"Hillary Clinton really is one of the weakest . . . nominees with whom the Democrats could be saddled."
"Democrats are worried sick about her chances."
"Just give someone else a chance, so we in the Democratic Party can elect a Democrat."
"She cannot possibly, possibly win."
Yada, yada, yada.
We've heard all this "Hillary can't win stuff" before. In fact, the quotes above aren't from recent weeks but from six years ago, when many pundits -- and Democrats -- said there was no way that Hillary could get elected to the Senate. She won by 12 percentage points.
We don't know if Hillary is going to run for president, but as advisers who have worked on the only two successful Democratic presidential campaigns in the past couple of decades, we know that if she does run, she can win that race, too.
Why? First, because strength matters. Our problems as a party are less ideological than anatomical: Our candidates have been made to look like they have no backbone. But the latest Post-ABC News poll shows that 68 percent of Americans describe Hillary Clinton as a strong leader. That comes after years of her being in the national crossfire. People know that Hillary has strong convictions, even if they don't always agree with her. They also know that she's tough enough to handle the viciousness of a national campaign and the challenges of the presidency itself.
One thing we know about Clinton campaigns: Nobody gets Swift Boated.
The woman who gave the War Room its name knows how tough politics at the presidential level can be. Adversaries spent $60 million against her in 2000, and she endured press scrutiny that would have wilted most candidates. She gave as good as she got, and she triumphed.
For those who think that the politics of personal destruction might be rekindled against Hillary or her husband, we can only remind people how consistently that approach has backfired in the past. Bill Clinton would certainly be a huge asset if Hillary decided to run.
In fact, Hillary is the only nationally known Democrat (other than her husband) who has weathered the Republican assaults and emerged with a favorable rating above 50 percent (54 percent positive in the latest Post-ABC poll).
Yes, she has a 42 percent negative rating, as do other nationally known Democrats. All the nationally un known Democrats would likely wind up with high negative ratings, too, once they'd been through the Republican attack machine.
The Power of Hillary, James Carville and Mark J. Penn.
Carville and Penn then go into some specifics about how Hillary could win.
Obviously, one couldn't find two more biased people to appraise Hillary's chances of winning. However, one would also be hard-pressed to find two more qualified people, at least on the Democratic side. And what they have to say makes a lot of sense.
The knock on Hillary is that people hate her so much, they'll turn out in droves to vote against her. I believed this myself until recently. But can you really imagine a big group of people who hate her who didn't hate Kerry? He was everything she is, but worse. She triangulates, he was pegged as the "I voted for it before I voted against it" guy. He waffles because he's indecisive; nobody doubts her decisiveness. She's called a liberal (which she isn't!) and he really is one. Kerry epitomized every negative Democratic stereotype: he's effete, aloof, and without charisma. Hillary doesn't have a lot of charisma, but at least she's tough and real.
She has what other Democratic candidates lack -- balls. I think the best line in the piece is: "One thing we know about Clinton campaigns: Nobody gets Swift Boated."
So true. There were MUCH more credible accusations about Bill Clinton's extra-marital affairs before he was elected, including some allegations of sexual harassment and worse, than anything the dirty Swift Boat Veterans dreamt up. Hell, he got a blowjob from an intern in the oval office, lied about it on national television, was successfully impeached, and his approval ratings remained well above 50%!
Hillary doesn't have his charisma or likeability. But she does have that toughness, and man, wouldn't it be nice to have a tough Democrat leading the country?
Maybe she can win.