From International Herald Tribune:
Letter from Washington: Hillary Clinton's hold on the reins awaits a severe shake
By Albert R. Hunt Bloomberg NewsPublished: October 14, 2007
WASHINGTON: During the past 15 years, I've been to three small dinners with Hillary Clinton. As expected, her substantive command of whatever the topic was impressive.
More surprising was that each time I came away struck by her ability to charm, and even by her decent sense of humor. So did the others, including a cadre of hack political journalists like myself who attended two of the sessions.
It is surprising because this isn't the Hillary Clinton, the leading presidential candidate for 2008, who most Americans see out on the stump.
Her campaign has been brilliant. It is great at small stuff like bracket scheduling - making sure she or a surrogate appears right before and after a major appearance by an opponent.
It is equally good on big stuff. Eight months ago, Clinton, 59, was bedeviled by the party's antiwar base for her initial support of the Iraq conflict; today it's practically a nonissue.
The Clinton campaign is efficient, effective, disciplined and tough. It also seems to be joyless, humorless and lacking in heart and soul.
A take-no-prisoners, us-versus-them mindset has served her well. She has widened her lead in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination; most polls show her defeating any Republican in the general election.
Still, there is unusual hostility from neutral, and even some ostensibly pro-Clinton, people, and especially in the press. The media has its sights on Hillary, and scrutiny during the next month promises to be more vigorous than the relatively easy ride she has gotten so far.
That naturally happens to a front-runner. It will be with more vehemence in this case because of greater enmity.
It may not matter now. But invariably there will be a crisis - losing the Iowa caucuses, perhaps a general election upheaval, or some cataclysm early in her presidency - and the sharks will be in the water.
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