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Sunday, December 4, 2016

In my wildest dreams, I would never suggest campaign strategy to Hillary Clinton, but in my wakeful hours, my temples pulse with ideas.

For a while, I’ve thought it best to keep my thoughts to myself, but that was before I started seeing all kinds of advice coming from people who never wait to be asked. Not surprisingly, most of them are men, and — get this — they’re complaining that Hillary has too many men working for her. I love that.

This strategy in male pundit-land makes sense when you think about it. If Hillary Clinton is indeed the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, a lot of guys are going to vie for honorary girlfriend status this time around to make up for all the sexism and misogyny masquerading as wise white men talking in 2008. Even the fellas at Fox News have surely figured out that if there’s one thing women have learned in the past eight years, it’s the thrill of rapid response.

How I wish only the men at Fox News had been a problem back then, but never mind. If I start naming names, I’m going to forget my vows to forgive, and that’s no way to begin the Lenten season.

There’s no point in talking about Hillary-anything without addressing the issue that, based on my social media feeds, is best cast as “Hillary? A-gin?”

I confess to finding this attitude a bit confounding because we’ve yet to elect a female president. No matter what else America’s No. 1 overachiever has done, she still hasn’t led the country from the White House. Save your sarcasm about her ’90s co-presidency for those who think a timid wife is a marital asset. My family hasn’t seen one of those women in at least 100 years, to state the obvious.

As for stories about who’s working for Hillary, it’s important to remember who cares about staffing. People who hope to be staff care, definitely. Donors care, sometimes. Activists care, too, especially those on the left, because most liberals are eternal optimists looking for reasons to be disappointed.

Most Americans couldn’t care less who’s doing a presidential candidate’s polling or picking soundtracks for campaign ads. They care about the issues that directly affect their lives. Let’s try that coverage for a change.

A CNN/ORC poll released Wednesday showed that when asked whether seven possible presidential candidates better represent the future or the past, 50 percent of Americans picked Clinton as evoking the future. That was more than any other candidate.

By fascinating contrast, 64 percent of Americans said Bush Wannabe No. 3 — let’s call him Jeb — represents the past.

The gender breakdown on Clinton was interesting. Fifty-three percent of men said she’s a throwback, but 55 percent of women saw her as representing the future. I love that statistic because it illustrates what women already know: We’re not a monolithic group.

Oh, my, this campaign is going to drive some men into hibernation for the duration — which, by the way, would be a swell name for a country music cover band. I further suggest that the opening number be that Merle Haggard song about when women could cook and still would. I love belting that out at the top of my lungs when I make my chicken piccata.

So, you may remember I started this column with the suggestion that I have an idea or two for Hillary Clinton’s campaign. I understand saying that out loud likely provokes a blown-tire sigh from whoever is currently in charge of the next big idea. I can hear him from here: “The last thing we need is unsolicited advice from some outsider…”

Please, by all means, finish that sentence: “…from the great battleground state of Ohio.” That’s can’t-win-without-Ohio, to you.

In 2008, Clinton won the Ohio presidential primary. It pains me to say this, but I don’t think it was because all those white working-class guys suddenly decided they were feminists. They need to see her early and often. That goes double for all those women who haven’t yet wrapped their minds around the possibility of a female president in their lifetime.

Come to the Buckeye State, Hillary. Go to Kansas and Michigan, too, and to other places full of regular Americans who need to know they’re on your mind.

Hold town halls, and take questions that aren’t screened. Meet with editors at small and regional news organizations now, before your every quote is a response to someone else’s attack.

I hear the mumbling: She’s got a lot of nerve.

Let’s hope so.

Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and an essayist for Parade magazine. She is the author of two books, including “…and His Lovely Wife,” which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate. To find out more about Connie Schultz ([email protected]) and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

Photo: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the 2014 Harkin Steak Fry in Indianola, IA. (Gregory Hauenstein/Flickr)