Hillary and the race for '08
By Lisa Fabrizio
Less than four months after the 2004 elections some folks -- particularly those whose exodus to Canada is temporarily on hold -- are already slavering over the possible presidential run of she who is known by a single name.
New York's junior senator, Hillary sometimes Rodham Clinton, is thought by many to be the early favorite in America's quadrennial race for the White House. Some Beltway touts see Ms. Clinton matched up against fellow one-namers; either the fetching filly Condi, or Rudy, who was scratched in their last meeting.
It is typical of dreamy left-wing pundits that they would love to see their queen pitted against the socially liberal Giuliani or Secretary of State Rice whose domestic agenda is still an empty slate but is rumored to be both pro-choice and affirmative action.
The AP is already at work. The headline screamed: "Hillary Clinton gaining '08 support!" This despite quoting a Marist poll that showed 46 percent of registered voters in favor of her candidacy, while a whopping 49 percent prefer her rule be confined to the Empire State. According to the poll itself, and, not surprisingly, left out of the AP story is that Hillary would lose to both Rudy and Senator John McCain.
Senator Clinton is leading Dr. Rice in most early polls, including the Marist but this is hardly significant considering that; Condi is merely one month into her present job and still short on name recognition; she's never held public office so there's no campaign chest and she has indicated zero interest in running for anything. But that won't stop feminists and others from handicapping their fantasy race.
Too bad for them that it will be almost impossible for any of the above Republicans to win the '08 nomination. Despite their high-profile status at last year's convention where they demonstrated the party's big tent philosophy -- rousing Independents and defense-minded Democrats -- Zell Miller has a better chance of winning the GOP nod.
That a relatively unknown conservative, Governor George W. Bush, handily beat his more familiar and moderate rival McCain for the nomination in 2000 and increased his vote totals in nearly every state four years later, should be instructive. This country is red and getting redder every time rogue courts ply their mischief or anti-American leftists take to the airwaves. The '08 candidate must win over the growing number of 'values' voters made up of married women, minorities and young people.
There are some Democrats who think Hillary would be a polarizing force within the party and an energizing one for Republicans. It is this faction that shudders every time they hear the phrase, 'DNC Chairman Howard Dean' and the one Hillary seeks to appease for the time being.
While she plumbs the early middle ground by talking down her support for abortion and applauding most of the president's actions in the War on Terror, Hillary can't afford to push her base too far. But as a lame-duck, George Bush can lead both Senator Clinton and other '08 aspirants in his own party farther right than some can hope to follow. It would be a difficult balancing act, but one she is probably capable of.
Who then, would be her GOP challengers? Though it is still far too early to make a definitive choice, the smart money always looks to former governors first and so George Allen of Virginia and Bill Owens of Colorado make a lot of sense. Some would also include Massachusetts's Mitt Romney in this category, but as a Northeastern blue-stater, he might need to bring his 'personal' opposition to abortion over to his professional resume.
As for Ms. Clinton, let's look to 2006 and her upcoming re-election effort for clues. The reason most of her senate colleagues usually don't fare well is that their voting record often follows them around like a pesky younger brother. She will need to distance herself from some of her votes. The Clintons are many things, not the least of which is coldly assiduous when dealing with their political careers.
I look for a family crisis, perhaps of the marital nature, to prevent Hillary from further serving the people of New York. Polls have shown that she is never more popular than as a victim of her husband's excesses. She will need time to focus on her family and maybe later attend to more national matters. But if she defends her seat in '06, I think all presidential bets will be off.
Either way, the next four years will see many lead changes in the '08 stakes race but we can be sure of one thing: Pull out the goggles, it's going to be a muddy ride.
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