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Saturday, February 23, 2019

Amid a presidential field so large you’d need 10 fingers, 10 toes, and an extra hand or foot to count them, two contenders stand out as most improved. Hillary Clinton and Rick Perry are better candidates now than they were in their first tries for national office.

Unfortunately for them, their paths to the Oval Office are much more complicated now than they would have been, in 2008 for Clinton or 2012 for Perry. They squandered their best opportunities in those earlier races, and now have much steeper hills to climb.

Clinton’s challenges are in part a function of timing. It will be harder for a Democrat to win after two terms of a Democratic president than it would have been after two terms of Republican George W. Bush. But her most serious problems are self-inflicted, stemming from her secretive email system as Secretary of State and the intertwining of her work and donations to the Clinton Foundation.

The ethics questions are a clear threat. New Quinnipiac University polling finds Clinton in a perilous position in the crucial general-election swing states of Colorado, Iowa, and Virginia. “She has lost ground in the horserace and on key questions about her honesty and leadership,” assistant poll director Peter Brown said Wednesday in an analysis of the findings.

Clinton is viewed negatively in all three states and her “trustworthy” numbers are even further under water. Not surprisingly, she trails in hypothetical matchups with Republicans Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, and Scott Walker in all three states.

The irony for Clinton is that she has hit her stride on the campaign trail.

I was not the only political reporter who foresaw her fade after seeing her grapple with her vote for the Iraq War and listening to her at a major party dinner in 2007 in Des Moines, Iowa. She vowed repeatedly to “fight” and engaged in a cliché call-and-response refrain of “turn up the heat” (as in, “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”). Barack Obama, who had opposed the war from the outset, gave a watershed speech at that dinner in which he said the country was at a defining moment and voters would have to decide, “What’s next for America?”

Now, with a nearly unshakable grip on the 2016 nomination, Clinton is talking about people and issues that matter to her — her mother, her granddaughter, voting rights, immigration, race, wages, and inequality. She’s also cracking jokes that are actually funny — many of them about herself, her hair, and her age. “Finally a candidate whose hair gets more attention than mine,” she recently said of Donald Trump.

Obviously, the Quinnipiac polls are one set of polls at one moment in time, and even the best-known Republicans have yet to experience the full meat-grinder effect of a national campaign. But it does seem as though Clinton may finally have solved the likability conundrum at a moment when other troubles are catching up with her.

Perry, the former Texas governor, was still in office when he ran in 2012. But he ran in full Tea Party mode as a flamboyant outsider — attacking Washington in a book called Fed Up, flirting with the secession movement, calling Social Security a “Ponzi scheme” and declaring then-Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke’s monetary policy “treasonous.” He even defended U.S. Marines who in a video appeared to be urinating on dead Taliban fighters. Teenagers make “stupid mistakes,” Perry said on CNN.

And then of course there was his “oops” moment, when in the midst of a nationally televised debate he could only remember two of the three federal agencies he wanted to eliminate.

This year, Perry is better prepared and has taken on a different role as one of the adults in the room. At the National Press Club, he made strong arguments for why Republicans should go after the minority vote and why his policies in Texas have worked better than liberal policies for people at the lower end of the income scale. He has emphasized his veteran status — he was an Air Force pilot — and has emerged as the most forceful critic of Donald Trump in the GOP field. He was the first to call Trump unfit for the presidency and days ago he called for him to withdraw from the race.

The GOP field, however, is much larger and stronger than it was in 2012 and Perry, 65, is no longer seen as a top-tier candidate. He could still break out in a debate, assuming his polling is strong enough to get him onstage. But it won’t be easy to convince Republican voters he would be a better bet than Bush or the two next-generation hopefuls in their 40s, Rubio and Walker.

Clinton, 67, could still make history as the first female president. But assuming she is the Democratic nominee, she’ll be looking at a battle as tough as the one she lost to Obama in 2008.

Follow Jill Lawrence on Twitter @JillDLawrence. To find out more about Jill Lawrence and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo: iprimages via Flickr

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48 responses to “Too Late For The New, Improved Clinton And Perry?”

  1. Dominick Vila says:

    Regardless of how baseless or cynical the attacks against Hillary Clinton may be, the fact is that her character and trustworthiness have been severely damaged. What was once a guaranteed victory of landslide proportions is now very much in question. In fact, even winning the Democratic party nomination is very much up in the air. It doesn’t matter if others also used private e-mail accounts or commercial servers or not. It doesn’t matter if her handling of the Benghazi tragedy was as effective as could be expected; and it doesn’t matter of the insinuations of wrongdoing dealing with the Clinton Foundation can be proven or not. Successful campaigns are influenced by perceptions, not facts, and the GOP seems to be much more aware of that fact than Hillary is.
    Perry does not have a chance to win the GOP nomination, and neither does Rubio, Cruz, Jindal, Santorum, and most of the current GOP field. The final contenders for the GOP nomination will be Trump, Bush, Walker, and Huckabee. The rest are running for the number 2 spot on the ticket, or a Cabinet post.

  2. John Murchison says:

    The term “squanderered” as in they wasted an opportunity is silly. Clinton and Perry learned a great deal. These are leasons many of their opponents haven’t as yet learned. For Clinton, she has far fewer things barring her way this time around and a Republican party that is its own worse enemy. As for credibility problems, never bet against a Clinton for they will astound you time and time again.

  3. FT66 says:

    I disagree with the writer of this article. The outcome firstly, of the GOP nomination rest in the hands of Trump. He might not be nominated but his presence is going to change the whole equation who will be nominated. Secondly, he will still continue holding a red card, to which party he should show it.This will depend on him whether to decide starting a Third Party or not. Up to now he is the king-maker incase some haven’t realised this.

    • old_blu says:

      I read this morning where he said “if he’s not treated fairly, that starting a third party is very much a possibility”. He isn’t going to think he’s being treated fairly, he doesn’t think he’s being treated fair now. That’s great news for the left.

  4. charleo1 says:

    Ms. Lawrence makes several glaring mistakes here. The most obvious one assumes that after the passing of time Americans have mostly forgotten about the disastrous Bush Adm. Have forgiven the Republican Party for imposing such an unqualified imbecile on the Country. Or, that time has expunged the memory of their treasonous breach of faith in 2011. When the Republicans in Congress conspired to force a weakened economy back in the ditch over the debt ceiling. In the hopes that millions of Americans would be too stupid to see their political lechery. And then. throw out one of the finest men, and Presidents to hold the Office in more than a generation. And by so doing, hand over the Nation’s economy to a former Vulture Capitalists who made his millions by destroying American jobs. Or, to a Congress full of T-Party know nothings, anti-gov. radicals, and general run of the mill, fruit cakes. The likes of which, this Country has never seen, even on it’s darkest day. Especially when it came to their willingness to put ideology before all else, at a time of tremendous challenge. I would also say to the author, that wearing glasses hasn’t improved Rick Perry’s vision as far as anyone can tell. And that changing Parties for change sake, is never in the cards unless both Parties are reasonably sane. That there are never times when Americans, “just feel like having a nut,” for a President. And any problems that Hillary Clinton may, or may not have with American voters with respect to trust. Pales in comparison to the trust Americans have in the Republican Party’s well earned reputation for making sure there’s some kind of nut in every flavor in the box.

    • Louis Allen says:

      Obama Biden (oh God!!) and you dumbass are the “unqualified imbeciles” here.
      I don’t think anybody with your (lack of) brains should be calling anybody “imbecile”.

      • charleo1 says:

        It doesn’t take a lot brains to conclude George W, Bush is an unqualified imbecile. Thus his brother’s campaign logo: “JEB.” In other words. Shhh..! Maybe they won’t notice we’re related!!????

        • idamag says:

          George W. bush, cheney, rummy are all convicted war criminals. They have been convicted, in absentia, in Norway and Malaysia and several other countries have warrants for their arrests if they ever go there. It is too bad Canada told cheney to leave or they would swear out a warrant for his arrest. Bush packed the supreme court with judges who started to dismantle civil rights so those baptists, in the deep south, can reinstate Jim Crow laws and start bombing churches, homes and begin lynching again. Also the bushes supreme court further corrupted government with the citizens united thing. The Supreme court is not supposed to legislate from the bench, but who cares?

    • terry b says:

      Articulate and 100 percent correct. Nice going. Keeps me from adding any more posts. Louis Allen makes you look so good which he does for me to. Thanks

      • charleo1 says:

        Thanks! My biggest problem with the article is it’s false equivalency. To compare the stupefied, and groping Perry of 2012, with Clinton. Who in ’08, nearly defeated the extraordinary campaigner, and orator, Obama, for the nomination, is ludicrous. Perry, the, “new and improved one,” or the old, was never as good on his best day, as Hillary is, on her worst.
        Hillary will most likely win the nomination of her Party, and become the next POTUS. While Rick Perry on the other hand will be out of National politics for good by this Fall. And probably become just another Capitol Hill Lobbyist, shilling for the corporations.

  5. old_blu says:

    I’ve noticed I have softened the way I think about Perry since he moved closer to center, but he still won’t be able to beat Hillary, I sure hope we get more contenders for the left though.
    On a side note Trump was right about Perry looking smarter with glasses.

  6. terry b says:

    Perry’s comparison to Adolph Hitler will never change and I’m sure that he has no desire to squelch his admiration for fascism as does his buddy Scott Walker of Wisconsin Perry will never move closer to the center because of his true ideals collide with those of the center of politics. I predict another Bush v Clinton with once again the good person winning. The GOP will only support candidates that cannot support women’s, minorities and gay rights. It is just too much to ask of them. A Clinton win might finally nudge them back to the center.

    • idamag says:

      My question is: Why would a person who does not want to be a part of the United States of America want to be it’s leader?

      • Louis Allen says:

        Ida dear:
        It is “its leader”, not “it’s leader”.
        Brush up!

      • terry b says:

        People like Perry only love power. Presidents have lots of that. People who have strong fascist beliefs know that power can force those beliefs on others. The GOP leadership follows that path. These people hate democrats because they despise fascism.

        • idamag says:

          I don’t think those, who call themselves Republicans today, realize how fascist some of their leaders are. Even their ideas are not American idealism. It is common, now to be anti-government. Part of that is the actor’s fault when he said the government is the problem. Almost hitler’s words verbatim.

      • Louis Allen says:

        Because our present “leader”, to call him that, absolutely REFUSES to enforce our laws and actually chooses which ones he wants to enforce. Witness his puss attitude towards “sanctuary” cities. You dumbass leftists refuse to see what’s staring at you from a distance of 1/2 inch.

    • Louis Allen says:

      The good person winning??
      You support Bush?!!!

      • terry b says:

        Are you nuts? Bush is simply the lesser of two evils. I have no choice but to vote for a democrat. At least, that is the way intelligent people feel. How about you?

        • Louis Allen says:

          Terry: Methinks “intelligent” people does not include you; your logic is defective: if Bush were, as you say, “the lesser of 2 evils”, you would have to vote for him as opposed to HilLIARy. Now, if what you really meant to say was that HilLIARy was “the lesser of 2 evils”, THEN you would vote for her.
          Got it? Got it? No??!!
          I’ll explain later when I get the patience required to attempt to reason with lunatic, dumbass leftist/liberals….

          • terry b says:

            Nice last sentence. More proof that you do idealize those who are frequently referred to as the retarded right. Bush does not fit in with that crowd but does back many of their fascist beliefs You probably don’t even know why many of their views are considered fascist when you probably agree with them.

          • Louis Allen says:

            I see. I see. Exactly as I expected (but contrary to what I would have preferred), my message about your faulty logic went phewww, right over your head (mind you, I said “head” because if I had said that the message went right over your brain, that would have meant that it actually hit you on your buttocks, my friend!)
            Go over my message again, you dumbass, and try, please try really, really hard, to understand why your “lesser of two evils” statement constitutes a “non-sequitur”, you complete idiot.
            Oh brother.

          • terry b says:

            Thanks for proving to me just how stupid you truly are. Any candidate running for the GOP primary has to make Bush seem as the lesser of two evils. Romney fit that statement against Santorum and Perry and other card carrying members of who are commonly referred to as the retarded right. Are you fans of that crowd? Fool me into believing that you are not! Tough thing to ask of you, isn’t it?

  7. Fred Goss says:

    I don’t understand the reporter’s comparison. Comparing Clinton to Perry makes as much sense as comparing Clinton to Felix the Cat. Clinton will be the Democratic Candidate for president…Perry won’t even come close to winning the GOP primary. Useless article in my opinion, sorry.

  8. Fred Goss says:

    By the way, Perry isn’t an intelligent man. He’s a haircut and a suit. He can barely make it through an interview without gaffing half a dozen times. Hilary Clinton is a very intelligent woman and an incredibly deft politician. She will be the first female President of the United States. Keep spinning folks…this is what is going to happen.

    • jtxl says:

      Besides stupid and greedy, perry also was challenged through the freedom of information act, to make an accounting of the time he spent working on the business of governor- The best he could come up with is that he only worked 7 hours per week and spent the rest of his time brokering deals that lined his pockets. He and his son are part owners of a foreign held toll road which our tax dollars built and are by law required to maintain and there is a dollar guarantee that if the road doesn’t make enough money because people don’t want to use it, We taxpayers have to pay the difference. The laws that perry created to make this possible.

    • idamag says:

      Picture from the past: Rick Perry having an orgasm over a bottle of maple syrup.

  9. Bob Eddy says:

    The writer could have a point — if she had picked something else to write about perhaps, but this looks for all the world, like something Sarah Palin might have written. A lot has been written about the tendency to change the party in the Wife House every eight years, but this has not been true historically (Democrats from Roosevelt to Johnson for example) and recently the election of a Republican has always been under extraordinary circumstances. The Vietnam war ended Johnson’s presidency. The Iran hostage crisis did in Carter. It took the Supreme Court’s ending of the Florida recount to begin the Bush nightmare…I just don’t see right wing pseudo scandals (no matter how many they manage to create) to be a factor. It appears that no one outside the Republican party takes Republicans seriously any more.

    • Louis Allen says:

      Democrats from Roosevelt to Johnson you say? You think Ike was a DemocRat?
      Did you forget that Ike was a 2 term president?
      Review what you post, bumbling bob!!

      • Bob Eddy says:

        Yes, its pretty easy to forget that Ike was a Republican since he was very much non political until drafted by the GOP, and since he embodied absolutely nothing that today’s GOP embraces. I would have to call him the very first RINO! But again. It proves my point. Very specific circumstances, the fact that he was a war hero running at the proper time and that he chose to call himself a Republican.

        • Louis Allen says:

          Yes. And it is also very easy to forget that men of such fortitude and integrity as Truman and JFK were Democrats!!
          P.S. What about real journalists as Walter Cronkite? Today we have to settle for unconditional from the Left as Brian War Hero Williams and George The Incognito Donor Stephanopoulos!!

  10. IntelliWriter says:

    I’m waiting for Perry’s “Clark Kent” moment when he rips off the glasses and pretends he’s Super-Tex–willing to strip women and gays of their rights with the stroke of a pen!

  11. jtxl says:

    sorry but there is no comparison between perry and Clinton. Let’s see- Hillary- extremely intelligent and someone who has always fought to make the world a better place and to stand up for the little guy. Perry- IQ of a grapefruit- just plain stupid, Turned Texas in to a 3rd world status. Absolutely no maintenance on all the roads and infrastructure that democrat Ann Richards built. They are crumbling now. Successfully fought to take away all programs that help low income people. Made millions by stealing peoples prime land for the pipeline only to then (for a profit to himself) by brokering the deal to develop that land. The land that had been passed down for several generations and not realistic as a location for the pipeline which is why it changed after the land grab. When perry and abbot tried to steal the money from the teachers retirement fund laughed while calling teachers peasants and the retired teachers over 80yrs old -Dead Peasants. SHAME SHAME SHAME! there is absolutely no comparison with Hillary Clinton unless you are demonstrating the difference between good and evil.

  12. Eleanore Whitaker says:

    My fondest wish is to be awarded a prize that allows me to shave Pretty Boy Perry’s head. Sadly, men like Perry, JEB, Boehner, McConnell, Cornyn and Inhofe all believe in their own right to rule this country autonomously.

    Yet, the more brazen they and their attack dog gestapos like Issa, Cruz, Rubio, Jindal, Gowdy, Cotton and Bolton…the more they turn Americans off to their tactics.

    Either these men are totally uneducated militants who have axes to grind with anyone who dares disagree with them or they are suck ups to the Koch boys billions. Either way, they won’t see a GOP president for a very long time thanks to their idiot attacks.

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