YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio—A good portion of the coverage of the Democratic primary contest has been marked, some might say marred, by boxing metaphors. It’s a constant struggle, apparently, to resist words like knockout, jab, punch and ring.
But today Hillary Clinton gave the press no choice.
Speaking on a stage with Youngstown, Ohio native and Middleweight boxing champion Kelly Pavlik (“I’m not just a fighter I’m a father”), Clinton laid it on thick.
Clinton said she was inspired “after seeing the way that Kelly came back, when people were ready to count him out,” and said that Bill Clinton said of Kelly’s rematch victory against Arkansas native Jermain Taylor, “I think I just saw another Comeback Kid and his name is Kelly.”
Clinton, who has suffered 11 consecutive electoral defeats, added, “In life you get knocked down from time to time.” And, “I’ve seen the grit and determination of people in Youngstown and across Ohio and we’re coming back!” And “We need a fighter—a doer and a champion in the White House.”
She wasn’t done.
When the crowd, holding up homemade campaign signs (“232 Years of Men, A Woman for a Change”) and having their cheers amplified by speakers trained at the press, became especially enthusiastic, Clinton said, “This is an enthusiastic crowd—Kelly this is like being at one of your fights here.”
Besides the sweet-science references, Clinton hit (see!) Barack Obama on what she said was his unpreparedness to answer the proverbial 3:00 AM phone call as commander in chief. “You never know what crisis is going to happen . We need a President and commander in chief who is ready to answer that phone,” she said.
To underscore the idea that Obama is ill-prepared to be President, she pointed to what she said was his vagueness on important issues like NAFTA. “Unlike my opponent in the primary, I put forth a very specific plan of what I would do,” she said.
She said that she was the safer, smarter and stronger choice on March 4.
“I don’t want anyone in Youngstown taking a leap of faith on me,” she said.
“Too many politicians” had come into the economically struggling town on the state’s eastern border with Pennsylvania “giving beautiful speeches” but producing no results.
At the end of the speech Pavlik raised her arm as if she had just won a bout. The music that cranked from the speakers was a remix of Elvis Presley’s “A Little Less Conversation” and then Gloria Estefan’s “Get on Your Feet,” which has the chorus “Stand Up and Take Some Action.”
With only two days until what is potentially the most important Election Day of her career, there is no more time for subtlety.