Q&A Friday #15: Hillary In 2008 — How Tough Will She Be?

Question: “As a side note, do you think that the republicans are not taking Hillary seriously enough?” — liberty

“Why do you think Republicans fear Hillary Clinton so much, given her long list of baggage and drawbacks?” — Christopher_Taylor

Answer: Like any other candidate, Hillary Clinton has strengths and weaknesses. In her favor, she seems to be fairly well liked by the press and the Democratic base, has proven she can fund raise, and seems — at least, in my opinion — to be much smarter politically than John Kerry. Personally, I think she will be a tougher opponent than John Kerry.

The flip side of this argument is Clinton has some enormous weaknesses as well. She’s a liberal, from a liberal state, with a liberal voting record. Furthermore, she has more baggage than anybody short of Ted Kennedy or Robert Byrd which is why in the last poll I saw on the topic in December of 2004, she already has a staggeringly high 42% negative rating. Just imagine that as a starting point and then add on a year of negative ads and lots of time spent reminding people about “Hillarycare,” Whitewater, The Rose Law Firm Billing Records, her crooked looking cattle futures deal, on and on and on as far as the eye can see. It’s not a pretty picture.

On top of all that, is Hillary really the candidate who’s going to capture Southern states for the Dems for the first time since 1996? The Clinton name is practically an epitaph in the South right now (Erskine Bowles was hammered with negative ads playing up his connection with Bill Clinton in the North Carolina Senate race, for example) and how does Hillary spin abandoning Arkansas for New York? Her husband might have been able to pull it off at one time because he’s slick and he “speaks Southern,” but I haven’t seen much evidence that Hillary can do the same thing.

So, while I take Hillary seriously and believe she’s capable of winning, I think she’s overrated as a candidate and, personally, I would be much more worried about Dems like Bill Richardson (NM), Phil Bredesen (TN), and Mark Warner (VA) who’d be capable of carrying 3-4 Southern States. Fortunately, I don’t think any of them appeals enough to the liberal base to gain any traction in the 2008 Democratic Primaries.

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