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I'm Freddy Gray, Says Hillary. And You're Rich, Says Bernie

04/30/2015 05:42 pm ET | Updated Jun 30, 2015

Listen here to Alan Kelly's analysis on SiriusXM's Morning Briefing, POTUS channel, 124.

While more political horses trot to the track, Hillary Clinton finally caught fire this week, taking to a Columbia University lectern to put her spin on the Baltimore unrest.  For a candidate who, to date, has had little more to say than, Let's go to Chipotle, Clinton found her voice as she stamped prison reform onto her platform and reminded us that it takes a village.  Her populist, equalist passion found a home in the death of Baltimore youth Freddie Gray and the aftermath of looting and fires in his community.

What were Clinton's plays?  From The Standard Table of Influence, there are two worth noting.  The Crowd: Clinton was adapting her policy and positions to Baltimore, pressing her campaign into the scene to get a piece of the drama and commentary. One wonders, however, if she might also be running a craftier play, a sibling of the Crowd, the Draft.  If so, she's using Baltimore not only to get some air time but to study the unrest and, later, lead with solutions.  Her talk of mass incarceration, a tidy Label, by the way, is one example.

Today, however, is a new day in the 2016 sweepstakes, as the U.S. senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders (I-VT), enters the race. How might Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, reflect on Hillary's Baltimore-soaked bravado? He'll strip away Clinton's mannerly, motherly concerns, and re-eulogize the Freddy Grays and Fergusons as casualties of the greed culture he's so keen to undress.  Sanders' play will be a Recast of our understanding of racial tensions and, by implication, it will be a Call Out on Clinton's long-held ties to Wall Street... and her new-found wealth, too.

One wonders how Hillary will handle the angry Vermonter. (Who knew such a thing exists.) Deflects will be her go-to, but a year with Bernie will be no weekend for Clinton. Ultimately, she'll have to engage her seething, populist rival.