Can Pirro Beat Clinton?
Dick Morris believes the Republicans have a decent chance of beating Hillary Clinton in her bid for re-election to the Senate with the candidacy of Jeanine Pirro.
PIRRO VS. CLINTON: A REAL FIGHT FOR HILL (NY Post)
WESTCHESTER DA Jeanine Pirro is about to formally announce her candidacy for Senate from New York, which will pit her against Hillary in a battle royal. This is just the kind of fight that Sen. Clinton would have hoped to avoid.
While Hillary would have no problem dispatching an opponent like Nixon son-in-law Edward Cox or Yonkers Mayor John Spencer (the two other possible GOP contenders), Pirro presents a real problem.
Jeanine Pirro is pro-choice, pro-gun control, pro-affirmative action, pro-gay-civil unions and pro-immigration. And, of course, she’s a woman.
In a sense, Hillary will have to end up running against someone who is quite like herself in her public positions: Except, of course, Pirro is a good old-fashioned anti-tax, anti-crime, tough-on-terror Republican from the suburbs.
Hillary would love to cloak her Senate re-election as a necessity in the face of a determined GOP effort to overturn Roe vs. Wade and to roll back the clock on gun controls. But against Pirro, she will be disarmed of all her best issues. She will have to run on her own record, which is limited at best.
Pirro, on the other hand, can point out that Hillary refuses to say that she will serve out her term if elected Ã¢€” since we all know that the day the returns are in she will start her campaign for president. (Hillary has her own twist on the famous line of Gen. Sherman: “If elected, I refuse to serve”).
The Quinnipiac Poll recently found that Hillary beat Pirro by more than 30 percentage points Ã¢€” but in the same poll, 60 percent of the state’s voters said that Mrs. Clinton should pledge to serve out her full term if she runs for the Senate.
Honestly, this strikes me as far-fetched indeed. New Yorkers elected Clinton easily six years ago and she has represented them quite ably. She’s incredibly popular and has a huge advantage in name recognition, money, and organization.
This part is only slightly more intriguing:
And Pirro doesn’t need to beat Hillary to wound her. If she finishes less than the 12 points behind Clinton that Rick Lazio managed in the 2000 election, it will be a victory of sorts. Hillary will have some explaining to do to tell why fewer New Yorkers wanted her to be re-elected than voted for her in the first place. And, at some point, Mrs. Clinton may feel Pirro gaining on them and wonder if it is worth the battle.
Hillary almost has a lock on the Democratic nomination in 2008 and can build up a massive financial and political lead over all possible rivals. But if she is engaged in a nip-and-tuck battle in New York to keep what she already has, she will have to divert $30 million or $40 million from her presidential race and spend her time in Rochester, rather than in Iowa. If Pirro posts some early gains, particularly upstate, where it is cheap to do early advertising, Hillary and Bill may read the handwriting on the wall and she may pull out of the race.
She has already pledged to run for re-election and it strikes me that she has much more to lose by ducking a race she’ll almost surely win than by spending a few million to fight. And it’s absurd that whatever money she spends on the Senate run is money out of her ’08 race. She’s wealthy but not nearly enough so that she’d be self-financing. From a campaign finance standpoint, ’08 and ’06 are completely unrelated; for that matter, the ’08 primaries and the ’08 general election are completely different races. Money is a non-issue for Clinton; the question is whether her opponents can keep up.
And, as Stephen Green points out, “Morris has a long track record of being exactly wrong where Hillary is concerned.” Quite so. I’d be happy if Morris were to be proven right in this case, but wishful thinking is not a useful substitute for analysis.
Orin Judd actually adds some:
Ms Clinton has nothing to gain in this race. Even if she wins by a large margin she was supposed to. Lose and it’s all over. Win narrowly and it’s damaging. Meanwhile, Ms Pirro forces her Left on social issues, where she needs to be headed Right. Since ducking the race allows Ms Clinton to avoid two extra years of Senate votes it’s a possibility that can’t be ruled out.
Not to mention the fact that, as John Podhoretz reminds us, sitting Senators almost always lose presidential elections.
Still, Clinton has already said she’s in. Getting re-elected adds to her resume–which is, after all, quite thin from a presidential perspective–and continues to have a platform for demonstrating that she’s really a moderate.