July 28, 2016

Clinton Must Now Follow Obama. Good Luck With That.

As Secretary Clinton takes the stage tonight in Philadelphia, she faces the unenviable task of following not only President Obama, whom many are praising for his Wednesday night speech, but also First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. The oratory competition is so tough that politicians thought to be excellent public speakers, like New Jersey’s Cory Booker and even former President Bill Clinton, are getting largely negative reviews.

And that’s a problem, because in addition to being an unskilled politician, Clinton is not a good public speaker:

But Clinton also finds herself in the difficult spot of going last, after some tremendous speeches by her top surrogates — all of whom have demonstrated an uncanny ability to inspire and connect with huge audiences like the one that will fill the Wells Fargo Arena.

Sanders insurgents, still smarting from their primary defeat and an email scandal showing top Democratic leaders trying to undermine the Vermont senator, could boo and embarrass Clinton on stage. There’s the risk of coming off flat, of losing the room, and delivering a speech that’s easily forgotten.

Couple her lack of oratory prowess with a muddled message and a well-established lack of enthusiasm, and Clinton’s job Thursday night got just that much tougher:

With her sometimes-wooden demeanor and workman-like delivery, the former first lady has never shown the natural political talent that her husband had for reading and matching the mood of the electorate.

In that sense, Clinton takes the stage tonight in a vulnerable position. Up to this point, she has not been able to generate the kind of passion among her supporters that Donald Trump has among his by so effectively channeling Americans’ anger about the direction of the country.

Clinton’s spin team will be in full effect before, during, and after the speech to ensure everyone believes she did a great job. But if 30-plus years of public speaking is any guide, tonight’s speech will likely be another dud.