By Cinzia Croce
As the 2016 presidential campaign got underway, the conventional wisdom was that Hillary Clinton would quickly secure the Democratic nomination while it would be months before the GOP would crown its nominee. Some even raised the specter of a brokered convention. But as the Iowa caucuses approach, it appears the opposite may come to pass: Hillary having to slug it out for months while Donald Trump runs the table.
The clearest sign that Hillary’s campaign is in trouble is Sen. Claire McCaskill — one of the most effective attack dogs in the business — calling Bernie Sanders a socialist. A few days ago, the New York Times reported Ms. McCaskill declaring,“The Republicans won’t touch him [Sanders] because they can’t wait to run an ad with a hammer and sickle”. “Hammer and sickle”? Not even a perfunctory “Bernie is a socialist” stop before launching the “Bernie is a communist” attack?! Hillary must be in deep trouble.
It has already been noted by some that Hillary’s 2016 effort is fast becoming a replay of her 2008 campaign. Once again she finds herself campaigning as the pragmatic, experienced, ready-on-day-one candidate. Once again she faces an opponent appealing to progressives’ hopes and dreams. While Bernie is launching feel-good ads to the tune of Simon & Garfunkel’s “America”, Hillary is back to promising she can answer the 3:00 a.m. telephone call.
Not only the ghosts of 2008 are haunting Hillary. The 1990s also have returned to complicate her path to the nomination. When Hillary reached for the “war on women” tactic to attack Trump, he counter-punched by highlighting her role in discrediting women who were allegedly harassed by Bill. What longtime Clinton aide Betsy Wright coined as stomping out ‘bimbo eruptions.’ Suddenly, young female supporters are having second thoughts about Hillary being the first woman president.
As the campaign stumbles in Iowa and New Hampshire, Hillary has to increasingly rely on the strong support she has among black and Latino voters. A voting bloc which will play a crucial role as the Democratic primary moves south. Perhaps it was an attempt to protect Hillary’s lead among minority voters that prompted ally David Brock to deride Bernie’s “America” ad as too focused on white voters. Unfortunately for Hillary, the 1990s came back to haunt Mr. Brock, too as the Sanders campaign fired back by reminding voters of his role in attacking Anita Hill. Suddenly, the South Carolina firewall is starting to look a little shaky.
The good news for Hillary is that the Benghazi Select Committee is still around. A quick call to Trey Gowdy to arrange another eleven-hour hearing and her campaign will be humming again. After all, Hillary always shines when she is taking on the right.