By David Lauter, Tribune Washington Bureau (TNS)
WASHINGTON — At the heart of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s strategy for winning the presidency lies a basic assumption about the public’s desire for political change.
History says that after eight years of a presidency, Americans typically want something different. Elections in which one party seeks a third term in the White House tend to be tough slogs. Indeed, as Clinton prepares for the first major rally of her campaign, Saturday in New York, Americans by about 2 to 1 say the country is headed down the “wrong track.”
But what sort of change do Americans want?
Republican candidates, from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in the party’s center to Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas on its right, are betting that voters want a major shift toward conservatism.
Clinton, the overwhelming favorite to win the Democratic nomination, has made a different calculation. Her advisers believe that a significant share of those who say the country is on the wrong track feel that Republican policies would only make matters worse.
On the big issues, voters favor President Barack Obama’s values and priorities, Democratic strategists say. What they want is to see that agenda implemented more effectively.
That’s why, while Clinton plans to roll out policy proposals this summer, some of which will differ from or go beyond Obama’s, the more crucial pitch will be about her ability to govern.
As she told supporters at a recent speech in South Carolina, “I do know how hard this job I’m seeking is. I’ve seen it up close and personal. You’re not gonna catch me wondering what it’s like. Instead, I’m spending my time planning for what I will do for you when I get there.”
“You’re also not going to see me shrink from a fight,” she added. “I think you know by now I don’t quit.”