Seven—count ‘em—seven Republican 2016 hopefuls will be traveling through Iowa over an eleven-day stretch between August 2 and August 12, kissing babies, praising pigs, bashing teachers and, most of all, tearing into President Obama—when the person they’ll be running against in 2016, of course, will be Hillary Clinton, not Obama. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry will all be there. Not one of them has a snowball’s chance in Nevada of getting the nomination, which will go to one of the more “mainstream” Republicans: Chris Christie, Jeb Bush (Jeb Bush?!), Paul Ryan, or maybe one of the dark-horse GOP governors, such as Scott Walker (Wisconsin) or Mike Pence (Indiana). But Iowa, where Christian conservative caucus-goers hold the high cards, will send one or two of the GOP’s kooky far right into New Hampshire, and so they’re each hoping they’ll be the one. Perry, the goofy governor of Texas, is trying to go from Mr. Oops! to Mr. Iowa, with nine events scheduled in the state by this Tuesday, according to The Des Moines Register, leading the pack by far with a total of twenty-three appearances in Iowa.
The Register, in another piece, quotes an Iowa political analyst, Steffen Schmidt, thusly:
It probably would have been better if five or nine were coming because some smart-aleck political analyst will no doubt comment about Hillary Clinton as Snow White and the seven dwarfs.
There is widespread discontent bordering on despair among Republicans looking ahead to 2016, which is what probably accounts for the continuing speculation about whether Mitt Romney will suddenly emerge as the GOP’s favorite son once again, along with concern that so far the Republicans have been unable to put forward even a single female candidate to challenge what, after all, will be a female Democrat in 2016. Meanwhile, despite growing hopes and dreams among progressives that someone will emerge to challenge Clinton from the left—such as Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Zephyr Teachout, someone!—the former first lady and secretary of state is building an unassailable redoubt. (The latest CNN/ORC poll, released July 29, has Clinton leading Warren 67-10.) And while the Republicans are bashing Obama nonstop, ridiculously suing him in court, threatening impeachment and denouncing the White House’s alleged tyranny, Clinton is conducting her own assault on Obama, from the right, especially in regard to what she considers her strong suit, foreign policy.
In today’s edition, The Washington Post has a lengthy piece about Hillary Clinton’s eclipsing Obama in popularity, citing among things a Quinnipiac University poll in Ohio—the swing state on which Republican fortunes almost wholly depend in 2016—in which voters polled rated Obama an abysmal 36-59 percent job approval rating while giving Clinton a much more robust 52-43 approval, and backing Clinton by substantial margins against any and all GOP challengers. The Post also notes, with some glee, that Wall Street loves Clinton:
Some of the groups who have felt alienated by the Obama presidency are being won round by Clinton. Take Wall Street, always one of the president’s most complicated relationships. Although Wall Street financiers raised over $12 million during Obama’s last campaign, few financiers appear to have much love for the president. It was his administration that pushed the Dodd-Frank banking reforms into law, and Obama said recently that “further reforms” are required. As one banker put it to CNN Money: “There’s been so much finger pointing. He’s made it seem bad to be successful and to be millionaires and billionaires.”
More interestingly, the Post notes that Clinton didn’t miss an opportunity to slam Obama’s handling of foreign policy during an appearance on CNN on Sunday:
On foreign policy, look for Clinton to contrast her more hawkish tendencies with the Obama administration’s approach. During an interview on CNN on Sunday, Clinton appeared to criticize the Obama administration’s interactions with other nations. “How do we try to enlist the rest of the world in this struggle between cooperation and order and conflict and disorder, which is really at the root of so much that’s going on today? And I don’t think we’ve done a very good job of that,” she said. She also noted the popularity of George W. Bush in Africa because of his efforts to battle AIDS there. He made me “proud to be an American again,” Clinton said.
In other words—no surprise, Christie Watch guesses, to readers of The Nation—Clinton is courting Wall Street, bashing Obama’s diplomatic efforts and saying that George W. Bush made her “proud to be an American.” Sounds like there’s a country song in their somewhere.
Unfortunately for the GOP, which insists on attacking Clinton from the right, none of their nonsense (such as Benghazi) is having much effect, and that leaves her lots of running room to run as a candidate more hawkish and more pro –Wall Street than Obama. The Republicans are each finding it difficult to separate themselves from the pack while simultaneously figuring out a way to build the case against Hillary Clinton, as The Hill’s Campaign Blog notes in “The GOP’s 2016 Hillary paradox.”
So, as Joan Walsh points out in Salon:
Promising GOP governors—McDonnell, Christie, Walker—find themselves dogged by scandal. The Tea Party trio of Paul, Cruz and Rubio still vies for media attention and right wing adoration, but Rubio’s immigration reform work doomed him on the right. Unbelievably, Paul is widely labeled the frontrunner (but don’t tell that to Cruz), while the party establishment and neocon hawks search for an alternative. Despite all that impressive talent, Mitt Romney leads the pack in New Hampshire.