Republicans must produce a formidable candidate to take on Hillary Clinton should she run for president — or face losing the White House again, conservative Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin says.
Rubin told Westchester County Executive and New York gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino, who was guest host on "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV
Friday, that the former secretary of state has a "celebrity status'' that may be hard to beat.
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"The good news … is we're going to hell in a hand basket. The president's ratings are sinking really horrendously, and the foreign policy of [Clinton] and her successor and her boss is widely perceived … as a complete bust and very, very dangerous,'' Rubin said.
"So there is a chance that we may have a more serious election than perhaps the one we did in 2008, that celebrity status won't mean everything.
"But by the same token, Republicans should be very much aware that you can't beat something with nothing, and we're going to have to have somebody who's a quality candidate.''
The definition of a "quality candidate?"
Someone who "can relate to ordinary people on a very basic, very emotional level,'' Rubin, author the Post's "Right Turn'' blog, told Astorino.
"We can have the smartest guy in the world, best debater in the world, the most ideological pure guy in the world, but unless he can or she can in some way relate to people, perhaps maybe even in a more intimate, more effective way than Hillary Clinton, we could absolutely lose the White House once again.''
Rubin said she has not been impressed with Clinton's performance during the promotional tour for her new memoir, "Hard Choices,"
published by Simon & Schuster.
"She has been so awful, so horrendous in this book tour that even the mainstream media is going after her,'' Rubin said.
"She has a great reputation, and there is a certain age of women, there's a certain ilk of women, who think she's great, who identify with her or liked her when she was first lady … and they're very devoted.
"But truth be told, she's a woman of very poor political skills and in comparison to her husband it's like night and day and that is coming out. She is not adept on her feet, she is prone to get rattled and defensive and a little bit nasty when she's challenged.''
Rubin believes Clinton has the democratic nomination wrapped up if she wants it because there "really isn't anybody else on the Democratic side.''
"There's such a drop in candidate quality and preparation between Hillary and whoever else would come next that there's a good argument for just keeping her because they have nobody else,'' she said.
Rubin does believe the GOP has some good potential candidates to take on Clinton.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush "is a very strong candidate; maybe stronger than some people think,'' she said.
"He's a guy who's very comfortable in his own skin, who can be very charming one on one, but can also light up a room. So he is a strong candidate.''
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is also high on the list, Rubin said.
"He was a great, great congressman from Indiana; he's now governor. He's sort of a complete package. He's a devoted person in terms of faith and family and the life issue but the same time he's wonderful on foreign policy, very tough,'' she said.
"And he's been a very good steward of that state's economy and their fiscal situation. So someone like that, who's well-spoken, definitely charismatic, well-liked by all factions of the Republican Party, I could absolutely see rising to the occasion.''
Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who was Mitt Romney's running mate in 2012, is another potential player.
"He's intentionally done a pretty good job of keeping his name out of the headlines, but if some of these higher caliber candidates for whatever reason decide not to run, there may be in fact a party that turns to him only because he's a known quality,'' Rubin said.
"They know he's ethical, they know he's a decent person, they know he's a conservative, and he certainly has experience."
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