About 7 months ago Hillary Clinton made quite a fuss about going into the Republican heartland for Nancy Reagan's funeral. She was keen to impress centrist Republicans and praised Nancy on HIV/Aids.
“It may be hard for your viewers to remember how difficult it was for people to talk about HIV/Aids back in the 1980s,” the Democratic frontrunner told MSNBCin an interview at the funeral, which was held at the Reagan presidential library in Simi Valley, California.
Clinton continued: “Because of both president and Mrs Reagan, in particular Mrs Reagan, we started a national conversation when before nobody would talk about it, nobody wanted to do anything about it, and that, too, is something that I really appreciate. With her very effective, low-key advocacy … it penetrated the public conscience and people began to say: ‘Hey, we have to do something about this too.’”
Within hours activists in the LGBTI et al community who disagreed with Hillary's rose-coloured Reagan recollection were making their displeasure known.
Here's what happened next (from leaked internal Clinton team emails) - this first email from the LGBTI segment marketing manager Dominic Lowell)
I wanted to start a new thread to give a brief update about what I'm hearing from folks and get up to speed on how we're thinking of responding in the short and long term. (Sending to a smaller group from yesterday's call but please do loop in others who should be a part of this convo.)
First, as you can imagine, most people are expressing palpable anger and hurt over the comments. I won't belabor the point because I'm sure weall fielded calls, texts, tweets in the last 24 hours over this. But suffice to say, we aren't in a good place with the community right now.
If I had to break things down, I'd put people into three categories:
1) supporters who were horrified at the comment but accept the apology;
2) supporters who are angry and can only be mollified with a longer statement, tv appearance, roundtable, or something else big that shows she "gets it." They will continue to make hay in the meantime; and
3) Bernie folks who are happy to have a new line of attack. What concerns me is that in that second group are a lot folks from Queer Nation, ACT UP, and other activists who are out, loud, and not afraid of direct action or aggressive confrontation.
Given that, I'd love if we could build on yesterday's response -- and quickly. I don't want this to fester.
I assume we're prepping an answer for tomorrow's town hall, but has there been talk in the office of doing more today?
Looking ahead, is it possible to bump up an HIV / AIDS policy rollout? Is there any interest in putting a roundtable conversation or OTR together?(Robbie Kaplan has already volunteered GMHC.)
Would love to know where your heads are at and to be a part of the conversation today about next steps and moving forward.
There followed much more than a flurry - it was a snowstorm of plans from various elements of the Clinton behemoth. Here's a sample:
Here's Robby (lots of diminutives in this group, Teddy, 2 Robby's) Mook, the Clinton Campaign Manager.
Hillary liked Robby's approach.
Robby got the team's thumbs up!
To cut a long story short - what started out as Hillary Clinton saying this to the mainstream media:
“Because of both president and Mrs Reagan, in particular Mrs Reagan, we started a national conversation when before nobody would talk about it, nobody wanted to do anything about it, and that, too, is something that I really appreciate. With her very effective, low-key advocacy … it penetrated the public conscience and people began to say: ‘Hey, we have to do something about this too.’”
Turned into this presented directly to the offended LGBTI community:
I’ve heard from countless people who are hurt and disappointed by what I >> said yesterday at Nancy Reagan's funeral about the Reagans' record on >> HIV/AIDS, and I understand why. The comment was just wrong, and I said so >> right away. >> >> >> The Reagans did not start a national conversation about HIV/AIDS. >> Unfortunately, the opposite is true. That distinction belongs to >> generations of brave men and women who started not just a conversation, but >> a movement that continues to this day. >> >> >> The AIDS crisis in America began as a quiet, deadly epidemic. When many >> in positions of power turned a blind eye, it was groups like ACT UP, Gay >> Men’s Health Crisis, and others that came forward to shatter the silence. >> They organized and marched, held die-ins on the steps of city halls and >> vigils in the streets. They fought alongside a few courageous voices in >> Washington, like U.S. Representative Henry Waxman, who spoke out from the >> floor of Congress. >> >> >> Then there were all the people whose names we don’t hear and maybe don't >> even know – the unsung heroes who fought on the front lines of the crisis, >> from hospital wards and bedsides, some with their last breath. Slowly, too >> slowly, ignorance was crowded out by information. People who had once >> closed their eyes opened their hearts. >> >> >> If not for those advocates, activists, and ordinary people, we would not >> be where we are in preventing and treating HIV/AIDS. Their courage and >> their refusal to accept silence as the status quo saved lives. >> >> >> We’ve come a long way since. But we still have work to do to eradicate >> this disease for good, and erase the stigma that is an echo of a shameful >> and painful period in our country’s history. >> >> >> This is work that I’ve been committed to for a long time. As First Lady, >> I brought together world leaders to strategize and coordinate efforts to >> take on HIV/AIDS around the globe. In the Senate, I put forward legislation >> to expand global AIDS research and assistance, and increase prevention and >> education. And as Secretary of State, I launched a campaign to usher in an >> AIDS-free generation through prevention and treatment, targeting the >> populations at greatest risk of contracting HIV (including key populations >> at risk of discrimination), and investing in innovative research and >> technology. >> >> >> I believe there’s even more we can do together. For starters, we should >> call on Republican governors to put people’s health and well-being ahead of >> politics and extend Medicaid, which would provide health care to those >> living with HIV/AIDS. And we should cap out-of-pocket expenses, and hold >> companies like Turing and Valeant accountable when they attempt to gouge >> prices of lifesaving medications. And we should expand access to >> medications like PrEP. >> >> >> The AIDS crisis looks very different today. We’re still surrounded by >> memories of loved ones lost and lives cut short. But we’re also surrounded >> by survivors who are fighting harder than ever. We owe it to them, and to >> future generations, to continue that fight together. There are more >> options for treatment and prevention than ever before. More people with HIV >> are leading full, happy lives. For the first time, an AIDS-free generation >> is in sight. And we can’t let up until we reach that goal.
There's plenty more in this email chain about the cynical way the Clinton Campaign Team isolates groups of interest, assigns a marketing manager to each of them (with a title like "Outreach Director" or similar), constantly monitors each segment and presents a specific tailored message to address concerns and to escalate and exaggerate tensions on the opposition's approach to the segment.
Incredibly, this email extends the work on the issue.