Service of Handlers Mishandling with Potentially Devastating Results

September 8th, 2016

Categories: Expectations, Speaking, Special Events

I heard about Hillary Clinton’s four minute coughing jag when she was addressing a rally in Cleveland recently. Tyler Durden wrote on “She coughed and cleared her throat through over 4 minutes of almost incoherent babble before MSNBC cut away, joking that hillary had quipped ‘every time I think about Trump I get allergic.'”

I’ve run countless events and I write speeches for clients so that while her political opponents were predicting her demise, her health was the last thing on my mind. [If her voice didn’t give out after the grueling year she’s had; the number of speeches she’s given and the way she projects her voice at loudest pitch, I’d wonder.]

So what did I think of? “Where was Huma?” [Hillary’s campaign’s vice chairman, photo left.] “How could her handlers or hosts not jump into action after 45 seconds of sputtering, certainly well before 240 seconds?”

If there was no plan for this possibility [bad move No. 1 for the event planners], an official campaign associate known to the secret service should have warned an agent that they were about to hop on stage to rescue Hillary. Then the person would make light of the cough while either asking the musicians to strike up the band or the host to come back to the mic to regale the crowd so as to give Hillary a chance to recover, sip hot tea with lemon, until the jag passed.

I’ve had that kind of tickle and cough so deep in my chest that no number of Halls drops reaches or calms it. It happened once during a client meeting. He looked uncomfortable. Eventually it passed.

Where were Hillary’s troops? Why didn’t someone come to her rescue? Four minutes? Now come on! The Devil is in the details and because this one wasn’t handled correctly, the candidate’s opponents have something else to harp on. Can you think of other instances where a seemingly benign oversight with countless simple solutions can give an adversary the upper hand?



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8 Responses to “Service of Handlers Mishandling with Potentially Devastating Results”

  1. Hank Goldman Said:

    I thought that Hillary handled it pretty well herself. She said every time she talks about Trump, she coughs, personally I throw up.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    She handled it best she could and was quick on the draw. She should not have been left out to dry by her staff for four minutes is the point I tried to make. An event planner’s job isn’t done until the lights go out on the venue and the last person exits. My quibble is with her handlers.

  3. David Reich Said:

    Not sure what a “handler” could have done, except maybe bring her some water. But she probably had water with her at the podium.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    She had water. What she needed was a break away from the mic and a seamless and well planned distraction for the audience until the horrible tickle went away. It’s not up to us to come up with the perfect plan and clever wording that Hillary’s crew is well paid to develop. Four minutes is a long time to sputter.

  5. hb Said:

    I have a different concern.

    Whether of not her staff helped her out or not is “small potatoes” to a far bigger issue. Is this nightmarishly grueling eighteen months of campaigning a sane way to pick a president, and expect him or her to function well at full throttle for four years in office?

    In my opinion, the whole political structure here has broken down. Our size, demographics and technological dependency is now also radically different than it was then. The balance of powers concept is fine, but we need a fresh look at whether we should not have a better, more responsive, more efficient way to conduct the nation’s business.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Excellent point. The amount of money spent on the primaries and elections alone could feed the world’s hungry for a few months at least is my guess. The race becomes one of endurance and who can collect enough money and unrelated to who the best candidate might be which is why we have the current choices that leave quantities of potential voters cold.

    Gridlock in Congress is not the way to conduct a thing and the mean-spirited, confrontational attitude of most members holds little promise for the country’s welfare.

  7. Lucrezia Said:

    There’s no such thing as handling a determined cough. HRC might be able to diminish such episodes by investing in a speech specialist, one who excels in toning down screeching. That shrill voice of hers not only tortures the throat, which produces coughs in protest, but turns off prospective voters.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Good suggestion. When Al Gore ran for president he droned on putting everyone to sleep and countless people suggested he do the same. He didn’t but once he lost the election suddenly he became a compelling speaker. Maybe he had followed the advice but it took a while to kick in.

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