The endless campaign trail, the Benghazi hearings — they will challenge Hillary Clinton even if the news media continues to provide the Democratic presidential front-runner with flattering and often protective coverage, says Ed Klein, a veteran journalist and author of “Unlikeable: The Problem With Hillary.” He says the press often shields Mrs. Clinton, cobbling together a sympathetic image for the candidate even when public opinion polls suggest voters aren’t buying the narrative. The role of determined “survivor” could also come into play now that Vice President Joe Biden has opted out of a White House run.
But it may be all for naught.
“There are two things you have to remember about Hillary Clinton. One, she is like Houdini and tends to escape from every tight spot she encounters,” Mr. Klein tells Inside the Beltway.
“And two, leave it to Hillary to mess up again and again by saying something or doing something that will get her back into hot water. She does that because she’s either constantly hiding something, on the defensive or portraying herself as the victim. And in doing so, she congenitally lies and prevaricates — and gets caught in those lies and prevarications,” Mr. Klein says.
A GOWDY MOMENT
“My goal is not to be exciting.”
— Rep. Trey Gowdy, on his intentions during Hillary Clinton‘s appearance Thursday before the House Select Committee on Benghazi, to GQ magazine.
THE BIDEN-LESS RACE
The 2016 show must go on no matter what. Will Mrs. Clinton win the coveted Democratic nomination?
“Baggage — and pretty much just that baggage alone — can stop Clinton from winning the primary,” says Jacob Neiheisel, a University at Buffalo political professor who predicts she will “run to the left during the primaries to pick up supporters of Bernie Sanders,” then move toward the ideological middle during the general election campaign.
“Clinton’s biggest obstacles right now are herself and what comes out of the Benghazi hearings,” agrees James Campbell, also a political professor on the campus and an election forecaster. “I think her secondary concerns are her opponents. Stranger things have happened, but I don’t think there is a viable challenger to Clinton on the Democrats’ side.”
A COMPLICATED FLOOR PLAN
Hold tight, the next GOP presidential debate is only six days away. The big “Your Money, Your Vote” event gets underway in Boulder, Colorado, next Wednesday, and host network CNBC has already revealed who gets to stand where, based on their national poll standings. It’s complicated, symbolic and vexing for those posing on the chilly periphery.
Ten hopefuls stride out for the main event at 8 p.m. Front-runners Donald Trump and Ben Carson are smack in the middle. Carly Fiorina will be to the left of Mr. Carson, flanked by Sen. Ted Cruz, followed by Gov. Chris Christie, and Sen. Rand Paul at the very end. To the right of Mr. Trump, it’s Sen. Marco Rubio, followed by Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, and Gov. John Kasich at the end.
Meanwhile, the “undercard” debate for those in lesser poll standings will be staged at 6 p.m. featuring Gov. Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, George Pataki and Sen. Lindsey Graham.
SHOW AMERICA THE VIDEOS
Eight Republican lawmakers have not forgotten the disturbing undercover Planned Parenthood videos which have been essentially ignored by major broadcasters.
“It is absolutely outrageous that mainstream media networks such as ABC, NBC and CBS have chosen not to report on the disturbing undercover Planned Parenthood videos which depict the trafficking of infant body parts in the United States,” says Rep. Louie Gohmert, who cites a recent Media Research Center analysis that found the “Big Three” aired just over a minute of the 16 hours of video footage produced and released over a two-month period by the Center for Medical Progress.
The congressman from Texas composed an open letter to the presidents of all three networks, which was signed by Reps. Andy Barr, Jeff Duncan, Trent Franks, Tim Huelskamp, Walter B. Jones and Jeff Miller.
“In failing to cover this story, you provide unequivocal evidence that your coverage is politically driven and that journalistic integrity has been abandoned. It is imperative that you cover this dramatic assault on women and children,” the letter advised the networks, which have yet to respond, according to Mr. Gohmert’s office.
“They should be held accountable for their journalistic malpractice and disregard of such atrocities,” he advises, also noting that the Media Research Center and two dozen civic leaders also inquired about the scanty coverage — and they also “remain ignored.”
RYAN: THE REVIEWS ARE IN
Well, he made his intentions known. That would be Rep. Paul Ryan, who spelled out the near empirical conditions under which he would consider becoming speaker of the House, a role that officially opens Oct. 30 when John Boehner walks away from Capitol Hill forever. And here are the headlines about it all from the past day, showing — as usual — that pivotal moments are subject to much interpretation:
“His way or the highway? Ryan makes big demands for speaker run” (Fox News), “Conservatives rally against ‘Mafioso-style’ Paul Ryan speakership demands” (Breitbart News), “Paul Ryan’s unusual ultimatum for speakership: Family comes first” (Christian Science Monitor). “Paul Ryan, opponent of paid family leave, demands Congress respect his need for family time” (Jezebel), “Paul Ryan outfoxes the Freedom Caucus” (Time), “Freedom Caucus is key to Paul Ryan House speaker decision” (New York Times), “Paul Ryan’s shrewd move” (Commentary magazine).
RNC: THE MONEY IS IN
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus reveals that the organization raised $9.4 million in September, a record for an off-year September, and $25.2 million in the third quarter, a record for an off-year third quarter. The party has now raised over $80 million this cycle and has $19.4 million cash on hand.
“Our fundraising strength continues to outpace the Democratic National Committee and will give our nominee a distinct advantage over the Democrats heading into the general election next year,” a confident Mr. Preibus notes.
POLL DU JOUR
• 47 percent of Americans say Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email system is an important factor in deciding if they will vote for her.
• 44 percent say it is not important.
• 44 percent say they are not satisfied with Hillary Clinton’s response to Benghazi; 28 percent don’t know enough about the matter, 27 percent are satisfied with Mrs. Clinton’s response.
• 43 percent are “pessimistic and worried” over Mrs. Clinton’s possible election as president; 24 percent are “optimistic and confident”, 19 percent “satisfied and hopeful”, 13 percent “uncertain and wondering.”
• 36 percent say the Benghazi hearing will be “unfair and too partisan”; 35 percent don’t know enough to judge, 29 percent say it will be “fair and impartial.”
Source: An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll of 1,000 U.S. Adults conducted Oct. 15-18.
• Caterwaul and doggerel to email@example.com.