- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 15, 2013

“These are the tactics of the Third World.”

— Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, commenting on the combined effects of the Benghazi matter, the Justice Department seizure of Associated Press phone records and the IRS probe of conservative groups, before the Senate.

HILLARY + BENGHAZI = NO 2016

The equation of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Benghazi is an uneasy one. Unanswered questions about the terrorist attack eight months ago could prevent the former secretary of state from entering the 2016 presidential race — a palpable fear among Democrats who treasure Mrs. Clinton’s favorable poll numbers and the prospect that former President Bill Clinton could actually end up as “first gentleman.” But wait. If Benghazi compromises Mrs. Clinton’s chances of a White House run, is it the fault of Republicans — or President Obama?

Depends on who’s talking.

“Republicans are trying to bully Hillary Clinton out of running for president by attacking her on Benghazi,” points out Jonathan Easley, who cites former White House strategist David Axelrod’s latest theory. “I really view the Benghazi flare-up right now as throwing a high hard one at Hillary Clinton to try and dissuade her from running for president,” Mr. Axelrod told MSNBC on Wednesday.

It’s not just the Grand Old Party that puts Mrs. Clinton at risk, however.

“After a trifecta of scandals buffeting President Obama Clinton’s close connections with Obama could become politically problematic,” observes National Review analyst Josh Kraushaar.

“Being so closely tied to Obama, she could reap some blowback if any of these scandals metastasize. If they do, Democratic voters may be looking for a fresher face, someone who has spent less time in Washington,” says Mr. Kraushaar, though he notes Mrs. Clinton already “knows something about being embarrassed by a president.”

HILLARY‘S PROWESS

And what about all that legendary Hillary Rodham Clinton favorability? Does she really have the edge? It appears the Republicans could have something to fret about.

According to the likely 2016 presidential matchups in a Public Policy Polling survey released Wednesday, Mrs. Clinton leads among Democrats with 63 percent of the votes, compared to 13 percent for Vice President Joseph R. Biden, 4 percent for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and 3 percent each for Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

In a matchup against Sen. Rand Paul, Mrs. Clinton clinched 51 percent of the vote among all voters, compared to 41 percent for the Kentucky Republican. She wins 47 percent to 44 percent, respectively, when facing off against New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Against Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Mrs. Clinton wins, 47 percent to 41 percent over the Florida lawmaker.

AN UNLIKELY CRITIC

“There’s a dangerous narrative emerging for President Obama in the wake of these controversies involving Benghazi, the IRS and The Associated Press. It says he’s passive and uninterested in governing. In the face of the cascade of negative stories the president seemed to lack a response. He’s allowed the impression to emerge out there that, as I said last night, he’s a ship with the engine turned off.”

Story Continues →