school dropouts should lose their driver’s licenses.

In short, Mr. Clinton was a different kind of Democrat, prodding his party “to learn from its past mistakes,” the Washington Post reported at the time, and emphasizing themes aimed at the general election, not simply his party’s base. “The change we must make isn’t liberal or conservative,” Mr. Clinton told his audience. “It’s both, and it’s different.”

Fast-forward to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s announcement Saturday on New York’s Roosevelt Island. Her speech, at about 4,700 words, was half again as long as her voluble husband’s, which was 3,100. Yet he used the phrase “middle class” eight times while she used it only twice. He used the word “responsibility” 12 times; she never mentioned it.

Twenty-four years ago, Mr. Clinton said he was confident that the U.S. was “the greatest country in history” because Americans believed “that each of us has a personal, moral responsibility” to make the future “better than the present.”

Last week, Mrs. Clinton suggested America’s difficulties are to be blamed on the rich, powerful and privileged. “Prosperity can’t be just for CEOs and hedge-fund managers,” she said. “Democracy can’t be just for billionaires and corporations.”

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