An Old Phrase's New Turn
By Anne E. Kornblut
DOVER, N.H. -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton may be aiming for the "change" mantle, but on Monday morning, she took the time machine all the way back to the 1980s.
"What is, as famously was said years ago, where's the beef?" Clinton said, referring to former senator John Edwards, in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America." "You know, where is the reality? And I think that's a fair question."
A fair criticism of her challengers? Perhaps. But not exactly a hip nod to the YouTube generation that propelled Barack Obama to victory in the Iowa caucuses last week.
The phrase, initially made famous in a Wendy's commercial featuring two elderly women poking at a half-filled burger bun, has not been in wide rotation since 1984, when Walter Mondale used it to question the substantiveness of his rival, Gary Hart.
Clinton has been trying to raise doubts about Obama's and Edwards's depth for months. Her advisers hinted that a "where's-the-beef-like" strategy was in the works last week after her stinging loss in the Iowa caucuses. And she has pushed hard on the notion that Obama, her main rival nationally, is all "talk" and no "action" since retooling her message here over the weekend.
Clinton did not repeat the Mondale catchphrase during her numerous other morning show appearances, or at a rally here. She returned instead to a new frame, spoken in a near-whisper, listing her rivals' alleged accomplishments and then dismissing them as "not change." And judging from the reaction of her advisers when asked about the line, it did not appear likely that "where's the beef?" would appear on her campaign signs anytime soon.
Web Politics Editor
January 7, 2008; 1:55 PM ET
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