07222019What's Hot:

Radio Free Hillary

PHILADELPHIA — It was Oct. 26, Hillary Clinton’s 69th birthday, two weeks before Election Day, and the Democratic nominee was being grilled about her favorite dance style on the radio.

“No, I’m not a robot — I don’t do the robot stuff,” Clinton joked. “But I love to dance. I love the way people just kind of lose themselves, right?”

Story Continued Below

Clinton was a guest on The Breakfast Club, an extremely popular, nationally syndicated hip-hop radio show hosted by Charlamagne Tha God, J Envy and Angela Yee.

“We’ve got to close the fun deficit,” Clinton told the hosts. “I’m sick of all this meanness. And why don’t these people who support my opponent go out and have fun dancing? You think they dance?”

Unbeknownst to Clinton’s policy team in Brooklyn, she announced a new initiative on the fly: “I think we need a big national dance.”

It’s been almost two months since Clinton has subjected herself to a hard news television interview — her last was a phoner with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Sept. 12. And she has cooled off on the gaggles she holds with the band of national reporters that travel in the back cabin of her plane.

08_Hillary_clinton_9_gty_1160.jpg

Instead, the Clinton media strategy, in the final stretch of the race, has depended almost entirely on rapid-fire local radio interviews with friendly African-American and Latino hosts on shows that air in the battleground states. In the past month during her national television blackout, Clinton has participated in 30 local radio interviews, flying almost completely under the radar of the national media.

The quick hits — usually between five and 15 minutes apiece — are a critical part of the campaign’s get out the vote strategy. In between her banter about dancing and fun, Clinton is spending her time on the FM dials to remind African-American and Latino listeners to vote early. She also touts her criminal justice and immigration plans, and spends time heaping praise on her best surrogates in the black community: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

Amid concerns that African-American turnout could be lagging behind 2012 and 2008 levels — in Florida, for instance, black turnout at early voting sites appeared to be down to 15 percent from 25 percent four years ago — the outreach on black radio programs has become critical for Clinton.

Local radio “is a way to reach targeted, but large, number of voters in the states that we are most concerned about,” explained communications director Jennifer Palmieri. “Sometimes, the old-fashioned tactics work. We’ve been particularly aggressive and she’s been very disciplined about doing it.”

Added campaign manager Robby Mook, “a lot of our targets are female. They spend a lot of time in the car, driving around. This is a really effective method.”

It also helps that the targeted radio interviews are typically conducted by hosts who introduce themselves as unabashed Clinton supporters. Brian Dawson of Radio One Raleigh, for instance, opened his interview on Nov. 4 gushing like a fanboy, admitting to Clinton, “I have a long love affair with you and your husband.” Dawson is unlikely to press the former secretary of state on her private email server, or question her about what she said in her paid speeches to Goldman Sachs. Like Dawson, the hosts Clinton dials into are almost universally interested in providing the former secretary of state with a platform to persuade.

“I have a lot of millennial listeners here,” Dawson said. “Will you tell them what you’re going to do to unite the country and your plan to be the president for everybody.”

161105-Hillary-Clinton-AP_16310658180097.jpg

“I’m really glad you asked that,” Clinton said.

But the softball interviews pose a unique challenge for a candidate often criticized for being overly scripted: In between her early voting pitch, Clinton has to demonstrate that she is, even in a self-deprecating “Grandma” kind of way, fun, cool, and most importantly, in on the joke.

“I went to Michelle’s 50th birthday party and Beyonce performed, and that was great dancing,” she told one of the hosts of The Breakfast Club, Charlamagne Tha God.

“You pronounced it right,” he said. (Clinton, in the past, has pronounced the name of the country’s most famous pop star as a word that sounded more like “bounce.”)

“Yeah, Clinton replied, “learned how.”

In a recent interview with Cyndi LaFrese on KRQQ in Tuscon, Arizona, Clinton talked about how she made for a popular Halloween costume this year. “I saw some pictures of what Katy Perry did to make herself look like me for Halloween. She really went all out,” Clinton said. “I thought it was pretty funny.”

When asked why voting matters, she gushed to LaFrese, “Oh my gosh, Cyndi. Your vote does matter. It really does.”

Speaking with Ricardo Sanchez from “El Show del Mandril,” which reaches more than 400 stations in Mexico, Clinton — a spicy food aficionado who is known to carry hot sauce in her purse — was asked about her favorite Mexican food. “Tacos el pastor,” she said without missing a beat. “I recently ordered that at Tacos el Gordo in Vegas and it was delicious.”

On Saturday, four days out from Election Day, Clinton started her day in Miami, as she now often does, with a stop at the studio. There, she taped an interview with the “Steve Harvey Morning Show,” and one with Roland Martin of NewsOne Now’s “The Roland Martin Show,” both of whom have large African-American followings. The interviews are scheduled to air during Monday-morning rush hour.

So far the, strategy appears to be helping. In Florida, early voting among Hispanics was up by at least 200,000 from the same period four years ago, the New York Times reported. Hispanic turnout was also up in Arizona. But when it comes to African-American voters, Clinton still has her work cut out.

Hillary Clinton speaks during heavy rain at a rally at C.B. Smith Park in Pembroke Pines, Florida on Nov. 5.

In many of the interviews with black radio hosts, Clinton spends time praising Obama for the “grace and grit” he has demonstrated despite the gridlock that has confronted him in Washington, D.C. And she pitches herself as someone who can continue his reforms.

“Everything you care about will be on the ballot,” she told James T, of WHQT in South Florida. “It may be my name, but every issue that is on your mind is going to be on the ballot.”

Clinton may have no more use for the Jake Tappers of the world. But she is all in with a whole new media set. “I appreciate the chance to talk to you and your listeners here at the Sweat Hotel,” she told nationally syndicated radio host Keith Sweat, the former “new jack swing” artist, on Oct. 27. After asking her broadly to describe her plans to “put America back to work,” Sweat asked her whether Bill Clinton still played the sax.

“Yeah, he doesn’t have a lot of time, but I’ve told him that it would be good if he got warmed back up so that he could do that while he was in the White House again,” Clinton said. “Wouldn’t that be a good idea?”

The quick hits have sometimes lead to perhaps accidental moments of honesty — or exhaustion. “I’m pumped up on why to vote,” Sam Sylk of WZAK 93.1 in Cleveland, Ohio, told Clinton in an interview on Oct. 24.

Clinton laughed. “Well, that makes one of us.”

“Yeah, makes one of us, huh?” a perplexed-sounding Sylk said. “OK.”

Source: POLITICO – TOP Stories

comments powered by HyperComments

More on the topic