Hillary Is True to Her Selfie
Sen. Rand Paul steps off the low stage and into the crowd. He is wearing a white shirt, a red tie, no jacket and bluejeans.
He looks like either a relaxed candidate for president or a waiter about to tell you his name.
Those in the Nashua, New Hampshire, crowd beat their hands together for him. He has done pretty well at once again trying to thread the needle of being what he calls "libertarian-ish."
He is pro-wealth, but he wants "tax cuts to help poor people."
He is not isolationist, but he says, "There's a group of folks in our party who would have troops in six countries right now."
At the moment, his political philosophy can best be described as flexible.
He may or may not be a top-tier candidate. It depends on which poll you look at. But it doesn't matter to me. Neither does his speech, which I've heard before, or his attire.
What impresses me about Paul is that he has a guy taking selfies for him.
Purists would tell you that selfies are cellphone pictures taken by the cellphone owner while attached limpet-like to a celebrity.
But not really. Twitter is full of pictures labeled as selfies that are clearly taken by third parties. Selfies are just too difficult to take and often make you look like gaping goldfish.
(One solution is to buy a device called a selfie stick, which holds your phone anywhere from about 1 to 4 feet away from you. But how much of a doofus do you have to be to walk around carrying a selfie stick?)
People in the crowd now surround Paul. One woman in a red dress bellows at him to remain true to his ideals — whatever those might be — but the rest just want pictures with him.
It used to be autographs, which the candidates could scrawl in a few seconds.
Selfies, however, can take an agonizing amount of time.
"No, wait a minute. That one didn't come out," a crowd member will say while clinging to the candidate. "I don't think the flash went off. I don't think it was in focus. It cut my head off."
The candidate must endure all this — because the candidate must endure everything when it comes to the public. Candidates must appear to be good sports, whether they loathe the public or not. So they must stand stock-still for botched selfie after botched selfie.
But Paul has solved the problem. He has invented or adopted the Selfie Guy.
Walking beside Paul is a guy who apparently knows how to operate every cellphone camera in existence. And when you grab Paul and ask him for a selfie, the Selfie Guy steps in, takes your camera and snaps a picture of you and Paul.
He does this with lightning speed, and the candidate must pause for only a second or two for each picture.
I check Google for pictures of Hillary Clinton campaigning in Iowa last week. She avoided large groups of voters but occasionally was trapped with them and their cellphone cameras.
One in a series of photos taken by the photographers of Getty Images has this caption: "Democratic presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stops to take a selfie after meeting with members of the Iowa ... legislature at the Iowa State (Capitol)."
The young woman taking the selfie is dressed in orange. Her mouth is open in a wide "O" of delight as she takes a cellphone picture with Hillary, who is dressed all in black but is sporting a million-dollar smile. (Say what you want about Hillary, but she can really smile when she wants to.)
But the question is now out there in the open: Why doesn't Hillary have a Selfie Guy?
She is supposed to have the most advanced campaign, with the best advisers, gurus, planners and aides.
So how come nobody thought of a Selfie Guy?
Bill, her husband, would not want a Selfie Guy. When he ran for president, he would stay for hours after each speech, wading through crowds, posing for pictures and shaking every hand. He loved it. He lived for it.
But Bill and Hillary are very different people, and they have very different styles of campaigning. In avoiding big speeches, big crowds and big events at the beginning of her current campaign, she is sending a message: "I'd rather not be campaigning at all. But I will if I have to. A little."
Can we really blame her? She has no credible Democratic opponent. Why should she knock herself out when the deal is done, the cake baked, the nomination won?
We should be darn happy she is going out in public at all, eating the occasional burrito and driving around in the Scooby van.
No doubt, several staff meetings will be held to discuss whether to hire a selfie person. I have a feeling they will decide that now is not the time. "We have a plan," they will say. "Let's stick to the plan."
The plan says: First the video and then the van and then a road trip to Iowa and then two days in New Hampshire. Later something else. Maybe a Selfie Guy. Maybe a reason she wants to be president that is longer than her tweet: "Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion."
On Monday, at a roundtable discussion in Keene, New Hampshire, Hillary told everyone: "Read, talk and sing to your babies."
And take selfies with them. Children, like presidential campaigns, can grow up faster than you think.
Roger Simon is Politico's chief political columnist. His new e-book, "Reckoning: Campaign 2012 and the Fight for the Soul of America," can be found on Amazon.com, BN.com and iTunes. To find out more about Roger Simon and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com.
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