Republicans seeking to taint Hillary Clinton want to tie her to Barack Obama
The President's poll numbers are slumping
And Republicans hope the attack will raise money and excitement
An anti-Clinton super PAC is launching a new effort to link Clinton to Obama
Republicans who want to taint Hillary Clinton are going to lengths to link the former secretary of state with President Barack Obama and his sagging poll numbers.
Throughout the party’s infrastructure, Republicans say that linking Clinton with Obama, especially labeling her possible 2016 campaign as “Obama’s Third Term,” is the most potent attack.
America Rising, an anti-Clinton super PAC that has looked to define the former first lady for the better part of a year, will push out a series of talking points giving Clinton the third-term label, and the group plans to fundraise off the push staring Tuesday.
“Hillary Clinton has a Barack Obama problem,” reads a lengthy research document that will go out to GOP pundits, strategists, conservative organizations and media members Tuesday. “No matter how many of her advisors whisper to reporters that she’s different from Barack Obama, Americans still know who she is: Barack Obama Part Deux.”
The document lists “10 Reasons Why Clinton 2016 = Obama’s Third Term,” including her praise for Obama as she left the State Department in 2013, her role in his first four years of foreign policy and Clinton’s support of Obamacare.
“Looking ahead to 2016, it’s critical that Obama’s 3rd Term is an element of the broader narrative defining Sec. Clinton, especially since she still has a higher approval than he does,” Tim Miller, the group’s director, said in a statement to CNN.
Multiple Republican operatives said this strategy – which is coming from national party groups, outside super PACs and GOP politicians – is best at engaging the base and raising money. Therefore, it is something they plan to continue in the coming months and possibly years.
Democrats, too, are concerned about the attack line. In August, some close to Clinton told CNN that labeling the former secretary of state as the successor to Obama’s legacy was a possible problem.
“She was in his government, she was at his side,” said one source. “That is, the way to go after her is four more years of the same old thing. The question they should ask her is ‘Tell me 10 things that you disagree with him on.’ “
Republican lawmakers – including those who may challenge Clinton in 2016 – have been quick to use some variation of Obama-Clinton in speeches, statements and interviews.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has been the most strident in linking Obama and Clinton, a tactic he first used after the former secretary of state headlined a CNN town hall in June.
“The most consistent error of the Clinton/Obama foreign policy is a failure to understand the nature of the people we’re dealing with, of our enemies,” Cruz said in an interview with CNN after the event.
According to a senior Cruz aide, the attack engages the senator’s base and is something Cruz plans to use again.
“His mindset is it is not just Obama’s failed policies, it is all of them,” the aide said. “We want to draw attention to the fact that she owns this foreign policy and she is not speaking. She is supposed to be the leader, especially on foreign policy, and she is saying nothing. She has a voice, she doesn’t use it.”
Sens. Marco Rubio and Rand Paul, too, have been linking the two. In an op-ed earlier this month, Rubio called for voters to reject the “the veiled isolationism of Obama and Clinton,” and Paul has looked to link the two on issues including terrorism and Syria.
For her part, Clinton has both distanced herself from Obama and drawn closer to him.
In her memoir, “Hard Choices,” Clinton distanced herself from Obama on Syria and did so again in a much-talked-about interview with The Atlantic.
But the former secretary of state has also heralded Obama, like in Iowa this month when she touted his handling of economic issues as getting the country “on the road to recovery.”
This is a common refrain for Clinton. At the Brookings Institution this month, she touted Obama’s “extraordinary leadership,” adding “thanks to the economic policies that were pursued by the President and endorsed by the Congress … we are in a much stronger economic position than we were.”
Whether she will continue this trend of heralding Obama while also distancing herself depends, according to former aides.
Donna Brazile, a CNN contributor and Al Gore’s 2000 campaign manager, said whether or not Clinton needs to break with Obama “all depends on the political climate and environment in mid-2015 to 2016.”
“In 2000, I had to answer this question,” she said. “And the answer is always the same. Each year is different and every candidate must make his or her case to the voter of why they represent someone else.”