Republicans try to neutralize Clintons as GOP 2014 prospects rise

David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star

David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star

If you want to see how quickly agenda-influenced political rhetoric shifts, look no further than the comments coming from Republicans about Bill and Hillary Clinton. The race is now on to neutralize them by relitigating the Clinton years — from talking about the Monica Lewinsky scandal, to trying to raise feelings of “Clinton fatigue,” to other issues as well. The key theories on this:

It’s occurring because there is a feeling Hillary Clinton is “inevitable” as the 2016 Democratic Party nominee. The question is raging: are we on an inevitable path to Hillaryland?

It’s occurring because Bill Clinton had planned to get on the hustings and campaign for Democrats in key battleground states. So GOPers are trying to neutralize Clinton’s ability to get Democrats out to vote by pushing anti-Clinton buttons that may not appeal to most voters but will get the Republican base out to vote Clinton going to bat for Democrats running in their states.

The attacks on the Clintons underscore how politicians can totally shift their positions if it’s in their interest to do so. For much of Barack Obama’s terms many Republicans praised Hillary and Bill Clinton. NBC News’ First Read offers this reminder:

As we noted yesterday, the GOP and conservative media have increasingly turned their focus — and firepower — on Bill and Hillary Clinton. Benghazi. Monica. Even Kathleen Willey. But it’s also worth noting all the past praise Republicans showered on the Clintons as a way to knock President Obama and divide Democrats. Don’t be surprised if you Democrats resurrect some of these quotes come 2015-2016.

Obama is not your daddy’s Democrat. He’s not a mainstream Democrat like Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton worked with both sides of the aisle. Bill Clinton was able to get things done.

  • Here’s former Vice President Dick Cheney praising Hillary’s competency:”She might have been easier for some of us who are critics of the president to work with,” he told Fox News in 2011, adding, “I have the sense that she’s one of the more competent members of the current administration.”
  • Here’s RNC Chair Reince Priebus applauding Bill Clinton’s bipartisanship: “Obama is not your daddy’s Democrat,” Priebus said in Sept. 2012. “He’s not a mainstream Democrat like Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton worked with both sides of the aisle. Bill Clinton was able to get things done.”
  • Here’s John McCain commenting on Hillary’s foreign-policy record. “I think she did a fine job,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said in a 2013 New Republic interview about Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. “She’s a rock star. She has, maybe not glamour, but certainly the aura of someone widely regarded throughout the world.”
  • Here’s Scott Walker praising Bill Clinton’s business acumen: “President Clinton … he’s been hanging around with a number of people in the private sector, people who actually put people to work, whether they’re small business or big business or anywhere in between. That’s how our nation thrives,” Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker told CNN in 2012.
  • And here’s Paul Ryan on Bill Clinton’s deficit-reduction success: “Look, if we had a Clinton presidency, if we had Erskine Bowles chief of staff at the White House or president of the United States, I think we would have fixed this fiscal mess by now,” Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said on “Meet the Press” in Jan. 2013. “That`s not the kind of presidency we`re dealing with right now.”
  • The effort to neutralize the Clintons comes at a time when by all accounts Republicans are positioned for major victories in 2014 and could win the Senate. Talking Points Memo notes four reasons that give the GOP an advantage. Here are excerpts:

    1. The Six-Year Curse For Presidents

    Mid-term elections are usually bad for the president’s party, and that holds true for second-term presidents. Since the ratification of White House term limits, five out of the six two-term presidents have lost seats after re-election — an average of 29 in the House and six in the Senate, according to election analyst Charlie Cook….

    2. Democratic Voters Don’t Turn Out In Mid-Terms

    Non-presidential elections tend to be low turnout affairs dominated by older, white, male and conservative voters who prefer Republicans. Over the last three decades, voter turnout has averaged nearly 60 percent in presidential elections and roughly 40 percent in mid-term elections, according to data compiled political scientist Michael McDonald….

    3. Republicans Have A Mathematical Advantage In The Senate

    The million-dollar question is whether Republicans will pick up the six seats (on net) needed to take back the Senate majority.

    “Right now, I’d say control of the Senate is a coin-flip,” said Sides. “We’ll know more as the races evolve, but I’d say it’s more likely to tip in Republicans’ favor.”


    4. The House Map Is Skewed Toward The GOP

    The House is where the GOP’s advantage is strongest. Most analysts believe Democrats don’t have a serious chance of winning (on net) the 17 seats needed to take back the majority. In fact, some political scientists project that Republicans will gain seats and slightly expand their already sizable majority of 232 seats to 200 seats.

    Go to the link to read it in its entirety.

    On the other hand, Democrats know these facts as well as Republicans and bloggers. Are they prepared to zero in and try to change some of them (and could they)?

    As for the Clintons: been there/done that. They’ve weathered — and triumphed over — attacks for years. They’ve been around a while — and will likely be around a while more.

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    3 Comments

    1. It’s very early still, so it’s funny to see the GOP to scared of Mrs Clinton. It’s true I’m not seeing another Democrat with the national status to run in 2016 either, but that doesn’t mean one won’t come in 2015.

    2. First of all, I keep seeing that there are “predictions” that the GOP will win the house and the Senate. Not if any Americans have been following the news at all! My guess is, the Reps have done a bang up job with redistricting and of course THAT might be why they win, but on credit(?) to the capabilities?……no.

      I can hardly believe they would vote in a party that wants to keep extended unemployment benefits from happening, wants no “feriners” to become citizens, thinks distorted Christian doctrine is the new constitution, wants all social programs to go away, wants the poor who can’t afford health insurance to just die ( are there no prisons? are there no workhouses?), wants women to shut their mouths and just do what they are told, etc., etc. The list of absurdities is longer than my Saturday morning permits in time.

      If they win both, then it doesn’t matter what Democrat we choose to win the presidency.

    3. “First of all, I keep seeing that there are “predictions” that the GOP will win the house and the Senate.”

      I started to reply with the reasons why Republicans should do better based upon the fundamentals, as well as some factors which can lead to changing this. The response turned out so long that I think I will turn it into a separate post. It is a rehash of a lot of things I’ve already written about at Liberal Values but I don’t know how much has been discussed by others here.

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