I’ve been saying for some time that Hillary Clinton will not be as formidable a Presidential candidate as many people assume. That view finds support in this Gallup poll, which finds that 51% of registered voters “definitely will not vote for” Hillary. That would make it tough for her to win, and a “likely voter” survey would probably yield worse results.
I think that nearly everyone’s impression of Hillary Clinton is pretty well fixed. She has been on the national scene since 1991, and in addition to the attention she received as First Lady, nearly all of it favorable, her years as a Senator have been covered lavishly in the press. So, while a well-conducted campaign might move the numbers slightly, I doubt that there is much room for Hillary to improve her standing with the voters. If anything, a Presidential campaign will probably drive her negatives higher. And I suspect that quite a few voters who express a positive view of Hillary would nevertheless hesitate to vote for her once they focus seriously on the prospect of Bill Clinton as First Husband, with a shadowy and unknowable influence inside the White House.
In a way, this could be liberating for the Democrats. My guess is that they can come up with a better candidate–although I’m not sure who–and I think it will be good for the party to put the Clinton era behind it.
Yesterday, I heard John McCain on Michael Medved’s radio show. It was a reminder of how good McCain can be. And how conservative: the first caller said that McCain is regarded as a moderate Republican, and asked, what is the difference between a moderate Republican and a moderate Democrat? McCain responded, “Well, first of all, I’m a conservative. I have a lifetime rating of 82% from the American Conservative Union, and the only reason it isn’t higher is because a lot of conservatives disagree with me on campaign finance reform. So, I’m a proud conservative.”
Later, a caller asked McCain whether he was critical of President Bush’s telephoning the anti-abortion demonstrators in Washington. McCain said not at all; this was a tradition that goes back to President Reagan. McCain said that he has a 27-year pro-life voting record. He was unapologetic and unequivocal.
McCain’s age is an issue, but not an insurmountable one if he comes across as mentally and physically vigorous in three years, as I’m pretty sure he will. We and other conservatives have parted company with McCain on several important issues, most notably taxes and regulation of political speech. But he will be a powerhouse Presidential candidate, and it may not take too much to win over conservative Republicans like me. Especially if the choice comes down to McCain or a Democrat like Hillary Clinton, whom I’m pretty sure McCain would trounce.
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