September 8, 2015

SALENA ZITO: Hillary Misses Mark With Millennials.

What looked like a block-long line turned out to be a crowd that could barely fill one-fourth of a football field. And the students in attendance? Well, they weren’t exactly there to support the former secretary of State.

“I am sort of a Bernie (Sanders) fan. I also had nothing else to do at 10 in the morning,” said Brian Miller, a chemical engineering student from Pittsburgh, waiting with more than a dozen friends for the event to start.

David Lituchy of Morgantown, W.Va., was there on the off-chance he’d see a different Clinton: “I am here for Bill. He would definitely liven things up here.”

He said he’s leaning toward Sanders, too.

Such sentiment wasn’t anecdotal; scores of students expressed it, and you didn’t need to interview anyone to know that Clinton has political problems beyond her email controversy.

The event here wasn’t just a failure to connect with millennials, but a fundamental inability to read her audience and adjust her speech — or perhaps laziness, or a sense of entitlement that she shouldn’t have to work this hard for support. Perhaps it was all of that. . . .

A good politician would have noticed when he took the stage that the audience was filled with kids who likely did not grow up in Ohio (19 percent of Case Western Reserve University students are foreign-born) and were barely 12 years old when Clinton battled to win the state in 2008.

Instead, Clinton launched into a memorial for Ohio congressmen who were significant long before these kids were politically aware, then thanked the kids for their votes in 2008. (Again, they would have been 12 back then.)

“You lifted me up when I was down and out,” she said, referring to Ohio voters who got her flailing 2008 campaign back on its feet temporarily.

There wasn’t the sound of crickets chirping, but no one picked up what she put down.

Clinton spoke for 30 minutes on voter suppression, gun control, women’s reproductive rights; she called Republicans “terrorists” and championed foster care. The only time she caught the audience’s attention was with a brief mention of college affordability.

It was as if time had passed her by.

It has. She’s so stale that a 74-year-old Montgomery Burns lookalike is fresher.

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