Hillary ‘the inevitable’ changes strategy to head off Joe Biden – Telegraph.co.uk

It marks a major change in strategy: after long playing down what many saw as Mrs Clinton’s weaknesses – her previous life as first lady, her clear frontrunner status and support among party grandees – Team Hillary plans to steamroller her opponents before they can get any more of a toehold on the rce.

In recent weeks, the insurgent campaign of Bernie Sanders, the self-declared socialist senator for Vermont, has gained ground.

And there has been renewed speculation that Joe Biden, the vice president, is planning to enter the race, prompted by Mrs Clinton’s missteps – including frosty relations with journalists and her inability to end questions about her use of email during her time as secretary of state.

In Minneapolis, she left her rivals to aim insults at her while she focused on Republican-bashing and describing her programme of economic reform.

“Raising incomes and supporting families is the defining economic challenge of our time,” she said during a speech peppered with standing ovations and chants of “Hillary”.

Gone it seems are the days when Mrs Clinton drove across the US in a minivan nicknamed Scooby or advisers boasted of how little money was being spent and staff were sleeping on supporters’ sofas.

Amid mounting concerns that the campaign was struggling, advisers have been respinning it something of a political behemoth.

A member of her campaign told Bloomberg at the end of the week she had already tied up 440 of about 700 superdelegates who will at the Democratic National Convention next summer to select a candidate – or about 20 percent of the number she needs to win.

“She is embracing the inevitability narrative that her campaign has tried for so long to reject,” said an adviser to a rival.

The latest average of opinion polls calculated by Real Clear Politics, still shows Mrs Clinton at almost 50%, a commanding lead over Mr Sanders her nearest rival. And this week she outdid even Mr Trump on social media when one of her tweets about women in the workplace was retweeted more than any other candidate’s, showing her depth of support.

But the lessons of 2008, when Mrs Clinton lost to Barack Obama despite being overwhelming favourite, informed the early part of this year’s campaign, said Costas Panagopoulos, director of elections and campaign management programme at Fordham University, said the apparent change was

“I think the campaign was careful not to present itself as the eventual winner initially but with a Biden candidacy looming on the horizon they may be trying to remind voters of her strengths in this race and the prospects for victory,” he said.

“That could potentially secure a lot of support for her candidacy.”

And rather than letting the process drag on next year, the aim is to crush the opposition in March.

As the political website Politico put it: “If it works the former secretary of state will have wrapped up the party’s nomination before spring ends—with only 32 states and two territories having voted—thereby avoiding the kind of protracted battle that consumed much of 2008.”

Friday’s stump speeches in Minneapolis were a crucial chance to woo super-delegates, party figures who are free to choose any candidates.

Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland who is a distant third in the running, used the platform to complain that the process was slanted against outsiders.

“This is totally unprecedented in our party’s history,” he said. “This sort of rigged process has never been attempted before.”

Mr Sanders railed against politics as usual. “The same-old same-old will not work,” he said, in an obvious dig at the only candidate to have lived at the White House.

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But while her rivals focused on the Democrat race and internal politics, Mrs Clinton kept her aim on Mr Trump.

“A lot of people have said a lot of things about my hair over the years. So I do kind of know what Donald is going through,” she said, to howls of laughter.

“And if anyone wonders if mine is real, here’s the answer: The hair is real; the colour isn’t. And come to think of it I wonder if that’s true for Donald, too.”

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