Hillary can win 

Even before this year’s elections were decided, speculation about the 2008 presidential sweepstakes was well underway.

Forget about the impending Democratic takeover of both houses of Congress. The Oct. 23 edition of Time magazine ran a cover story titled “Why Barack Obama could be the next president.”

So it’s not surprising that Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa and Republican U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter of California officially announced their presidential ambitions only hours after Election Day. Former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani, another Republican, joined the fray a few days later.

More will likely follow in the coming months, because there is no shortage of other potential candidates in both parties. But the pivotal question is: Will Hillary Clinton run?

Everyone close to her that I’ve talked with — friends, staff and Democratic donors — thinks she is going to do it. And all of her actions point in that direction.

The New York Times recently reported that she has no plans to dismantle the campaign organization that just got her re-elected to the U.S. Senate. She has $10 million left over in her accounts, and she has favors to cash in around the country.

“Even as she campaigned for her own re-election, Hillary headlined 131 events in 57 different cities on behalf of other Democrats,” said Patti Solis Doyle, Clinton’s campaign director.

But as it becomes increasingly apparent that she will run for president, the next question is: Can Hillary Clinton win?

Everywhere I go, people usually say no, and always for the same reason: she is too “polarizing.” Even those who want her to win think she can’t overcome all of the people who don’t like her.

I happen to think that is one of her greatest advantages going into the campaign.

After all, politics is often a game of expectations. In Clinton’s case, she would enter a general election race with very low expectations, because she is thought to be a divisive, radical liberal.

But when she ran for the Senate in 2000, Clinton eroded that caricature through her moderate, centrist campaign. Once in office, she co-sponsored bills with conservative Republicans like Sens. Bill Frist and Lindsey Graham, voted to authorize the war in Iraq and generally earned a reputation as an effective, hard-working lawmaker.

If she continues to project this kind of steady and competent leadership during a presidential campaign, those expecting a shrill extremist will probably end up saying, “You know, she’s not as bad as I thought.”

The expectations game may help Clinton from the other direction, too, because she won’t be running in a vacuum. All of the adulation heaped upon Sen. John McCain, the presumed Republican frontrunner, will magnify every mistake and misstatement he is certain to make. McCain can be a bit testy when challenged, and he has never had to endure the onslaught of a full national campaign. Clinton, on the other hand, has been put through the ringer numerous times, personally and professionally. There is nothing they can throw at her that we haven’t already heard.

According to Chris Cilizza of the Washington Post, the other top GOP contenders are Giuliani and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (like Clinton, both are moderate Northeasterners), and Gov. Mike Huckabee and former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich (neither of whom have the foreign policy experience of a current senator and former first lady). And regardless of who wins the party’s nomination, will the country be willing to elect another Republican to the White House after the failures of the last six years?

Then there is the straightforward electoral math. To win, Clinton merely needs to take all of the states that voted for Al Gore in 2000, plus Florida (which Gore arguably won in the first place), or all of the states that voted for John Kerry in 2004, plus Ohio (which this year elected a Democratic governor and U.S. senator).

What about gender? Clinton’s argument that Americans are ready for a woman president will be serendipitously helped by Nancy Pelosi’s turn as the first female speaker of the House (third in line to the presidency). Also, more than 40 women have served as heads of state around the world since 1953, in nations like India, Israel, Germany and the U.K.

Of course, no one credibly challenges Clinton’s qualifications or ability to govern. She is as smart, knowledgeable and experienced as they come.

Her detractors are therefore reduced to disparaging her “electability” based on unproven and unquantifiable factors. With that in mind, Clinton’s biggest challenge is not the general election, but rather the primaries. She has to overcome the misplaced fears and convince Democrats that she can win.

Ironically, however, she can’t project too much brash confidence. She needs to be underestimated so she can prove everyone wrong, just as she did when she won her Senate race in 2000.


Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

More by Warwick Sabin

  • Helena's disappearing buildings

    Preservationists hope to slow demolitions.
    • Mar 22, 2007
  • Trailers headed to Dumas

    Gov. Mike Beebe issued the following statement earlier today: Although this decision by FEMA to deny emergency funds to Desha County defies common sense, Arkansas will take care of its own people.
    • Mar 9, 2007
  • Youth Ranch robbed, vandalized

    According to a press release we just received: The Donald W. Reynolds Campus of the Arkansas Sheriff’s Youth Ranches (The Ranch) located near Fort Smith was vandalized overnight Thursday.  Items stolen during the break-in included all of the children’s saddles, food, tools and supplies from The Ranch’s carpentry shop and all equipment from its auto shop.  An investigation is underway with the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office.
    • Mar 9, 2007
  • More »

Most Shared

  • World leaders set to meet in Little Rock on resource access and sustainable development

    Next week a series of meetings on the use of technology to tackle global problems will be held in Little Rock by Club de Madrid — a coalition of more than 100 former democratic former presidents and prime ministers from around the world — and the P80 Group, a coalition of large public pension and sovereign wealth funds founded by Prince Charles to combat climate change. The conference will discuss deploying existing technologies to increase access to food, water, energy, clean environment, and medical care.
  • Tomb to table: a Christmas feast offered by the residents of Mount Holly and other folk

    Plus, recipes from the Times staff.
  • Rapert compares Bill Clinton to Orval Faubus

    Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway)  was on "Capitol View" on KARK, Channel 4, this morning, and among other things that will likely inspire you to yell at your computer screen, he said he expects someone in the legislature to file a bill to do ... something about changing the name of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.
  • Fake news

    So fed up was young Edgar Welch of Salisbury, N.C., that Hillary Clinton was getting away with running a child-sex ring that he grabbed a couple of guns last Sunday, drove 360 miles to the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C., where Clinton was supposed to be holding the kids as sex slaves, and fired his AR-15 into the floor to clear the joint of pizza cravers and conduct his own investigation of the pedophilia syndicate of the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state.
  • Reality TV prez

    There is almost nothing real about "reality TV." All but the dullest viewers understand that the dramatic twists and turns on shows like "The Bachelor" or "Celebrity Apprentice" are scripted in advance. More or less like professional wrestling, Donald Trump's previous claim to fame.

Latest in Warwick Sabin

  • Trickle-up theory

    Through thick and thin, there has always been one group of dedicated Americans whose support for President George W. Bush has been unwavering: The wealthy.
    • Mar 8, 2007
  • Time to go

    Tough questions face us in Iraq and it's time to confront them directly.
    • Mar 1, 2007
  • Plugged in

    One reason why the South remained solidly Democratic during the mid-20th century was the enduring gratitude to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who brought electricity to the poor, rural parts of the region. According to one historical account, “Althou
    • Feb 22, 2007
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans

Event Calendar

« »


  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Viewed

  • Stay the course

    I am frustrated and angry with those who claim the only chance of future success is for the Democratic Party, especially in the South and Midwest, to abandon speaking directly to women and people of color and the LGBT community and instead focus on the economy and other "more comfortable" topics in order to win back some of the center.
  • Reality TV prez

    There is almost nothing real about "reality TV." All but the dullest viewers understand that the dramatic twists and turns on shows like "The Bachelor" or "Celebrity Apprentice" are scripted in advance. More or less like professional wrestling, Donald Trump's previous claim to fame.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Stay the course

    • Thank you Autumn. I agree that we can not compromise an inch on the value…

    • on December 9, 2016
  • Re: Reality TV prez

    • Oh, calm down, Mr. L. and Mr. G. Stop having hissy fits. Instead of behaving…

    • on December 8, 2016
  • Re: Arkansas Democrats' rocky road forward

    • As we saw with the raise in the minimum wage and medical marijuana, there are…

    • on December 8, 2016

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation