Howard Kurtz: Popularity Will Drop if Clinton Announces Candidacy

Monday, 19 May 2014 11:12 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Hillary Clinton's polling numbers may be impressive, but there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical and expect that her popularity will drop once she officially announces her presidential plans, Fox News analyst Howard Kurtz says.

"Hillary is not campaigning now (though she is, sort of) and is largely out of the line of fire (speculation about her health notwithstanding)," Kurtz said in an opinion piece for Fox News on Monday. "The moment she gets in the race, she faces a relentless barrage, and her numbers start to drop."

Kurtz, who hosts Fox's "MediaBuzz," said that a new Reuters/Ipsos Poll shows that "most Americans have a favorable view of former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and think she will win the 2016 presidential election."

According to the poll, 57 percent of Americans "who were aware of Clinton" have a favorable opinion, while 43 percent see her negatively. Further, the poll revealed, nearly one-quarter of Republicans have a favorable view of Clinton, suggesting she has some crossover appeal.

Kurtz, though, pointed out that while Clinton was described by poll respondents as being strong, the Benghazi attacks and Clinton's role in their aftermath is the term that stood out most when respondents with an unfavorable view of her were asked to explain why.

"Right now, she can go on 'The View,' and wish Barbara Walters a warm farewell," Kurtz said. "As a candidate, she’d be asked about healthcare and Nigeria and Iran and what she accomplished at the State Department."

And while it's noteworthy that people expect her to win the presidency, two years from now that view will cast her as the incumbent.

Kurtz agreed with Fox's Charles Krauthammer, who told commentator and show host Bill O'Reilly that Democrats "grossly overestimate how popular Hillary is. She may be popular with some of them, she may be popular with a lot of them. But they assume it’s going to apply to the country. I think not."

Clinton will also have difficulty separating herself from the Obama administration, said Kurtz, without shutting out President Barack Obama himself, who hired her as secretary of state.

Kurtz also quoted The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza, who writes that the only person who can keep Clinton from being nominated is "Clinton herself."

"While we — and virtually everyone else in the political world — have begun to take her candidacy as a foregone conclusion, no one in her real inner circle is talking — meaning that she almost certainly hasn't made the final go/no-go decision," said Cillizza, who also questioned Clinton's health.

"But Clinton would be 69 years old on Election Day 2016, and couple her age with that scare in late 2012, and it's hard to imagine Clinton not taking a full accounting of her health before officially deciding to run," Cillizza writes. "Possible that such an accounting leads Clinton to take a pass? Yes. Likely? No."

And with that, Kurtz said, "put me down in the 'Extremely Unlikely' camp. An awful lot of Hillary’s friends have come on board in the belief that she is the candidate-in-waiting."

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