COMMENT: THE BIG PITCH - How can former President Clinton improve his tarnished public image?




Former press secretary to Presidents Reagan and Bush

Washington, DC

He's got to undo the damage his reputation has taken over the past few weeks. I'd move to cheaper quarters in New York, first of all. (Ed: it looks like he's already taking this advice.) He should cut down on what he's spending for them to about dollars 200,000. He should also release a list of donors to his presidential library, and he needs to give a fuller explanation of his pardons, which have been a particular source of criticism. I don't think he's capable of change though. What you're asking him to do is somehow develop some sense of shame, which he has never demonstrated in the past. I think the only thing that will work for him is to stay out of sight and I know he can't do that either. I guarantee he will be in more trouble as time goes by. I think he knows that and his attitude is 'who cares?'



Pingel Blanchard Schaefer Public Relations

Arlington, TX

Moving forward, the former president should mimic just about everything Jimmy Carter has ever done, post presidency. He should distance himself from Hollywood, roll up his sleeves and get out and be an ambassador to the common man. Clinton has Teflon skin when it comes to his liberal/democratic base. That's a given. To create a better image for history and posterity, he must concentrate on his poor image with the Republicans. Community service - like hammering nails with Jimmy and Habitat for Humanity - is something of which everyone approves Obviously, Clinton will need to avoid scandals, which may be a full-time job for him. His most challenging task will be to appear supportive of Senator Hillary Clinton, while not taking a back seat to her in the public eye. That potential power struggle may show what the former first couple's marriage is really made of.


Director, Public Relations

Triad, Larkspur, CA

Although Former President Clinton is highly favored by the public and the media, he is also recognized as someone who may have acted dishonestly and unethically with the American public. Moving forward, he needs to position himself as the supportive husband, international statesman, and expert political strategist. He must emphasize his success in dealing with international policy and the economy. He would do well to portray himself as an elder statesman - someone who can speak and is most knowledgeable in the arena of political survival skills and world diplomatic relations.

An emphasis on his 'comeback kid' persona may play well. Everyone loves a survival story and Clinton's is a remarkable one. I would reorient the public to his indomitable nature in the face of adversity and the substantial results from his eight-year tenure. Those are the keys to the kingdom.


VP, corporate communications & government relations

Nashville Public Television - WDCN,

Nashville, TN

Former President Clinton probably knows that to earn recognition for his presidential contributions, while restoring any reputation he might have lost, he would do well to put personal spiritual recovery before all else, and to serve others as they ask to be served. Bill Clinton has a very rare opportunity to become known as one of America's most plain-spoken and insightful observers, and one of the nation's most humble servants.

If in the course of these efforts, Clinton becomes perceived as having gained greater humility and wisdom, then he might one day deserve to be known as the de Tocqueville of America's soul during these trying days of the early 21st century. What does all this suggest for the public relations person Clinton might hire? Support Clinton as pilgrim, not as pundit.

Support him as servant, not as seer. Support him as patriot or prodigal, but not as pariah.

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