- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A slow August in political news has created a vacuum that the press and pundits are filling with Clinton-watch: the guessing game as to whether Hillary Rodham Clinton is running for president in 2016, when she might announce and what effect her proto-campaign is having on President Obama’s ability to govern.

Despite her attempts to keep a low profile, Mrs. Clinton has remained in the headlines — most recently when scandal-plagued former Rep. Anthony D. Weiner said his wife, Huma Abedin, would play a role in Mrs. Clinton’s 2016 campaign.

Mrs. Clinton’s name also hung over the Republican National Committee meeting last week as delegates voted to ban networks that air pro-Clinton programming from hosting GOP presidential primary debates.

All of it has contributed to a deluge of media coverage for Mrs. Clinton during the dog days of summer.

“Not only is this blanket media coverage ridiculous, but it is actually damaging to Clinton,” said Larry J. Sabato, a professor at the University of Virginia and author of “Feeding Frenzy: Attack Journalism and American Politics.” “The storyline is bound to change several times before 2016. This may set a new standard for peaking too soon.”

Political talk shows last weekend featured discussions about the growing speculation over a Clinton candidacy.

The New Republic has posted an article questioning whether Mrs. Clinton’s campaign might be stopped by another force: her death. After looking at demographic profiles for a 65-year-old woman, they concluded that she likely would last through the election.

Mr. Weiner, a mayoral candidate in New York, helped spark the conversation last week when he said he knows the role his wife will have in Mrs. Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.

“I do,” he said at a Buzzfeed-sponsored forum.

The comments sparked a barrage of headlines and prompted the Clinton team to say it had no clue what Mr. Weiner was talking about, which generated more headlines.

The RNC was adopting a resolution that would bar CNN and NBC from hosting Republican primary debates in 2016 if the networks push forward with plans to a run documentary and a miniseries about the former first lady.

“Hillary Clinton is likely to run for president in 2016, and CNN and NBC have both announced programming that amounts to little more than extended commercials promoting former Secretary Clinton,” the resolution said. “These programming decisions are an attempt to show political favoritism and put a thumb on the scales for the next presidential election.”

Mrs. Clinton’s outsized status among the field of potential Democrats fuels the interest, said Mark McKinnon, a consultant who worked for former President George W. Bush.

“The taller she stands politically, the harder the wind blows,” he said. “It comes with being a front-runner in the day of modern media and politics.”

Craig Shirley, a biographer of former President Ronald Reagan, said the growing speculation about Mrs. Clinton’s future could cause Mr. Obama some heartburn as the 2014 and 2016 elections approach.

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