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Posted by on Aug 15, 2013 in Politics | 2 comments

Republicans fear their 2016 nomination battle will help Hillary Clinton

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has not even declared that she’s running yet, and the new big political stories are about whether her speeches and her and daughter Chelsea Clinton’s moves to the Clinton Foundation are tipoffs that she’s in the race. Couple that with the likely expected reaction. Do we really need to even quote how Fox News talking heads are framing all this (whatever you’d assume they’d say or how they’d slant it, they’re saying it and slanting it that way)? But in Republicanland — which these days, if you listen to House Republicans who suggesting a government shutdown or debt default to undo Obamacare would not hurt the GOP, is akin to Fantasyland — there is growing concern that what’s now shaping up as a crowded-free-for-all for the 2016 Republican nomination could (you guessed it) help still-undeclared candidate Hillary Clinton:

GOP strategists are starting to worry that the sheer number of potential candidates for the party’s 2016 presidential nomination could give an advantage to Democrats.

More than two dozen Republicans are eyeing the GOP presidential nomination, while on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton looks like she could coast to the crown.

Only a handful of Democrats are even circling Clinton, while the potential GOP field just continues to grow.

“To beat Hillary Clinton in 2016 you need a strong candidate,” GOP strategist Ford O’Connell said of his party’s 2016 contenders. “A crowded field has the potential to give Hillary a bigger leg-up than she currently has.”

The contrast poses opportunities and threats for the GOP.

A winning candidate could emerge from a crowded primary stronger and battle tested, much as President Obama was strengthened from a 2008 primary fight with Clinton.

But a crowded primary could also weaken a GOP nominee by extending the fight and exhausting the eventual winner physically and financially.

Or, it could muddle things enough to allow a weaker nominee to emerge.

What’s clear right now is that Democrats and Republicans are looking at very different fields in 2016.

But there is a problem here for the Democrats.

Even though many expect Vice President Joe Biden and several other rising Democratic Party stars to enter the 2016 Democratic Presidential nomination sweepstakes, there seems to be a growing assumption that the nomination is HIllary Clinton’s if she wants it.

When did we hear that about Clinton before? Or about Republican President Rudy Giuliani, or Republican President John Connally, or about Republican President Fred Thompson, or about Democratic President Ted Kennedy, or about Democratic President Edmond Muskie?

What happens if a)Clinton decides not to run b)something occurs to convince her not to run c)something personal happens with her or her husband’s health that makes her decide not to run?

And will all the talk about the seeming inevitability or likelihood of a Hillary Clinton nomination discourage some other potential Democratic candidates who could be appealing enough to help the party achieve something not a “given”: keeping the White House after holding onto it for two terms. History suggests it’ll be a challenge.