Sanders and Clinton in CNN town hall tonight. By Adam Schultz for Hillary for America

Sanders and Clinton in CNN town hall tonight.
photo: Adam Schultz for Hillary for America

“We’ve gotta get back to the middle. We’ve gotta get back to the big center.” – Hillary Clinton on “Hardball”

SO DEMOCRATS have a town hall tonight on CNN. New Hampshire voters know Hillary Clinton so she should feel comfortable in the setting. The thing she still has to do is present a cohesive, easy to grasp the message. Interviews, like she gave with Chris Matthews on Tuesday, aren’t especially helpful in that purpose.

The quote at the top remains one of Hillary’s problems with her progressive base that has embraced Bernie Sanders. But the back and forth between Hillary Clinton and Chris Matthews was… just plain weird, not to mention horribly polarizing.

Charles Pierce nails it so I don’t have to write it myself.

First of all, what Sanders is calling for is a democratically determined change in how we govern ourselves. He’s not fcking Robespierre. The tumbrels are all in your head, dude. Among other things, Sanders is advocating for the restoration of a financial-reform system that was a pure product of the New Deal and that prevailed for 60-odd years. That’s his “revolution.” Just chill.

[…] This doesn’t have to be the way it goes. HRC is perfectly within her rights to campaign against Sanders on the ground that he is not electable or that his proposals are fanciful. But this is edging dangerously close to marginalizing him and his campaign as somehow extremist and/or vaguely un-American. For example, Matthews really went to town after the interview was over, talking pragmatism and evincing a curious view of 20th century history. He lumped the New Deal and, most spectacularly, the Civil Rights Movement as examples of the kind of incremental centrist change that characterizes American political history.

This is something of my bollocks. Good god, the New Deal was so centrist that the plutocrats of the time tried to organize a goddamn military coup against it. And the reason that the Democrats became the party of the Civil Rights Movement is that thousands of people in the streets, and more than a few martyrs, forced a series of presidents to move, however deliberately, and forced the party to change an identity to which it had clung since Stephen A. Douglas was the party’s nominee. This is not the way the Democratic campaign should be conducted. Bernie Sanders is running a campaign completely within what can reasonably be called the mainstream of his party and of our politics. Discreet red-baiting and disingenuous scaremongering helps nobody.

It is why when Clinton says she’s a progressive who can get things done it’s easy to draw a line to compromising, promising deals in advance, something people who want progress to be more than incremental hate.

“The middle” or “the big center,” as Clinton calls it, is an obvious wink to the neoliberals in the Democratic party, especially Bill Clinton’s “third-way” crowd, which is what makes progressives so skeptical of her. It sends a signal to Republicans too.

It’s why when pushed Hillary Clinton has said she’s a “moderate.”

They know New Hampshire will be tough so the campaign is focused on the states beyond.

Reporting from Greg Sargent, a leaked strategy memo.

“The voters of New Hampshire have a history of supporting candidates from New England. So it’s not surprising that Sanders maintains and double-digits lead in the polls there,” [campaign manager] Robby Mook wrote in the memo obtained by ABC News, referring to the Vermont senator’s double-digit lead in the Granite State.

“After New Hampshire, the races becomes considerably more challenging for Bernie Sanders as the contest moves to Nevada and South Carolina, states with electorates that strongly favor Hillary,” he added.

Mook noted that Clinton won a majority of the women, union members and minority voters in Iowa, demographics “critical towards winning the Democratic nomination.” He pointed out that seven of the 11 March 1 Super Tuesday states have large minority populations, specifically citing Alabama, Georgia and Texas as states that “are expected to see majority-minority turnouts.”