Hillary Clinton Leads the Pack Now, Prof. Ken Bode Writes, But She Carries Lots of "Baggage"
July 29, 2005
July 29, 2005, Greencastle, Ind. - "Former Sen. Bob Kerrey has dubbed Hillary the 'rock star' of the Democratic Party," notes Ken Bode in today's Indianapolis Star. The Eugene S. Pulliam Distinguished Professor of Journalism at DePauw University examines the apparent presidential aspirations of Hillary Rodham Clinton in an op-ed column. "In Columbus, the audience mobbed Mrs. Clinton" at an appearance while the other potential Democratic presidential contenders "looked on," Bode writes. "In this celebrity era, she has joined the one-namers Liberace, Pele, Cher, Bono, Newt, Madonna, Monica (whoops)."
Some argue that Senator Clinton is a lightning rod for conservatives and would face a difficult challenge winning election, Dr. Bode, former senior political analyst at CNN, notes. "Considered more liberal than her husband, Hillary is engineering a makeover. Sen. Clinton positions herself in the party's mainstream, in the middle of the Democratic caucus. On abortion, for example, which she terms 'a sad and tragic act,' she calls on her co-religionists 'to seek common ground with the other side.' On the party's always-delicate issue of being soft on national security, she voted with Bush on Iraq and still supports the war, though now more critically."
Given her current front-runner status, Bode asserts, "Hillary may find it no easier to sustain a three-year frontrunnership than did Gary Hart (1988) or Edmund Muskie (1972). Hart imploded when his extra-marital liaisons with Donna Rice came to light. Muskie's hammerlock seemed even more solid than Hillary's now, but once opponents got going, his front-runner balloon leaked and leaked until it simply collapsed. Hillary's challenge is similar to what Howard Dean faced when he was temporarily the rock star front-runner in the 2004 contest. Primary voters in the early states sensed that something about Dean would not wear well in a general election campaign, that they might be nominating a certain loser. Even before the famous Dean Scream, fear of buyer's remorse set in. He dropped from first to third in Iowa and eventually left the race."
The professor concludes, "As strong as she is with her base among Democratic loyalists, Hillary remains the most deeply polarizing figure in American politics. With all the scandals of the Clinton administration available for GOP conjuring, Hillary carries more baggage than any front-runner in recent memory, and like Dean, she carries the distinct whiff of a sure loser. After Al Gore and John Kerry, Democrats may want to avoid that risk."
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