- The Washington Times - Monday, April 13, 2015

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s newly minted presidential campaign has energized the wrong base: She’s activated Republicans determined to beat her and Democratic Party establishment eager to cash in on her fundraising prowess, while the liberal voters she covets remain tepid.

The former secretary of state tailored the launch of her campaign to appeal to the liberal base, declaring herself a champion of everyday Americans, taking a road trip to Iowa in a “Scooby Doo” van and vowing to restore fairness to an economy where a “CEO makes about 300 times what the average worker makes.”

Still, party activists gave her a cool reception and keep urging liberal firebrand Sen. Elizabeth Warren to challenge Mrs. Clinton for the nomination, though the Massachusetts Democrat has repeatedly rebuffed calls to get in the race.

Republican Party officials were more excited. They all but rejoiced over having the woman they love to hate back in the firing line.

“I actually like the idea of running against Hillary Clinton,” Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said Monday on CNN, noting that her use of a web video to announce her candidacy showed that she was still dodging reporters and carefully choreographing each step on the campaign trail.

“Her rollout was nothing but a big bore and actually she had to operate that way, because she can’t actually get out there in front of a press gaggle,” he said. ‘So what does she do? She gets in a minivan, which actually none of [the press] can actually speak to her about. She’s now going to have private listening sessions in Iowa. Again, no press, no controversy. You know, it’s not going to last long, I can assure you of that.”

The RNC’s campaign against Mrs. Clinton, dubbed #StopHillary, gained momentum in the run-up to her announcement Sunday.

In three days, the RNC accumulated $9.9 million in earned TV media and 1,675 individual hits across TV and radio, according to the party officials.

At the center of the RNC’s media blitz was a web video that highlighted the controversies swirling around Mrs. Clinton, including her exclusive use of a private email account while secretary of state and lingering questions about the 2012 terror attack on a U.S. mission in Benghazi that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

The effort included a petition and fundraising drive.

The Democratic Party also saw an opportunity to raise money off Mrs. Clinton.

“Without a doubt Hillary Clinton excites donors, activists and all Democratic voters in ways that few others can,” said a Democratic official, who didn’t want to be quoted talking about fundraising strategy.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee both immediately followed Mrs. Clinton’s announcement with email fundraising appeals to benefit their candidates.

The DCCC emphasized Mrs. Clinton’s potential to make history as the first female president of the United States, a pitch Mrs. Clinton also is expected to use as she courts women voters.

“The next Democratic president needs a Congress the he — or SHE — can work with,” screams the email. “Let’s put together a HUGE surge of grassroots support Democrats in the next 24 hours!”

DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Lujan’s statement about Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy was more muted.

“If chosen as our presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton will bring experience and energy to the campaign trail that will turn out hard-working families in New Mexico and across the country and excite a new generation of Democrats,” said the New Mexico Democrat.

Democratic campaign strategist Craig Varoga, who previously worked on President Bill Clinton’s 1996 reelection team, said the onslaught of GOP attacks will eventually help Mrs. Clinton win over her base.

“This is like Newton’s third law of physics: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction,” he said. “First, the RNC and conservative groups will send out feverish emails attacking Hillary as a way to raise money, because that’s what happens in a country that is deeply divided along party lines. Then these GOP attacks will further energize the Democratic base, helping the Clinton campaign with both donors and undecided Democrats.”

He said that, a year from now, both the Democratic and Republican bases will be “energized and ready to rumble.”

Meanwhile, Mrs. Clinton continued to aggressively court the party’s liberal base.

She sent supporters an email seeking contributions and touting her family’s humble history, again striking a populist chord.

“I’ve spent my entire life standing up for women, children, families and anyone who needed a little help along the way. That’s what this campaign will be about, and that’s what I’ll do every single day as your president,” said Mrs. Clinton. “It’s time for us to fight for people like my dad, who ran a small business and committed himself to building a better life for his family.

“People like my mom, who relied on the kindness of others to get through a tough childhood — and like my baby granddaughter, who deserves to grow up in a country where every single kid has the opportunity to live up to her or his potential,” she said in the email.

The former first lady, senator and secretary of state hammered home the populist message she debuted in her announcement video, repeating that she wants to be a champion for “everyday Americans.”

“I was raised with the belief that living in this country was one of the greatest blessings anyone could have.

“Today, for so many families, the path to lasting prosperity is unclear,” said Mrs. Clinton. “Families have fought their way back from tough economic times. But it’s not enough.”

She also downplayed the impression that she is the inevitable Democratic nominee, although she faces scant competition and remains the odds-on favorite to win the nomination.

“This won’t be easy. And I won’t take anything for granted. I’m going to work my heart out to earn every single vote, because I know it’s your time,” she told her supporters. “I want you with me on this. Chip in what you can today to help build our campaign.”

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