Analysis

Why Republicans are really scared of Hillary Clinton

Newt Gingrich says nobody on the GOP bench will be able to compete with Hillary in 2016. What makes him think she's unstoppable?

Hillary Clinton has famously and repeatedly insisted that she won't launch another bid for the White House in 2016. But she's more popular by a long shot than any other potential presidential hopeful, boasting 60 percent approval ratings. That, says Liz Marlantes at The Christian Science Monitor, is "higher than former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (39 percent), Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida (33 percent), Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin (47 percent), and Vice President Joe Biden (46 percent)." With those numbers, "would she be unbeatable?" Failed 2012 GOP candidate Newt Gingrich seems to think so. If Clinton runs, Gingrich told NBC's Meet the Press this week, she'll be "supported by Bill Clinton and presumably a still relatively popular President Barack Obama." Gingrich continued: "The Republican Party today is incapable of competing at that level." Well, Gingrich may be overstating things, says Marlantes:

Wow. We realize Gingrich has been rehabilitating himself as a Republican wise man of sorts — and for partisan pundits, provocative critiques of one's own party are always a great way to generate attention (we're writing about it, aren't we?). But to blithely write off the chances of the entire 2016 GOP field a full four years in advance is eyebrow-raising, even for a politician as prone to "grandiose" (as he once put it) statements as Gingrich.

We agree that Clinton would, indeed, be a formidable candidate, but we're not sure she’d be as impossible to beat as Gingrich suggests.

Well, Hillary would at least be close to unstoppable in the Democratic primaries, says Allahpundit at Hot Air. No "Democratic voter in his or her right mind is going to roll the dice" on some governor with no national profile, such as Andrew Cuomo of New York or Martin O'Malley of Maryland, when they can have Hillary "and the Clinton machine instead."

I think Republican voters will feel tremendous pressure to nominate someone with enough star power of their own that they won't be completely overshadowed by her in the general. That's good news for Rubio and Chris Christie, not such good news for [Louisiana Gov. Bobby] Jindal and Rand Paul. Rubio would also benefit insofar as he and Jindal would likely be the only Republicans with a "historic candidacy" narrative capable of somewhat neutralizing Hillary's. The wild card is Jeb Bush, insofar as he's the only prospective nominee — at least right now — whose "brand" is as well known as the Clintons'.

Judging by Gingrich's trepidation, Republicans are indeed "having cold sweats over the prospects of facing Hillary Clinton at the ballot box," says Ed Pilkington at Britain's The Guardian. And with good reason. She's a former First Lady, an ex-senator, and a successful secretary of state who has already shown she can stand up to the rigors of a hard-knuckled presidential campaign. Looking around at the possible standard-bearers in their ranks, many Republicans may conclude that "if Clinton decides to stand in 2016, they are toast."

Gingrich's frank words are revealing because they show how fearsome the Democratic trinity of the two Clintons and Obama appears to the Republicans. "She is married to the most popular Democrat in the country. They both think it would be good for her to be president. That makes it virtually impossible to stop her for the nomination, I think," he said.

Gingrich, who knows all about the terrifying powers of the Clintons, having been Republican House speaker during the Bill Clinton administration, went further, saying that the Republican Party in its current guise would be ill-equipped to take them on.

Newt's observations "suggest that influential Republicans are waking up to the reality that the party's brand has been greatly damaged over the past decade," says RTT News. And maybe deciding that your party "deserves to be the underdogs" is a positive step.

While a number of top conservative thinkers have blamed their crushing election defeat on the choice of Mitt Romney as nominee, Gingrich admits the party's problems run much deeper.

"We didn't blow it because of Mitt Romney. We blew it because of a party which has refused to engage the reality of American life and refused to take — to think through what the average American needs for a better future," he told David Gregory [on Meet the Press].

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