- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Democrats are eager to show fierce loyalty to Hillary Rodham Clinton; indeed, it’s a badge of honor. But what will they do if she chooses not to run for the White House in 2016? It is a tricky situation that party strategists have yet to publicly address. The former senator and secretary of state is a mesmerizing symbol for Democrats, and the effect grows. That could get unwieldy.

Consider that a Rasmussen Reports poll released Wednesday reveals that 91 percent of Democratic voters see Mrs. Clinton as the “likely 2016 nominee.” These findings are consistent with similar surveys: It’s Hillary — or nobody. Vice President Joseph R. Biden barely registers on the radar, typically pulling in between 6 to 10 percent of voter support.

Mrs. Clinton, like her many Republican counterparts, is not sharing her intentions yet. She advises journalists that she’s mulling the politics and enjoying her life. She keeps private speaking engagements, has a behemoth memoir on the way and shows up at Clinton Foundation events where the talk is global in nature. The foundation’s big annual gala is May 1, incidentally. Maybe she’ll talk then. Maybe not.

There are rumors that Mrs. Clinton could be a presidential “placeholder” — keeping public interest cozy until the mystery Democratic hopeful shows up. Maybe it’s Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel or former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean. Maybe not. Eager independent political action committees, meanwhile, continue to raise millions for Mrs. Clinton noncampaign.

“If Hillary Clinton wants to be treated as a private citizen/celebrity/world traveler who doesn’t have to answer to voters and the media, she should disavow these PACs and ask her friends to stand down while she makes a decision. Short of that, she is a presidential candidate and should be treated as such,” says CNN political columnist Tim Miller.

“She’s a presidential candidate when she is being paid $200,000 to speak by companies that would lobby her administration should she be elected. She’s a presidential candidate when she’s traveling the country raising money for the Clinton Foundation from the same donor base that would fund her campaign. And she’s a presidential candidate when she’s choosing to avoid taking a stand on issues that might jeopardize her electoral chances,” Mr. Miller observes.

FOXIFIED

“He’s a mouthpiece for the far Left. Does he have an impact? That’s an interesting question. Probably not that much. [Stephen] Colbert is very committed to being a leftist. The gamble that CBS is taking is that they’re going away from the Johnny Carson template. Carson set the standard, which was not too much politics. A little here and there, make fun of everybody. But keep it light, and keep it good. So everybody can enjoy it.”

And so said Fox News host Bill O’Reilly on Mr. Colbert, the incoming CBS late night host, to the ladies of ABC’s “The View.” Mr. O’Reilly said the network is taking a gamble and that Mr. Colbert’s unapologetic progressive politics will alienate “40 percent of the country.”

Mr. O’Reilly’s network, meanwhile, has a few revelations which the “View” crew will find of interest. Debuting April 28, it’s “Outnumbered,” a new one-hour weekday political and policy program on Fox News to air at high noon, featuring four female panelists and “one rotating male.” Among the talent: Fox Business Network’s Sandra Smith, plus Fox News regulars Kimberly Guilfoyle, Andrea Tantaros, Jedediah Bila, Katie Pavlich and Kirsten Powers.

HOLA AMERICA

The much-coveted Hispanic voting bloc is estimated to number up to 30 million; it is seriously wooed by both Republican and Democratic parties in inventive ways. A little too inventive, perhaps.

“There are a lot of groups — political, religious, commercial — who are working hard to connect with a Hispanic audience. But reaching Latinos effectively requires an understanding of diversity among Hispanic Americans,” says Clint Jenkin, vice president of research of the Barna Group, which polled the demographic on very personal issues.

The organization found that Hispanic Americans say “commitment to family” is the most important way they can contribute to American society — followed by their work ethic, cultural heritage, “enjoyment of life” and commitment to faith. The research also found that while many cited Mexico as their ancestral home, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Spain, the Dominican Republic and El Salvador also come into play.

“It’s tempting to think of ‘Hispanic’ as a single culture, when really it’s convenient shorthand for a complex group of cultures. When we dig into the data, we find diverse attitudes and behaviors that reflect this complexity,” Mr. Jenkin says. “Anyone who wants to connect with Hispanic Americans, including faith leaders, needs to do their homework to appreciate these engagement factors.”

THE REVOLVING DOOR

“There are a lot of similarities, although the product is different. You also have two businesses that are very dynamic, you have complex issues with a lot of stakeholders, the environment changes fast, and you have a very interested, very vigilant press corps in both places.”

Dee Dee Myers, newly-named corporate spokeswoman for Warner Brothers and former press secretary in the Clinton White House, speaking to the Hollywood Reporter on the similarities between Hollywood and Washington.

ALASKA FUMES OVER COLORADO WEED

Colorado has been a test case for marijuana legalization in recent months. Yes, it could prove to be an economic boom. But voters already have remorse over the legislation: New polling reveals that majorities are not eager to mar Colorado’s “wholesome” image. Alaska, where the legalization issue will appear on a public ballot this fall, faces similar concerns.

The interest group “Big Marijuana-Big Mistake-Vote No on 2” is registered with the Alaska Public Offices Commission, and demand that “Ballot Measure 2,” which would legalize weed, be defeated. The group’s treasurer Deborah Williams, a youth counselor, calls the measure “extreme” and is annoyed by cute marijuana ads in Colorado that mask serious health concerns.

“She also questions whether Alaskans would be OK knowing that potent marijuana products like hash oil, wax, crumble and shatter would be legal under the proposed initiative,” writes Alaska News reporter Suzanna Caldwell, citing the street names of the stuff.

Ms. Williams has competition from the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Alaska, funded by the Marijuana Policy Project, a national interest group which has drawn 45,000 signatures to a pro-weed petition. While Colorado and Washington state sort out legalization complexities, Ms. Williams hopes Alaska will hold off on big decisions.

“What do we want our state to look like? Right now, the costs far outweigh the benefits,” she asks.

POLL DU JOUR

54 percent of U.S. voters say Hillary Rodham Clinton is “honest and trustworthy”; 27 percent of Republicans, 46 percent of independents and 85 percent of Democrats agree.

49 percent of voters overall say Jeb Bush is honest and trustworthy; 67 percent of Republicans, 46 percent of independents and 33 percent of Democrats agree.

41 percent say New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is honest and trustworthy; 52 percent of Republicans, 40 percent of independents and 31 percent of Democrats agree.

37 percent overall say President Obama “lies to the country on important matters” most of the time; 24 percent say he fibs some of the time, 20 percent say only now and then, 15 percent say he never lies.

Source: A Fox News poll of 1,012 registered U.S. voters conducted April 13-15.

Murmurs and asides to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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