Last night, Tom Vilsack made a few small statements about Rudy Giuliani that could signal some big upcoming moves for the Hillary Clinton campaign. Vilsack, who is a co-chairman on Hillary’s team, warned that in a national campaign against Rudy, things will get personal. “There’s a lot that the rest of the country is going to get to know about Mayor Giuliani that the folks in New York City know,” the former Iowa governor said, stifling a maniacal cackle. “I can’t even get into the number of marriages and the fact that his children — the relationships he has with his children — and what kind of circumstances New York was in before September 11.” Vilsack, by suggesting that the race is going to get ugly between Hillary and Rudy, is broaching a new tactic for the campaign: framing the election as a choice between the two. By subtly encouraging voters to imagine what will happen between Hillary and Rudy, she’s helping to anoint herself as the de facto Democratic nominee. Gadzooks!
It’s a move that only Hillary could pull. Currently, her rivals John Edwards and Barack Obama don’t have a lot of negatives — they’re inoffensive, their political history is shallow, and they don’t have a lot of enemies. They’re basically the political versions of Nilla Wafers. But Hillary’s negatives are about as powerful as they can get — in other words, it would be hard for them to get any worse. So she, unlike Obama or Edwards, can get into mudslinging with minimal risk. What’s the worst that could happen, people are going to think she’s a manipulative bitch? Mmm. Oh yeah, they already do.