There’s death and taxes and now, evidently, Hillary as the 2008 nominee.
The first order of business are expectations and inevitability. Clinton’s camp is putting forth big numbers and making the case that she’s the one that can win. Never mind that it’s not even February of ’07. The job is to dust off her negatives and make people accept, well, the inevitable: Hillary Clinton as the Democratic ’08 choice.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s pollster fired an opening salvo at Sen. Barack Obama and John Edwards yesterday, claiming their campaigns are “stalled or falling” — and suggesting Obama isn’t tough enough to withstand GOP attacks in 2008.
A day after Clinton announced she would run for president — and win — her campaign’s chief strategist Mark Penn sent a memo to reporters intended to offset an avalanche of articles emphasizing Clinton’s high disapproval ratings and questioning her electability.
“She is not just strong, but the strongest Democrat in the field,” wrote Penn, referring to a new national poll showing Clinton with a commanding 20-plus-point lead over Obama and Edwards, the Democratic nominee as vice president in 2004. [...]
… .. But it was Penn who stated that no other Democrat is tough enough to beat back Sen. John McCain or former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. … – Clinton’s camp fires first salvo
There are a lot of people in the race already. I’ve also got to say that Senator Ted Kennedy made me look twice at the TV yesterday when he said on “Meet the Press”: “I’m going to support, support John.” It sounded like he was telegraphing that Kerry is going to run in ’08. Kennedy clarified it a moment later saying it was now a “personal” decision for Kerry. I know they’ve been agonizing over the decision for months. We shall know soon enough.
But Clinton does make one point that seems valid. Who is tough enough among the Democrats to withstand what ’08 will bring? I’ve been having conversations and email chats with people about Clinton. Her negatives worry people a lot. That’s not my problem, frankly.
The only thing besides policy, especially on Iraq, that worries me is who will be able to withstand the negative onslaught of the Republican nominee. Senator Barack Obama is a dynamic politician, no doubt. But I truly don’t get the sense for the jugular from him. Edwards has proved far tougher in the short run than I anticipated he’d be at this very early stage of the campaign. “The McCain Doctrine” was one example, but then going into Hillary’s home turf was another.
If anyone thinks toughness and the ability to fight dirty isn’t important in presidential politics you’re mistaken. Again, I’ve got no dog in this fight right now, but Clinton’s team does have a valid point. With Bill Clinton on her team, there are no two people in politics that know how to combat negative campaigns better. If Clinton is the nominee, which I’m not convinced at all will be the case, you can bet Hillary Clinton can withstand anything and give back just as good. That’s going to matter.
However, if she’s working on inevitability now her expectations are going to get even higher. She’s also going to be met with a chilly reception in some places if she thinks she can force feed her candidacy with primary voters. If she tilts into a campaign of arrogance and anointment people will get very tired of her very quickly. With her numbers at 3% regarding the people who want to know more about her, I’d say she’s got other serious challenges ahead.