Republicans Are Afraid Of Hillary

Reporting from the RNC’s meeting in California, Zeke Miller notes that Republican insiders are dreading the prospect of another Hillary for President campaign:

HOLLYWOOD — Republican leaders plotted their party’s political comeback on Thursday with plans to court minority voters and modernize their political operations. But some wondered if one person could make it all for naught: Hillary Clinton.

As attendees of the Republican National Committee’s spring meeting debated party rules and a refurbished GOP brand capable of winning back the White House, more than two dozen operatives and officials expressed worry that none of their party’s potential 2016 candidates can take her down.

One early primary state RNC member put it simply: “If she gets in, we’re toast.”


The Clinton fears have Republicans gearing up early for the 2016 campaign. America Rising, the new GOP super PAC founded by former RNC and Romney aides, has already begun digging up opposition research on Clinton, along with other potential Democratic candidates.

Overhearing discussions about Clinton in the hallway outside the RNC meeting, Jorge Landivar, a Ron Paul-backing delegate to the 2012 Republican convention from Texas, chimed in: “All the polls say she will destroy anyone that we put up — it’s [f—ng] terrifying.”  National polling from Quinnipiac University finds that Clinton, the most popular national political figure, would defeat  New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie 45 – 37 percent; Florida Sen. Marco Rubio 50 – 34 percent and Rep. Paul Ryan 50 – 38 percent.

Ron Kaufman, the RNC committeeman from Massachusetts and a senior Romney campaign advisor, acknowledged that Clinton looks as powerful as a sitting president. But he cautioned Republicans to remember how quickly the political winds can shift. “Right now she is the closest thing you’ll get to an incumbent in an open race,” said Kaufman, who served as George H. W. Bush’s White House political director. “But at this time in the cycle, Bush 41 was unbeatable.”

It’s understandable why Republicans are somewhat fearful of a Hillary candidacy. While it’s still very early in the 2016 cycle, her lead in the polls is incredible at the moment and it’s hard to see anything happening that is going to bring those numbers down over the next several years. At the same time, it’s blindingly clear that the GOP still has not dealt with the problems that led to their losses in the last two Presidential election. Until that happens, the prospect of facing a politician on the level of Hillary Clinton must just be terrifying.


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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    But the Republicans’ fear of losing to Hillary is nothing compared to their fear she’ll treat them just like they treated her.

    It’s one thing to know an ass-whoopin’ is coming; it’s another thing entirely to know your ass-whoopin’ is deserved.

  2. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    Or, as I’ve written here before, I so badly want Hillary to run just to see the look on Republicans’ faces when they realize Obama was the Good Cop.

  3. grumpy realist says:

    Ooooh…this is gonna be fun. I do hope that ol’ Hill decides to throw her hat in the ring, just to watch the Repubs pissing themselves sideways ad infinutem.

    Hillary Clinton vs. Rand Paul. A girl’s gotta dream, don’t she?

    (Hillary Clinton vs. Santorum is also a thigh-slapper, but doesn’t last as long.)

  4. Gromitt Gunn says:

    I think that one of their problems should she choose to run is that her role as Secretary of State was essentially a non-political one. The entire country knows and – and except for the youngest voters – has processed her pre-SoS negatives from the grueling 2008 primary season. And since she’s stayed in the limelight through being SoS since then, there isn’t any new voting record to go after.

    At this point, the years of the Big Dog are water far under the bridge. Her role as Senator has been hashed and rehashed. I just don’t see there being anything new absent some sort of Dean scream or Muskie crying type of gaffe that derails her, if she wants it.

  5. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    If/when Hillary does run, I honestly hope she keeps Biden as VP. He’s perfect for the role.

  6. Tsar Nicholas says:


    Hillary is ruthless and skilled. The media will report positively for her, and negatively against whomever turns out to be her opponent. Obviously Hillary automatically would receive ~90% of the black vote, as would any Democrat, but Hillary aparently also will play well with various key white demographics too. Her unfavorables back in the 90’s and even up through 2008 or thereabouts were off the charts, but Zombieland loses brain cells by the day and can’t remember what happened 15 minutes ago, much less 15 years ago. Hillary could receive ~41% of the white vote and still win the election. Not quite Obama territory, but still quite scary, indeed.

    Ultimately it might be a moot point. The ’15-’16 GOP primary cycle is shaping up to be the most colossal political farce in history. An inevitable pissing match about social issues, as the people who actually decide the outcome of elections can’t make ends meet. Square peg, triangular hole, if you catch the drift. Whether Hillary or otherwise the Dems by default might win the next Prez election.

  7. C. Clavin says:

    “…it’s blindingly clear that the GOP still has not dealt with the problems that led to their losses in the last two Presidential election…”

    Sure they did.
    They sent Rand Paul over to Howard University to lie to all the black folks there.
    Mission Accomplished.

  8. Ed in NJ says:

    Ron Kaufman seems to be proving why Romney was such a failure.

    Making a comparison with Bush 41 at this point in the “cycle” is ridiculous. Hillary is not in office, so it’s very difficult for the political winds to shift much outside of a personal scandal. Her favorability ratings are actually going to go up as futile attempts to yell “Benghazi” over and over fade to black.

  9. Brett says:

    I can understand their fears.

    If Hillary Clinton runs in 2016, she’ll have two immense advantages: access to the body of skilled personnel and fund-raising apparatus that helped power Obama’s two successful presidential campaigns, and the fact that she’s been in the presidential limelight for so long that almost certainly anything that could be used in oppo research has already been dug up and used. Seriously, can you think of a single potential scandal that hasn’t already been dragged over the coals?

    Meanwhile, any Republican is going to be less well-established, with much more potential dirt and problems to emerge. They’ll have to build a successful campaign organization out of the ashes of two failed campaigns, and hope that the flood of money from Republican billionaires helps to make up the difference.

  10. rudderpedals says:

    The whole social conservative and hawkisness and deficit fetishist agendas are sincerely (not reasonably, but sincerely) keyed to plucking the fear strings. Fear of deficits, fear of muslims, fear of what the queers are doing to our soil etc. Of course they’re afraid of Hilary.

  11. al-Ameda says:

    Interesting, isn’t it? The Republican Party makes a big show of presenting Sarah Palin as the ass-kicking street fighting woman who will run roughshod over a cowering Democratic Party. How has that worked out? Palin gets her ass kicked by her own comments, and comics like Stewart and Maher and Colbert humiliate her by quoting her.

    Hillary on the other hand is industrial strength tough – everything the GOP thought Palin would be.

  12. @Tsar Nicholas:

    “The media will report positively for her, and negatively against whomever turns out to be her opponent.”

    You are so lazy sometimes, man…

    If you had written that in 2000, yeah….you might have had a point. But in 2013…hell, by 2016….it’s just dumb. Fox News, the most-watched cable news channel, is going to “report positively for her, and negatively against whomever?” Really?

    but Zombieland loses brain cells by the day and can’t remember what happened 15 minutes ago, much less 15 years ago

    Says the guy stuck in the 90s.

    I will agree with this:

    Her unfavorables back in the 90′s and even up through 2008 or thereabouts were off the charts

    That’s true….I’m also terrified of a Hillary run. For different reasons.

    I know that the Republicans have no issue recycling multiple generations of Bushes, Romneys, and Pauls…..but I would hope that on my side of the aisle, we don’t actually have that problem.

  13. C. Clavin says:

    Hillary has made really dumb political decisions…until she proves that she has smartened up in that area…I’m not sold.
    On the other hand…the Republicans ran on the economy in 2012 and still lost.
    Just this morning the bean counters handed me a really fat 401K statement.
    What are the Republicans going to run on in ’16 if they don’t even have the economy? Gay rights will only work against them. We saw what their war on women got them. Immigration? Probably settled for the most part. Nat’l security? Absent something unforeseen…who on the republican side can beat Clintons credentials?

  14. stonetools says:

    While I understand why the Democrats must be salivating over riding the Hillary Train to a landslide victory over the Republicans, I kind of hope that they dig deep and go with some younger generation candidate, for the reasons Herb stated.
    Even so, I’m hard put to think of a younger candidate that would be anywhere as good or as popular as Hillary. I’d be interested in anyone you guys here have in mind. I count as alternatives:-

    Mark Warner
    Martin O’Malley
    Brian Schweitzer
    Andrew Cuomo
    Deval Patrick

    Some combination of that will be the likely ticket, with maybe a Kirsten Gillebrand or Kathleen Sibelius getting a look-in for Veep. Anyone see any other options?

  15. Brett says:

    What about the Mayor of San Antonio, Julian Castro? He gave the keynote speech at the 2012 Democratic Convention, and I could see he could be a break-out candidate- the guy’s got charisma.

  16. Stonetools says:


    He definitely a future star, but 2020 at the earliest. He has to win a statewide office first and that will be tough in Texas.

  17. Franklin says:

    This is one of the reasons Republicans spent so much time on Benghazi, they needed more dirt because she keeps rising from the grave.

  18. Tsar Jan Bithead Nicholas says:

    @stonetools: Brian Schweitzer needs to evolve.

  19. James in Silverdale, WA says:

    @Gold Star for Robot Boy: “It’s one thing to know an ass-whoopin’ is coming; it’s another thing entirely to know your ass-whoopin’ is deserved.”

    Hillary to GOP: “Fetch me a switch. And better not be so small one, or I’ll whup your ass with the whole tree!”

  20. Davebo says:

    You nailed it.

    Republicans fear the elastic in their underwear and contrails coming off jet aircraft.

    A fear of Hillary is petty by comparison.