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Michael Nutter supports Hillary Clinton

But he says she'll face an authenticity challenge

Editor’s Note: The Axe Files, featuring David Axelrod, is a podcast distributed by CNN and produced at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. The author works at the institute.

Chicago CNN —  

Hillary Clinton will face an authenticity challenge in her looming general election battle with Donald Trump, according to former Philadelphia mayor – and current Clinton supporter – Michael Nutter.

“Hillary Clinton has been on the public scene for a long period of time… [and] fairly well beaten up by various media and certainly the Republicans in general. They’ve kind of specialized in that. So I think the natural instinct is to almost go within yourself, lessen the surface area for attack, and be very guarded,” Nutter told David Axelrod on “The Axe Files,” a podcast produced by CNN and the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. “That is a challenge for any elected official, but certainly one for higher office. I would say, at a minimum at the mayoral level and up, people want to know you.”

“[She has] a little bit of that, ‘What time is it?’ And you get the history of watchmaking in America, so I think that’s a part of it,” he added. “She’s not a soundbite machine in that way.”

However, if Clinton opens up too much in an effort to combat Trump’s shoot-from-the-hip style, that could alienate voters by appearing inauthentic, Nutter cautioned.

“If you try to change up too much, then you have a different form of an authenticity problem. Because what are you doing? We see that you’re trying. You can’t be someone that you’re not,” he said. “Could she lighten up a little bit? Yes. I think it would be a mistake to go down the same path that all the other 16 or so Republicans went down, which is to try to engage him where he fights. My father used to take me to the fights all the time. Boxing matches. And one of the things you learn is never fight the other fighter’s fight.”

Mayor of Philadelphia Michael Nutter in 2015
Mark Makela/Getty Images
Mayor of Philadelphia Michael Nutter in 2015

Ultimately, Nutter predicted, voters will face a choice this fall between two starkly different candidates, but in his opinion, the decision is an easy one.

“At the end of the day, I mean, she is like a real adult person who has a certain level of dignity and respect and is running for the presidency of the United States of America. And that’s an area where she’ll stay. He’s still, I think, with the talk show, reality show kind of mindset,” Nutter said. “I want the person who understands the gravity and the intensity of this job… I don’t know what he knows about running anything other than his own private business. Well, the United States of America is not your private business.”

To hear the whole interview with Nutter, which also touched on how to improve community policing, what it’s like overseeing one of the country’s largest cities, and more, click on To get “The Axe Files” podcast every week, subscribe at