We Can’t Spare This General. She Fights

Hillary Clinton is a fighter. Hillary is not kidding when she counters Rove and says she has been “fighting against these people” for years. In this fighting spirit Hillary is very much like Civil War General Ulysses S. Grant.

When Lincoln was asked to fire Grant, Lincoln refused by saying “I can’t spare this general. He fights.”

Grant was a fighter but he also knew how to build his forces and lead them to victory. Grant was a master tactician and master strategist who listened to the best ideas from others. Grant led the Union forces to victory over slavery and the evil that was the Confederacy.

In contrast, General McClellan, the General replaced by Grant, had talked a good game, usually to get himself out of actual battle. McClellan was a showboat who looked good in his uniform and loved parades. McClellan was a media star. But McClellan did not want to fight. Eventually he ran for president against Lincoln on a Copperhead platform vowing to negotiate with the Confederacy to end the Civil War by compromising on slavery.

As in the 1860s, the United States is very polarized today too. We need a fighter not a showboat. Hillary will fight for our values. We are not talking wars and bloodletting. Hillary will fight to end the Iraq war and to provide universal health care for all Americans and to restore the American economy to a fair and productive engine. Hillary will work with the opposition but on her terms, not theirs. Hillary will work with the opposition but the precondition will be that progressive values that benefit all Americans will be the goal.

To that end Hillary is organizing a massive volunteer organization to complement her excellent campaign team. Hillary will not be dependent on beach vs. ballot decisions for primary victories. Hillary’s campaign, even as it finds itself leading in Iowa is leading in the sunshine states of California and Florida. In Florida the news is very very good for Hillary. In California it is even better.

And with just more than five months until California’s Feb. 5 presidential primary, the effort by the campaign of New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to organize trained volunteers – 1,000 strong across the state – suggests it is no coincidence that she has amassed a 30-point lead in California over her closest Democratic rival, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.

The Democratic front-runner’s California grassroots organizing effort has been dubbed by Clinton campaign strategists as the “1,000-20-200” plan. And it will use “the power of the Internet with traditional field methods to create millions of voter contacts leading up to the Feb. 5 primary,” according to a 27-page “HillStar” campaign manual obtained by The Chronicle.

The Clinton campaign strategy in California is noteworthy for its scope and for its target – to help her secure the votes of potentially millions of absentee voters in California’s rich delegate field before Democratic voters in Iowa and New Hampshire ever weigh in at the polls.

“Politics is about the bottom line,” said Averill “Ace” Smith, Clinton’s California campaign manager, who noted that in 2008, “the largest number of votes cast at a relatively early stage” will be in California.

Beginning Jan. 7 – when voters can begin to cast absentee ballots in the state – “we have a 29-day election” that starts before the current Jan. 14 schedule for the Iowa caucus and the Jan. 22 New Hampshire primary, Smith said. [snip]

This is Hillary the strategist, looking ahead, preparing, not fighting with the tactics of the 2004 election cycle, but using the tactics of 2007.

Presidential candidates are lavishing the lion’s share of money and attention on early primary states such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, and some political strategists suggested the efforts by the Clinton campaign to build, train and organize a California bank of 20,000 volunteers is a savvy move. That could help Clinton guard her front-runner status and construct a crucial firewall against Democratic rivals such as Obama and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards – regardless of the results in Iowa and New Hampshire.

What of the Democratic opposition generals from Chicago?

Obama does not even have a campaign office open yet in California.

Democrats who follow Hillary’s lead around the country will win because she understands the value of preparation and getting out the absentee vote:

The “HillStar” campaign manual notes that “up to half a million votes will be cast in California in the week before the Iowa caucus … (so) for the first time, the California campaign will be in the vanguard of the presidential nomination process.”

Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll, said the permanent absentee voting in California “is becoming one of the big megatrends,” and a closer look at California’s growing numbers could explain why Clinton’s campaign has targeted those absentee voters.

Field Poll studies show that in March 2007, there were 4 million permanent absentee voters in California – nearly 60 percent of them women, he said.

“Women are a bigger segment, and that makes sense,” he said. “Permanent absentees tend to be older, and there are a lot more older women than older men.”

General Grant’s usual standing order was “Advance”. After a victory “Advance”. After a defeat “Advance”. Hillary might be 30 points ahead in California but her standing orders are “Advance”.