In what one analyst sees as "a really bad mistake," Hillary Clinton declined to participate in a presidential forum hosted by the 8 million-strong organization MoveOn.org.
Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley did take part in the virtual event in which they answered questions on issues ranging from campaign finance reform to climate change to the Syrian refugee crisis. The organization rolled out full video of the event Tuesday. (Watch the event here.)
"It’s a shame that Secretary Clinton declined to participate in the MoveOn member forum," Anna Galland, the executive director of MoveOn.org Civic Action, said in a statement to The Hill. "She missed an opportunity to speak directly to and energize the progressive base she’ll need in her corner not just to win the nomination but also the general election, if she is the party's nominee."
"Our forum gave grassroots progressives the chance to pose substantive questions directly to presidential candidates—exactly what democracy is about— and we’re grateful to Sen. Sanders and Gov. O’Malley for participating," Galland's statement continued.
Ilya Sheyman, executive director of MoveOn.org Political Action, said last month that the forum would "help Democratic candidates engage with millions of progressive Americans who constitute an influential part of the party’s base and who will play a significant role in the coming primaries and caucuses." That's a point noted by Democratic strategist Mike Lux, who told MSNBC that Clinton's missing the event was "a really bad mistake."
"She’s blowing that part of the [Democratic] base off, and with 8 million members, that’s a lot of people," he said.
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But Clinton's opting out of the forum may come as no surprise. As Common Dreams reported last week:
From her call for a major air and ground war against ISIS to her attack on single-payer, observers note that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is rapidly shedding her "progressive" façade as she grows increasingly confident she has the Democratic nomination locked down (an assumption which, evidence shows, is debatable).
This trend comes despite her declaration during the first Democratic debate in October, after being pressed by the CNN moderator: "I don't take a backseat to anyone when it comes to progressive experience and progressive commitment."
A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday found that Clinton has the support of 51 percent of Iowa Democratic caucus-goers, compared to Sanders' 42 percent.
"It's not that Iowa Democrats are in love with Secretary Clinton right now. They even think Sanders would be better handling the economy, generally the hallmark of the candidate who wins the Democratic nomination," Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said in a media statement. "But despite all the things about Clinton that gives Democrats pause, there is one thing that unites them: She looks like a winner in November."