How ready is she? Hillary Clinton to announce presidential bid

Read few comments.

Questions:

1. How would you say potential Democrats rivals could/should challenge her bid? And what about Republicans rivals?

2. After the failure in 2008, how ready is Hillary Clinton right now?

Answers:

Justin Holmes, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Northern Iowa

1. For Democratic rivals, it is likely already too late.Hillary’s looming candidacy has mostly kept strong challengers out of the race to this point, and I don’t see any entering. Within the Democratic party, there could be a slight threat if a candidate to her left were to enter the race (such as Elizabeth Warren), which might cause Clinton some difficulties in SOME primaries, as she is more moderate than a fair chunk of likely Democratic primary voters, but Warren has repeatedly said she is not running, and is also not a very competitive candidate in the general election. For Republicans, there are going to be a couple lines of attack. One is to question her trustworthiness. There were a number of “scandals” investigated during Bill Clinton’s term, though the only one that went anywhere (the Affair with intern Monica Lewinsky) didn’t really go anywhere. But many of those will be dredged up again. This has been the current line of attack as well. Congress has been investigating the Benghazi attacks for 2 years now, mostly angling for a way to blame her for something. Similarly, the recent issue of her using a personal email server rather than government email during her time as Secretary of State has been another attempt to question her credibility.

2.I think Clinton is certainly ready now. Her second place finish in 2008 was an upset (she was viewed as the likely nominee), but she ran a strong campaign and didn’t end up losing by much. Several American presidents have not gotten the nomination the first time around, and been elected in a later run.

Matthew Eshbaugh-SohaAssistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of North Texas

This is a tough one.  All Democrats want a Democrat to win rather than a Republican.  Thus, any Democrat attacks on Clinton could be used against her in the general election campaign, which could undermine the chances that the Democrat wins the presidency.  At the same time, it is often best to air grievances, concerns, and other issues in the primaries, so that (1) voters and other potential nominees can see how the attacked responds; and (2) having those issues aired early on gives the candidate a chance to sweep those issues under the table, claiming that they have been addressed, vetted, and that they are no longer of any concern (save for voters who are unlikely to vote for the Democratic nominee, anyway).

Thus, I think that Democratic rivals will tread lightly, at least at the beginning, but look for an opening whether though positive media coverage or fundraising (at least this year).  If the numbers begin to move against Clinton, say during primary debates or in the early contests (as we say in 2008), then I think you may see more movement in rivals’ strategies to challenge Clinton.

One thing that works against Clinton is that, although she appears to be doing well in the polls, she has high negatives.  This surely provides an opportunity for Dem rivals, although they will have to dedicate much time and effort to be able to raise their profile.  I would not be surprised to see that if a Dem beats Clinton, it will be very much like an Obama strategy, one that relies on small donors, grass roots support, contesting every delegate.  I am just not sure if there is such a candidate in the potential field of candidates, however.

Republicans will criticize Clinton at her announcement, of course, and will want to make the case to Republican voters that they are the one who can beat Hillary Clinton.  Beyond that, I think they will focus on their own primary voters and their own Republican rivals.

2. I think that she is very ready.  I am sure she learned what she did wrong, and knows what she did right.  She probably has to think that lighting won’t strike twice in the form of a highly appealing candidates (e.g., Obama).  The case to look at may very well be Mitt Romney, who was able to transition from a loss in 2008 to the nomination in 2012.  We shall see if that is also a good predictor of Clinton’s fate, that is, she will lose.  (but this is getting well ahead of things.)

Steven GreeneAssociate Professor of Political Science, North Carolina State University

Honestly, I just don’t see anybody on the horizon remotely prepared to offer her a serious challenge. She has essentially locked up the support of virtually all key Democratic insiders and fundraisers, and that’s what really matters. If she somehow implodes, somebody will obviously have to emerge, but failing that unlikely scenario, it’s hard to see her having more than token opposition in the primary.

Now, the Republican opponent in the general election is a different story. The Republicans seem to have a high number of high-quality contenders. Whomever emerges from that is likely going to be a very skilled and very serious contender for the presidency. If we continue to see good economic growth, Hillary will be advantaged in 2016 as coming from the president’s party, but if growth slows at all, it will be hard, and there does seem to be a general bias against three straight terms from one party.

2. More ready than in 2008 :-). Hillary made some tactical errors in her campaign in 2008. She’s smart and will learn and will not allow these kinds of mistakes again. That said, Hillary is still Hillary and will never be able to inspire voters in the same way Obama did in 2008. Whatever you can do to prepare to win a presidential campaign, Hillary has probably done. The only question is the degree to which her personal failings as a candidate (she does not seem to be nearly as natural at it as her husband or Obama) hold her back.

Steffen SchmidtUniversity Professor of Political Science, Iowa State University

1. If other Democrats such as O’Malley, Warren, Biden, Webb or Schweitzer want to run in 2016 they need to prepare for that NOW. Bernie Sanders has been to Iowa with huge reception by Liberal Democrats and Independents. I think they need to be ready in case Clinton implodes so that there is a viable alternative. Right now she seems hard to knock off the mountain. But, like a spare tire, several of them need to identify some campaign staff, raise some funds, appear at some events, try to help the Iowa and New Hampshire Democratic Parties with fund raising.

The Republicans are ok they need to concentrate on finding a good candidate who can attract independent voters in November and who has a great sense of organization for a national campaign. THEN they need to have their themes for attacking Clinton ready if & when she begins her campaign but I think July & August when people slowly start to get interested in elections.

2. Hillary is learning from her mistake in Iowa of taking a caucus victory for granted. She needs to campaign in all 99 counties on an awesome bus tour. You know she won almost every big state in 2008 but she came out wounded from Iowa by Obama’s victory. I see no Obama in 2016.

If she repeats her success in big states after a victory in Iowa and New Hampshire she will glide to the nomination and can keep her ammunition dry – money and attacks on Republicans. It would be a monumental campaign with Clinton vs Bush or Rand Paul, or Ted Cruz. Especially Cruz would be a bloody and nasty campaign.

 

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