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Hillary, time to exit the stage

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Hillary Clinton’s latest book “What Happened” and her ensuing book tour are the latest examples of the former presidential candidate creating fresh tensions within the Democratic Party. What happened is not terribly complicated: Clinton lost the election to Donald Trump and weakened the Democratic Party in the process. In her book, Secretary Clinton blames her loss on the Russians, former FBI Director James Comey and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), among others, yet the only person she does not seem to blame is herself.

Clinton continues to take the focus away from the party and its elected leaders, weakening those who could actually make a difference in 2018, and eventually 2020. The tension she is causing only exacerbates divisions within the Democratic Party. Clinton continues to focus on the debate and other excuses for her loss.

{mosads}Recently, Clinton was quoted saying that she felt that Trump “was literally breathing down my neck” during a debate, and that she felt “incredibly uncomfortable.” While this generates lots of coverage for her, these anecdotes only distract from the real reasons she lost and the changes the Democratic Party needs to make going forward. 

In the wake of an unpopular president, usually the candidate who lost has a surge in approval ratings. Not only has Clinton not had this increase, her approvals are below those of President Trump. In the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll last month, only 30 percent of voters reported having either a very or somewhat positive feeling about Clinton, while 6 percent more, or 36 percent, viewed Trump positively.

These numbers underscore just how unpopular Clinton is and how weak of a candidate she was. Further, continued national focus on an unpopular Democratic nominee does not bode well for the future of the party. Clinton does not hold elected office or any prominent role in Washington, and clearly does not represent any one specific issue in particular. Projecting herself from the sidelines only hurts the Democratic agenda moving forward.

Democratic Congressman Jared Huffman from California has said that, “there is a collective groan whenever there’s another news cycle about [Clinton].” He explains that her book tour “may be at the worst possible time, as we are fighting some of the most high-stakes policy and institutional battles we may ever see, at a time when we’re trying to bring the party together so we can all move the party forward.”

Today, the likelihood of Clinton exiting the national spotlight and allowing a new generation of party leaders to emerge appears to be slim. Clinton’s continued effort to be a leading figure in the party could severely hurt chances for Democrats in 2018, as well as 2020. As I have said before, her terribly unclear agenda, lack of a plan for economic growth and distasteful attacks against Republicans all led to her inevitable loss. She simply does not stand for anything.

When I worked with Clinton, she shifted from the left to the center and lost to Barack Obama as a centrist. In this past election, she shifted back to the left and lost again. Now she’s blaming her defeat on Sanders and Trump for having more compelling messages, and on Comey, who had every right to possibly indict her. She ought to look at herself and not others.

The Democratic Party must move on from Clinton and promote an alternative agenda. They need to put the past behind them and get back to work for the American people. Sticking to an unpopular candidate with an unpopular message will only leave the party continuously unpopular. Clinton’s self-promotion deters this process and intensifies the problems that Democrats already have.

The Democrats need a unifying message that focuses on economic growth, tax reform, ideological tolerance, and most importantly, an agenda that focuses on traditional values and religion as a positive force. To win in areas of the country like the Midwest, Democrats do not need star athletes or Hollywood celebrities, and they certainly do not need Hillary Clinton. It is time for her to step off the stage, find something productive to do and stop pointing fingers.

Douglas E. Schoen (@DouglasESchoen) served as a pollster for President Clinton. A longtime political consultant and pollster, he is also a Fox News contributor and the author of 11 books. His latest book is “Putin’s Master Plan: To Destroy Europe, Divide NATO, and Restore Russian Power and Global Influence.”

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

Tags Barack Obama Bernie Sanders campaign Democrats Donald Trump Donald Trump Election Hillary Clinton Hillary Clinton Politics Republicans

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