Unwilling to cede all of Wednesday night to Republican presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton took her charm offensive to the friendly confines of “The Tonight Show” in a bid to revive her standing in the polls.
As Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has cut into or completely erased her once astronomical lead in national and early primary state surveys, Clinton’s campaign is making “new efforts to bring spontaneity to a candidacy that sometimes seems wooden and overly cautious,” The New York Times reported last week.
Her appearance with Jimmy Fallon may have checked all the boxes for the presumed Democratic frontrunner, but it won’t convince anyone that her campaign is done being overly cautious.
It began with a skit in which host Jimmy Fallon donned a wig and makeup to imitate GOP frontrunner Donald Trump and called Clinton to discuss women, immigration and Bernie Sanders.
“I haven't seen you since my last wedding,” Fallon joked.
"Well, I'm sure I'll see you at the next one,” Clinton replied. She reached for a glass of white wine mid-skit as the fake prep talk dragged on.
Clinton eventually moved to the show’s couch, where she and Fallon reminisced about parenting advice the former secretary of state had given him.
Clinton also addressed the months-long scandal over her use of a private email server while acting as the nation’s top diplomat. She acknowledged fault for the unique arrangement, but attributed the controversy over whether she sent classified information via the system to in-fighting among government agencies.
“The most significant one that has come to light — this was a really important issue and I had to talk about it on the email — was I was asked if I could get gefilte fish into Israel … to be used in time for Passover,” she said.
“The stuff that’s in it is really boring people, which kind of hurts my feelings,” Clinton added.
Ultimately, it’s unclear if the interview will win Clinton any new supporters. The appearance wasn’t a gamble for her, given the receptive audience.
The light-hearted conversation, which has been drowned out by coverage of the second GOP presidential debate of the season, couldn’t have been more different than the one Vice President Joe Biden had last week on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”
Biden won tremendous praise for speaking openly and movingly about the impact the recent death of his son Beau has had on him and family and how he isn’t sure he’s emotionally ready to run for the White House.
Clinton’s stop on the late night talk show circuit also stood in stark contrast to the speech Sanders delivered earlier this week at Liberty University, a hotbed for conservative activism.
The Vermont lawmaker, a self-described democratic socialist, stood by his left-leaning positions and urged any hardliners to keep their minds open to finding common ground with liberals on moral issues such as poverty.
A recent CNN/ORC poll shows that Sanders has cut Clinton’s national lead to 10 percentage points, and he’s topped Clinton in a handful of Iowa and New Hampshire polls.
Clinton jokingly addressed the tightening race during her sketch with fake Trump.
“Do you have any idea what it's like to work so hard for something, to be so close to getting it, then someone pops out of nowhere and tries to take it all away?" she asked.
“Are you talking about Bernie Sanders? I hate to say this but I think he’s losing his hair,” Fallon as Trump replied.