For decades now, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s friends have complained that the general public does not recognize the Hillary they know — a loyal friend and mentor, a driven activist and public servant, and a resilient woman of faith.
A super PAC supporting Clinton’s presidential candidacy is attempting to remedy that with a nearly $1 million project designed to soften the Democratic front-runner’s image and improve her relatability with voters.
Correct the Record on Monday is launching “Let’s Talk Hillary,” featuring people sharing stories about their friendships with Clinton and the effect she has had on their lives, from her childhood in Chicago and college years at Wellesley through her time as first lady and secretary of state.
The centerpiece is a biographical video series featuring hundreds of interviews. A memo explaining the project and shared with The Washington Post described the interviews as “authentic grassroots stories presented in an authentic grassroots style” and said they would be unscripted and filmed “professionally but simply, devoid of glitz or fanfare.”
The super PAC’s effort comes after a summer in which Clinton’s favorability ratings fell sharply, dragged down by growing doubts about her honesty and trustworthiness.
“Let’s Talk Hillary” was created by Allida Black, a longtime supporter who co-founded Ready for Hillary, which laid the groundwork for Clinton’s presidential bid. It will be funded by and run out of Correct the Record, the David Brock-helmed group that works with Clinton’s official campaign on communications strategy.
Black is an academic historian and a leading expert on former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. She said she is approaching the Clinton project with the same rigor she would an academic oral history. “This is ambitious, honey,” she said. “I don’t dream small, and neither does Hillary.”
Black aims to tell the narrative through dozens of two-minute videos, a format she hopes voters will find accessible and share online.
“I want people to see that Hillary’s heart is as big as her brain,” Black said. “The more time that I have spent as an historian looking at Hillary’s life, the more I’m stunned by why this story hasn’t been told. It’s extraordinarily interesting.”
The project’s rollout is pegged to Clinton’s 68th birthday on Monday, when a Web site will debut with the first two videos. One features Arkansans talking about Clinton’s advocacy for children and families as the state’s first lady, while another features friends wishing her a happy birthday.
Black and her team — Matt Lochman of Wild Onion Media, who oversees the video production, and Connor Shaw, who manages the project at Correct the Record — have filmed in Arkansas and Chicago so far. But they are planning to conduct interviews soon in New York, Washington and elsewhere. Black envisions future episodes about Clinton working as a political organizer in Texas in 1972 or promoting economic development in Upstate New York as a senator, for example.
In a draft of an announcement to be e-mailed to supporters Monday, Black writes: “You’ll get to know Hillary as a friend, mom, mentor, colleague, activist, public servant, and woman of faith. And I promise — these stories are amazing! They’ll make you laugh and smile and they’ll make you more determined than ever to ensure that Hillary becomes the next president of the United States.”