Author Jonathan Allen: Hillary Faces 3 Big Obstacles If She Runs

Wednesday, 19 Feb 2014 04:13 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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Benghazi is one of three major issues Hillary Clinton will face if she runs for president in 2016, says Jonathan Allen, co-author of "HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton."

"Number one, of course, [is] Benghazi. She's going to make the case that she's got experience in national security, which she does, but that's something that Republicans are going to use to undermine that sort of area of her campaign, should she run," Allen told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

"We talked to Sean Spicer, the spokesman for the Republican National Committee. He said those ads you've seen on Benghazi in the past, if she runs, she should get used to seeing them a lot," he said Wednesday.

Second, Allen said, is that Clinton did not negotiate a major peace deal as secretary of state.

"The inability to have that sort of crown jewel is something that you're going to hear a lot about as she uses her time in State to try to make that national security and foreign policy experience argument," he said.

Third, Allen said, is the way Clinton stayed aloof on the healthcare issue when President Barack Obama was trying to sell the bill to the public.

"She remained completely apart from it, she didn’t' want to be toxic, she had been there in '93, '94, trying to do healthcare," he said.

Story continues below video.



Allen, who is chief White House correspondent for Bloomberg, says Clinton wanted to seem as non-partisan and apolitical as she could as secretary of state.

"But the truth is, as we reveal in the book: she talks to members of Congress about their vote, she was back-channeling with Rahm Emanuel and Jim Messina, two of Obama's top aides, about how to deal with Congress and her experience during the Clinton administration," Allen said.

"We go inside one particularly important Cabinet meeting after what you might call the tea party summer in 2009. A lot of the Democrats were worried that other agenda items were going to get subsumed into that sort of maelstrom and they were going to lose out of the things they cared about.

"[Clinton] made an impassioned plea to the rest of the Cabinet to get focused on healthcare, and Obama's aides had told us that that may have been an under appreciated moment in terms of the sort of larger Democratic Party, but definitely a pivotal one."

Allen said one strategy Republicans are likely to stay away from is Bill Clinton's sex scandals, which Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky recently stirred up to mixed reviews.

"I would say that there are a lot of Republicans who are concerned that the last time there was a huge focus on Bill Clinton's escapades . . . it backfired," Allen said.

"If you look at it, Bill Clinton's approval ratings went up, Hillary Clinton's approval ratings went up, the Democrats captured a seat in the House in the midterm in the second term of the presidency, which is extremely unusual. So, there's a strategic element to that."

He said Rand Paul, by resurrecting the Bill Clinton scandals, is attempting to talk to younger voters, some of whom do not remember Monica Lewinsky.

Allen said that while he understands Paul's reasons for bringing up the past, he also understands the view of Christopher Ruddy, Newsmax CEO and editor of Newsmax Media, who disapproves of the strategy.

"Sen. Rand Paul was fast becoming the GOP contender of the future — until he resurrected the Monica Lewinsky issue in a series of recent interviews," Ruddy wrote in a column on Newsmax.com on Wednesday. "It's a real mistake for Paul's rising political future and a strategic blunder for the GOP."

"[I] understand the argument that [Ruddy], that [Republican political consultant and policy advisor] Karl Rove and others within the party have made that this may not be a winning strategy," Allen said.

Allen said he thinks Clinton will be throwing her hat into the ring, as is widely expected.

"She's been running all along . . . The Clinton operation grew while she was in the State Department, how she used that platform to continue to build relationships with the business community, to build the relationships with donors, with other politicians," Allen said.

"Also . . . Bill Clinton went out on the campaign trail [to] take care of family business and settle some scores."

Allen said one of the big questions if Hillary Clinton runs will be what role Bill Clinton will play in her campaign as well as what he would do if she is elected.

"How does it work with a former president roaming the halls of the East Wing of the White House?" he said.

"They made the argument about a co-presidency back in 1992. It didn't stop them from winning the White House, but obviously the reaction to her when she, as first lady, took on a major policy initiative on healthcare was negative not just from Republicans, but she ran into a lot of resistance from Democrats on Capitol Hill.

"There was a lot of complications there, and it's certainly something that she'll be forced to map out for the public if she's, in fact, a candidate."

Anderson's book, co-written with Amie Parnes, White House correspondent for The Hill, is published by Crown.


See "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV each weekday live by clicking here now.



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