politics | August 04, 2015

Mark Leibovich Profiles Hillary Clinton in The New York Times Magazine

In the NYT Mag’s “Re-Re-Re-Introducing Hillary Clinton,” bestselling author Mark Leibovich has written an intimate portrait of the Democratic presidential nominee. The piece is not only a candid snapshot of a veteran politician wading into the media spotlight, but one attempting to banish her “sealed off and inaccessible” reputation and reemerge with a more relatable sense of normalcy—“that most precious cache among politicians.”

Building Connection with Voters

Though Leibovich has “interviewed Clinton many times over the years, in various depths” as chief national correspondent for NYT Mag, her guarded nature means she’s still often referred to as “the most famous person that nobody knows.” In his new article, Leibovich catches Clinton at a crucial juncture on the campaign trail: a time when she's working with senior campaign officials to reintroduce herself—in other words, to “‘package’ and ‘humanize’” herself—for voters. As the former first lady, senator, and secretary of state, and now as 2016 presidential hopeful, it’s more vital than ever for Clinton to endear herself to the American public. And Leibovich has that rare chance to reveal “the person few get to see behind her public casing: the great boss, the chatty girlfriend, always the first to call when a parent dies or a baby is born.”

This humanizing activity has a calculated public dimension: Leibovich catches Clinton reminiscing about driving a young Chelsea Clinton to ballet class at a rally in Portland, quipping about coloring her hair at her kickoff rally in NYC, and descibing a drive to meet a blind date at a rally in Hanover. It also coincides with the public release of “thousands of emails that Clinton had written and received during her time as secretary of state”: intriguing and appealing not for any scandalous details, but for “how they made Clinton appear so relatively ordinary as she went about her rarefied business.”

Seeing a Different Clinton

But Leibovich also collects a host of unguarded—even touching—stories about Clinton, and these serve as one of the article’s most striking features. These range in anecdotes about a young Hillary Rodham washing dishes at 21 in Alaska to laughing at a disparaging mention of her name in the 2007 spy thriller Breach. Leibovich even shares a letter Clinton wrote to a childhood friend and pen pal while she attended Wellesley, capturing the future politician musing on the balance between innocence and experience: “‘I’d play out in the patch of sunlight that broke the density of the elms in front of our house,’” she writes, “‘and pretend there were heavenly movie cameras watching my every move.’”

After reviewing such personal letters, Leibovich comments that “I never viewed Clinton the same way.” It’s testament to Leibovich's journalistic powers that his summary of these letters have the same effect on his readers—in fact, this article has the potential to help Clinton seem more relatable than any ad, speech, or headline could.

With his typical acuity and aplomb, Leibovich breaks down the most fascinating political issues of the day. And with “Re-Re-Re-Reintroducing Hillary Clinton,” he proves that his perspective on the race for the White House—still only heating up—will be one of the most important.

In funny—yet seriously insightful—keynotes, Leibovich takes on Washington and everyone in it. A bestselling author and award-winning journalist, he provides commentary on a political system transformed by wealth, new media, and celebrity. To book Mark Leibovich as a speaker, contact The Lavin Agency Speakers Bureau.