Brooklyn is casting a wary eye at the latest hipster who might be moving in: Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonNYT columnist floats Biden-Cheney ticket in 2024 Centrist Democrats urge progressives to tamp down rhetoric Stacey Abrams's shocking snub of Biden, Harris signals possible 2024 aspirations MORE.
The news that Clinton is considering running her expected 2016 presidential campaign from New York City’s most populous borough is being greeted in Gotham with surprise and snark.
It “just goes to show you that Brooklyn is now whiter than ever,” said Livia Scott, a sketch comedian at the popular Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre who lives in New York and has seen the borough’s gentrification over the years. “So, welcome, Hillary!”
While Clinton’s campaign machine might seem an odd match for the East Coast Portlandians who ride fixed-gear bicycles and pride themselves on their ironic facial hair, the idea has been gaining traction in recent weeks. Allies say Clinton had all but ruled out putting her headquarters in the Westchester County suburbs of White Plains near her Chappaqua, N.Y., home, as The Hill first reported on Monday.
The Daily News on Tuesday reported that Clinton aides have already scoped out office space in Brooklyn Heights, just across the river from Manhattan.
“Well, she already has the hipster black-rimmed glasses,” one Clinton ally said. “Now she just needs some plaid and a carefree attitude and maybe an education of Mumford and Sons.”
Another Democratic consultant said the idea of putting Clinton headquarters in the borough is “completely understandable,” but questioned whether it would send the right message.
“The people who think it’s a great idea are the same people who think ‘Girls’ is good,” the consultant said about the HBO series centered on an aspiring writer and her friends in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
The Twitterverse reacted to the headquarters plan by labeling Clinton “Hipster Hillary,” with some calling the plan “edgy.” The Daily News reported that “Brooklyn may be the new Westchester” for Clinton, while Brooklyn Magazine hailed the borough as “the new Democratic Party mecca” because the party’s nominating convention might be held there in the summer of 2016.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat who was born in Brooklyn and represents parts of the borough, encouraged the move, saying there are plenty of reasons to set up shop.
“It’s a place of vibrancy and great ethnic diversity,” Nadler said in an interview. “It’s symbolic of the vibrancy of the country. It’s one of the reasons the convention ought to be held there.”
The congressman — who said he doesn’t think of himself as a hipster — said he hasn’t lobbied Clinton to put her campaign headquarters in Brooklyn but would do so if asked.
If Clinton were to land across the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan, it would be a vastly different locale from 2008, when her campaign for the White House was based out of the former Immigration and Naturalization Services building in Arlington, Va., a suburb of Washington.
Nadler stopped short of contrasting the two spots but said, “I presume she’s learned a lot about running a presidential campaign. ... Maybe part of that is to pick a better location.”
Observers say it’s clear that Clinton and her allies want to replicate the cool factor generated by Obama’s Windy City operation in 2008, which attracted an army of young volunteers who gave the campaign an edge.
Reid Cherlin, a former Obama spokesman turned writer who left the Beltway for the artisanal goods capital of New York, said the would-be campaign “has the right idea being away from D.C., but Brooklyn might not be the best spot.
“Unless they were to be deep into what you might call ‘real Brooklyn,’ they’re just going to be a few subway stops from the center of the media universe,” Cherlin said. “It’s still better than D.C, but I don’t know that it gets you the fresh air, as it were, that you want.”
“I live in Brooklyn, and I love Brooklyn,” Cherlin added. “So it’s no knock on the borough. But putting the headquarters here also would read as a message move, trying to be cool or whatever, in the way that many brands are now doing. But I don’t see a real benefit to that for them. And I don’t actually think they do, either.”
Cherlin suggested that the borough of Queens might be a better match for the campaign, saying it has “more real people” and is “close to the power centers but psychologically less so.”
Scott, on the other hand, called a Brooklyn-based campaign a “no-brainer.”
“It’s a wise move for the people who are advising her,” she said. “It’s all about what’s cool. If she’s going to win, she’s going to have to get the cool vote. It’s not about capturing the young vote but capturing the cool-geist.”
Still, she deadpanned: “The people who are most cool have probably moved to Philadelphia by now.”