5 challenges ahead for Hillary

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Hillary Clinton has had a primary season full of highs and lows. But as she pivots toward the general election, some of her allies say she needs to buckle down on several issues that have haunted her during the battle with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

Here are five challenges that Clinton allies say she must overcome.

1.) Small-dollar donations

The Sanders campaign has trounced Team Clinton when it comes to small dollar donations. (The average donation, as Sanders himself has made a rallying cry: “27 dollars!”)

Comparing apples to apples, Sanders collected more than $67 million from small donors through January 31, about 70 percent of the money he raised, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Clinton, on the other hand, pulled in more than $21 million in small dollar donations, equaling about 17 percent of all contributions.

“The Sanders campaign has done a good job of luring those donations,” one former Clinton aide acknowledged. “The Clinton campaign needs to unlock these small dollar donations somehow. It’s a key step in building a solid general election operation. But at the same time, she also needs to get her bigger donors to re-up for the general election.”

2.) Lingering issues

Several issues have dogged Clinton throughout the campaign, including her use of a private email account at the State Department and her paid speeches, particularly to Goldman Sachs.

But allies say she needs to have a better response to those issues when they bubble up. On Thursday night, for example, Clinton for the most part dodged questions about her speech to Goldman Sachs executives, and Clinton aides haven't given clear answers on the matter, either.

Allies say the non-answers are likely inflicting more damage than whatever she actually said in the speech to the Wall Street bank. “In some form or fashion, they’ve gotta do a better job dealing with it,” said Democratic strategist Jim Manley.

3) ‘Joe Biden moments’

Allies say that Clinton has been around for so long, it’s hard to show the public a new side of her. “It’s perceived as trying too hard or fake and not the real Hillary,” one longtime ally said.

The candidate has been on a charm offensive since the fall, appearing repeatedly on late-night and daytime talk shows. But supporters say Clinton needs to use the appearances to engage in what one former aide referred to as “Joe Biden moments.”

On Friday, one ally spoke approvingly of Clinton’s decision to play a game of dominoes at a senior center in East Harlem. The Clinton campaign received some criticism last week for putting the Democratic frontrunner on the subway, hours after Sanders said commuters used tokens to ride it. But one ally said she needs more light-hearted moments like that.

“Go to a bar, have her drink a beer,” the ally said.

4.) The Trump factor

The general election hasn’t started, yet the mudslinging from both sides has begun. Clinton and Bill Clinton can both get flustered when attacks get personal, and that’s a worry to some of their supporters.

Democratic consultant Tracy Sefl, who served as a senior adviser to Ready for Hillary, said Trump’s “shamelessness” is a concern.

“He’s someone who has shown a willingness and a gleefulness for saying crazy things,” Sefl said. “I worry about what’s going to come out of his mouth.”

“He’s the wild card. He has been this whole time and will continue to be.”

Manley agreed, saying, “the depths of the charges are going to be off the charts.”

“She’s gonna get defensive, her husband is going to get defensive and that’s how you make mistakes,” Manley said. “She needs to be disciplined and not take the bait.”

Sefl said the key is to keep Clinton “presidential and measured” and rely on the campaign operation to “knock back everything that comes out of his mouth.”

5.) Complacency

Nothing irked Clinton allies and donors more when they saw Clinton’s lead against Sanders narrow last year. And when she narrowly won Iowa, they felt as though the campaign operation wasn’t hitting Sanders effectively.

While most allies don’t expect the same kind of complacency going forward, they worry that Team Clinton will assume that Trump will self-combust and run accordingly.

“They have to run a campaign that acts like they’re 10 points down in the polls every single day,” the former aide said. “While Trump is ridiculous, he is attracting a lot of voters. Look at where Jeb Bush is today, and Marco Rubio, and most of the people who went up against him.”