Among the great difficulties Hillary Clinton's campaign has faced is how to counter Sen. Bernie Sanders' appeal to the idealism of liberal voters, particularly young people.
Clinton's allies have made efforts to frighten voters about Sanders, to warn that he could sink the Democratic ticket if he were the nominee, even, briefly, to raise doubts about his health. None of that has worked.
Wednesday, the campaign's No. 1 surrogate, Bill Clinton, made a more straightforward argument: realism.
Speaking to campaign volunteers and staff in Salem, N.H., the former president conceded that his wife trails Sanders in the state, which holds its first-in-the-nation primary Feb. 9.
“We’re fighting it out in Iowa. We’ve got a little lead that I think is solidifying and maybe growing a little bit," he said. "We’re on a home field disadvantage here. But the real issue is, who can win the election, who’s prepared the do the job, who can make real change?”
Voters need to think about “the practical reality” of making change, he said. Sanders, for example, has proposed a single-payer healthcare system, which would replace President Obama's signature health law.
Diving back into the healthcare debate while Republicans control Congress would be “a recipe for gridlock, and we can’t afford it,” Clinton said.
By contrast, Hillary Clinton, "every day she thinks, what can I do to make it better? Some people think it’s incremental. I think it’s realistic,” he said.
“Lyndon Johnson said you can talk about miles when you speak, but sometimes you’re making progress in inches," he added. Former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo "said we campaign in poetry but we govern in prose. We can’t wait. We’ve got to get this show on the road."