One of the top attacks on Hillary Clinton in her quest to earn the Democratic presidential nomination is that she can’t seem to inspire the same sort of passion among her younger supporters that her chief challenger, 74-year-old Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, does.
At Monday night’s CNN-sponsored Democratic “town hall,” Clinton faced a young questioner, leaning toward Sanders, who said asked about the lack of enthusiasm for Clinton among voters his age. He added, “I’ve heard from quite a few people my age that they think you’re dishonest.”
Clinton tailored her answer to new voters, who might not have long-term memories of the various allegations, criminal and otherwise, that have beset her and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, since he was a state-level politician in Arkansas.
“Look, I’ve been around a long time. People have thrown all kinds of things at me. I can’t keep up with it,” she said. “I keep going forward; they fall by the wayside.
“But if you’re new to politics, if it’s the first time you’ve really paid attentions you go, ‘Oh, my gosh, look at all of this. And you have to say to yourself, ‘Why are they throwing all of that?’ Well, I’ll tell you why. It’s because I’ve been on the front lines of change and progress since I was your age.”
Saying she was pleased to see young people involved in the race, she urged them to look past the negativity of the race.
“Don’t get discouraged,” she said. “It’s hard. If it were easy, hey, there wouldn’t be any contest. But it’s not easy. There are very different visions, different values, different forces at work, and you have to have somebody who is a proven, proven fighter.”
In any other race, reminding a key voting block that she is decades older than they are might be a strike against her. But considering that Clinton is 68 and Sanders is 74, pointing out her long years of public service might just help Clinton.