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Postman on Politics

Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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October 10, 2007 12:27 PM

Has Clinton moved beyond fame?

Posted by David Postman

Mark Penn, Hillary Clinton's chief strategist, says a new poll showing the New York senator's commanding lead in the Democratic presidential primary shows that the candidate is moving from famous to well-known. Penn is in Seattle today -- a week before the candidate is here for a party speech -- on a book tour and meeting with local Clinton supporters. He said a new Gallup Poll
is just the latest evidence that of the "tremendous consolidation of the numbers around Senator Clinton where she has moved up in many of the polls." Penn said that Clinton's rise is a surprise to people who from the beginning of the campaign

"thought she was known and couldn't go up. But it turned out she was more famous than known, and she shattered the preconceptions about her."


"People had a very outdated image of the senator outside of places like New York. ... People didn't realize how well she knew the national issues."

Penn also said there was what he termed a "myth" that Clinton was "personally distant."

The LA Times had a good story Monday about how Clinton built her lead.

One of the most demonized politicians in America has begun to win a second look from skeptics.

That underscores one of Clinton's most important assets in the turbulent few months ahead of the balloting set for early January. She has built a political base -- reflected in polls -- of voters who dominate the Democratic nominating process: seniors, women and blue-collar voters.

Penn said:

"I think the more people see her they more they see how ready she is to be president."

Clinton is counting on support from two groups that Penn said helped re-elect George W. Bush: Hispanics and women. He said support from Latinos are showing up in polls for Clinton "in incredibly strong numbers, almost universal, 95 percent-kind of support." And, he said, if Clinton is the Democratic nominee there will be an outpouring of female, first-time voters.

As for how Clinton is doing locally, Penn said the most recent polling he had was from May. But The Stranger's Eli Sanders asked him about a more recent Survey USA poll that showed Barack Obama the most popular Democrat among state voters.

Penn said that he thinks the "momentum is shifting" away from Obama. You can read Sanders' take on the local scene here.

Penn did say there is strong support for Clinton among "more downscale voters" and blue collar Democrats. I would say that Seattle is light on those kind of Democrats and that could help explain Obama's strong support here.

Penn said that voters have moved from Obama to Clinton as they became convinced that Clinton had not just the right position on the issues, but the experience to deliver results. With months to go before the first vote is case, Penn is optimistic, though he said he doesn't want that to be misread as complacent.

"People always say, 'Is she electable?' What I do is point out that not only is she electable, but she's ahead."

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