By Mike Pitstick
When conceding the 2008 Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton announced to her supporters, “Although we weren’t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it’s got about 18 million cracks in it.” Pundits wondered if she would challenge President Obama in 2012, or if she would wait to run in 2016, but no one expected that she would give up. The prospect of her next presidential campaign has never been an “if,” but a “when.”
Mrs. Clinton’s unconventional announcement came via YouTube last Sunday, April 12, and surprised many who were not expecting her to show her hand so early. The video features individuals from various backgrounds, hitting practically every demographic. Her message is simple: “Everyday Americans need a champion. I want to be that champion.”
The same air of inevitability surrounds Mrs. Clinton now as it did back in 2008, but so far it’s unclear what policies she will be emphasizing. Her website is noticeably barren of any actual issues, including only a glossy biography, volunteer links and numerous opportunities to “share/like this on Twitter/Facebook.” If she’s gunning for millennials, she’s on the right track, emphasizing style over substance.
Of course, she has plenty of time to hone her policy positions. The Iowa caucuses aren’t until January, and Mrs. Clinton has no clear competition. Recent polling has Mrs. Clinton clearly leading the pack, with hypothetical candidates like Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland in single-digits.
On the other side of the aisle, the Republican nomination contest is anything but decided, and presidential hopefuls are already targeting Hillary. However, the candidates will need to distinguish themselves from each other, not just from Mrs. Clinton. One potential candidate, Governor John Kasich of Ohio, suggests it’s better not to run against Hillary.
“I don’t think you have to run against her. I think you run for what you’re for. I think you create a vision for people that everybody is included,” he said in a Fox News interview in January.
In distinguishing themselves, Republicans will need to emphasize strong policy positions to which the public can relate. Making the election about Mrs. Clinton keeps the spotlight on her, which doesn’t help the eventual Republican nominee.
Hillary’s long shadow will be nearly impossible for fellow Democrats to escape. Like Republican alternatives to Mitt Romney in 2012, Democrats hoping to get the nod for 2016 will have to position themselves against Mrs. Clinton, the heavy favorite. Fortunately for her, no one is well-positioned to take her on just yet. If anyone does jump in, they will have plenty of fodder. Mrs. Clinton will have to answer for eight years as First Lady, six years as a senator from New York and four years as Secretary of State, as well as for whatever other skeletons lay in wait in the Clintons’ collective closet.
A recent release by the Holocaust Memorial Museum indicates that former President Clinton was aware of the Rwandan genocide as it occurred, and that he knew it was likely before it occurred. In 1998, Mr. Clinton claimed that he had no knowledge of the incident at the time. New scandals from various points in both Clintons’ careers seem to be surfacing fairly regularly, and Mrs. Clinton will have to explain these discrepancies as she seeks the presidency in her own right. Hillary is the 2016 Goliath, and it’s unclear if anyone is yet prepared to take on the role of David – whether in her own party or among the Republicans – but there’s no lack of stones to be slung.