Secretary Clinton seems to have a bit of her husband’s skill when it comes to breaking things down. On Monday, during a media availability in Keane, New Hampshire, the Democratic candidate called Republicans out for avoiding the issues by demonizing her.
After a weekend of nothing but Hillary bashing during the Republican “leadership” summit, during which 19 alleged Republican hopefuls vied for attention by attacking Clinton, Ms. Clinton noted, “… the Republicans seem to be talking only about me. I don’t know what they would talk about if I wasn’t in the race.”
Eric Bradner, a CNN reporter, tweeted:
Hillary Clinton's response in a very brief media avail in Keene, NH, to the latest Clinton Foundation cash criticism: pic.twitter.com/p2iHBSEN1M
— Eric Bradner (@ericbradner) April 20, 2015
“We are back into the political season and there are all kinds of distractions and attacks. And I am ready for that. I know that comes, unfortunately, with the territory. It is, I think, worth noting* that the Republicans seem to be talking only about me. I don’t know what they would talk about if I wasn’t in the race. But I am in the race and hopefully we will get onto the issues and I look forward to that.”
Clinton is right, of course. Republicans are in an awkward position, given the disparity between their base and their very wealthy controllers (a problematic and unanticipated outcome of the 2010 Citizens United decision for their party). Republicans can’t afford to discuss issues on the national stage, when reporters are paying attention and the fact-checkers are alert.
This explains why Republicans are left to sift through their desperate attempts to create scandal where there was none, resurrecting the long-debunked even by their own party Benghazi “scandal” in an attempt to mitigate Hillary Clinton’s vast foreign policy expertise. Expertise which dwarfs all of the Republican hopeful’s foreign policy experience and, most likely, knowledge. That’s sort of one of those things you have to do do grasp, though that is not to say that a newcomer with an open and hungry mind couldn’t be good at it. Many of the Republicans are trying to package themselves as an anti-Bush foreign policy type in name only, but that is a difficult sell given their actual positions.
Senator Rand Paul has taken to begging the public to find dirt on Hillary Clinton, as if all of the Republican operatives who tried to destroy President Clinton, First Lady Hillary Clinton, Senator Hillary Clinton and Secretary Hillary Clinton might have missed something. Paul doesn’t need it to be real– he just needs something he can turn into a sound bite attack, in order to avoid discussing issues. This is why he is hawking a conspiracy theory about the Clinton Foundation in a book he says he hasn’t read or vetted. That kind of judgment just screams “ready for the Oval.”
But sadly, all of the Republicans find themselves in this position of needing to focus the media and public’s attention on conspiracies and whispers in order to avoid discussing issues — issues like the minimum wage, equal pay, healthcare for everyone, and generally taking from the working poor to feed the top 1%. That is, to avoid discussing the Republican platform.
Hillary Clinton just poked a huge hole in the Republican efforts to demonize her, by calling it out early and calmly. She is making her campaign thus far about talking to actual voters instead of a made for TV production. We don’t hear a lot of campaign rhetoric from her (yet?). Just a laser focus on the issues she has long stood for.
While Republicans got away with demonizing President Obama for the past six years, the public has known the Clinton family for a very long time. It will be much harder to sell crazy conspiracies to the general public, though of course the hardcore Republican voters will believe. They already do believe some pretty nutty things about the Clintons. But there’s the sought after middle, and they do not believe those things. They grew up with the Clintons. And Ms. Clinton keeps on polling well, polling in double digits against the GOP field — though we are early in the game.
Hillary Clinton is defining and framing the “game”. She will be discussing issues with the voters. If the media wants to cover it, they will be forced to cover these issues because of the way Clinton is running her campaign. And in response, Republicans will accuse her of being guilty of any number of scandals with scant, if any, evidence. This says more about Republicans than it does their target. It’s like a child asked about doing something wrong who points at their little brother and cries, “But he did X!”
This is hardly Clinton’s first rodeo with right wing attacks. The problem with this being the only game for the GOP is it’s an old game and they are running against one of their first victims, only it’s years later and she is on to them.
* Other reporters wrote that she said “worth noting” so I corrected this in the transcript of Bradner’s tweet, though he could be correct that she said “nothing”.