- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 7, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

While Republicans stand in a circular firing squad, choosing their presidential nominee in a process that looks a lot like the “Hunger Games,” Republican political operatives should be joining forces in a #NeverHillary effort.

No matter who the Republican nominee is, they are going to face one of the most entrenched, dirty, embittered, corrupt, well-funded, and ruthless opponents in the fall: Hillary Clinton. A Republican loss in the general election would further derail the country for another four years and what’s worse, threaten its very character.

It’s time for the #NeverTrump movement to cease, and for Republicans to start focusing their firepower on Mrs. Clinton.

It’s not like she doesn’t give them enough fodder.

For starters, her own party doesn’t like her. What should’ve been a cake-walk for the former secretary of State has turned into a longer slugfest than anticipated, with her losing six of the last contests to Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders. Right now, one in four voters for Mr. Sanders say they won’t support Mrs. Clinton in the general. The reason? Most say she’s not honest or trustworthy.

In Wisconsin this week, Mrs. Clinton was crushed in the honest and trustworthy category by 83 percent to 17 percent, according to exit polling.

It could be because she’s spent her entire life profiting off the government, whether it be renting the Lincoln bedroom with her husband during his presidency, or taking foreign donations into the Clinton Foundation while she served as secretary of State.

Voters on both sides are concerned about her commitment to transparency — setting up a server in her home to avoid freedom of information requests, and the 174 FBI agents involved in the subsequent federal investigation (which could lead to an indictment). Anxiety also looms around the $675,000 she made in speeches to Wall Street and her refusal to release those transcripts.

And, Mrs. Clinton has a women problem. Yes, Mr. Trump has been dealing with his own unfavorable numbers in this area, but Mrs. Clinton is almost on-par with him.

Fifty-eight percent of women say they view Mrs. Clinton unfavorably, two points higher among women than men, according to a poll conducted by McLaughlin & Associates this month. By comparison, 68 percent of women have an unfavorable view of Mr. Trump.

“But Hillary Clinton’s negatives among women voters are broad and deep,” write the pollsters in the National Review. “Hillary Clinton’s unfavorable ratings outweigh her favorability ratings. in every region: In the East. 53 percent view her unfavorably; in the Midwest. 62 percent unfavorable; in the South 60 percent unfavorable; in the West. 54 percent unfavorable.”

In a head-to-head contest with Mr. Trump, 62 percent of the undecided voters are women, and among them, 82 percent view Mrs. Clinton has unfavorable, the pollsters said.

These are numbers Republicans should be looking to exploit.

Then there’s the policy. Mr. Trump would undoubtedly be better than Mrs. Clinton on Second Amendment issues where Mrs. Clinton has slammed the Supreme Court as “wrong” on the Heller case, which found the handgun ban in Washington D.C. as unconstitutional, and has called for reinstating the assault weapons ban.

With the Supreme Court balance up for grabs, there’s little doubt she’ll pick a more liberal judge than Merrick Garland. Mr. Trump, at least, will be open to suggestion from conservative and federalist groups about whom his picks should be.

Mrs. Clinton’s foreign policy isn’t much better. Yes, it’s predictable and consistent — something neocons appreciate — but it often lacks judgment.

Mrs. Clinton led the U.S. intervention in Libya — convincing President Obama a muscular effort was needed to promote the Democratic ideals. Except after the United States got in, Mrs. Clinton lacked the wherewithal — or resolve — to stay, leaving a power vacuum in the area that has been filled by ISIS.

Her “reset” with Russia was a disaster, and Benghazi was on her watch. She also voted for the Iraq War, only to admit it was a mistake on the 2008 campaign trail — five years later.

Mr. Trump’s foreign policy may be a mess, but there’s time for him to refine and define it. Since entering the primary, he’s backed away from his “neutral” stance on Israel, and has, despite what some may say, brought up good points on how NATO should be receiving more scrutiny from Washington.

“When Trump talks about NATO being obsolete, it is dismissed as crazy rhetoric,” said Job Henning, a defense analyst who recently wrote a piece advocating for broad reform of the alliance, to The Hill. “But he is actually asking questions that are pretty similar to what a lot of people have been asking.”

Mr. Trump isn’t the perfect candidate, but Mrs. Clinton is far worse. Anyone who says #NeverTrump should really think hard if Mrs. Clinton is truly who they want occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Kelly Riddell is a columnist for The Washington Times.

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