Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Challenges facing Hillary Clinton for President

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Since Hillary Clinton’s visit to Montreal on March 18, Montrealers are convinced that we were in the presence of the next President of the United States. She was her usual, poised self, inspiring with her thoughts, and reassuring with her experience and knowledge. Most polls that make it to Canadian media indicate strong support for Hillary against all potential Republican challengers. So, what can stop her from becoming the first female President of the United States?

For one thing, it is likely that she will face a heavily funded Republican Party and also endure a barrage of attacks ranging from the scandals associated with Bill Clinton’s presidency to the events in Benghazi. Considering the criticisms by more hawkish GOP members like Senator John McCain on Obama’s foreign policies, it will not be long before Hillary’s tenure as Secretary of State is associated with such criticisms.

It is clear that the Republicans expect to win both Houses in the 2014 midterm elections, leaving the 2016 victory over the White House as their next target. While factions such as the Tea Party and Libertarians get most of the media’s attention, it is likely that the GOP is already planning to support a more moderate standard bearer to challenge Mrs. Clinton in 2016. With New Jersey Governor Chris Christie embroiled in the Bridgegate scandal, the name of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is already beginning to surface.

The Republican brand has taken a beating in recent years—the Bush Presidency ended poorly and the party seems out of the mainstream on issues such as gay marriage, abortion and immigration reform—and was also decisively beaten by Obama in 2008 and 2012. However, in recent months Republicans in congress have reached deals with their Democratic colleagues and compromised on a budget to avoid another government shutdown. This illustrates a willingness to adopt more moderate positions, which can only help the Republican presidential nominee of 2016.

Another challenge, which ultimately may be the most formidable, may very well be the “coronation” factor favoring Clinton. There are few potential Democratic contenders who can mount a real contest against Secretary Clinton. Vice President Joe Biden is often mentioned as a potential challenger, but the odds are against him. So Mrs. Clinton could very well be an unchallenged nominee nearly two years before the next presidential campaign, hardly ideal for front page news coverage.

So while my Canadian friends see Mrs. Clinton as nearly unbeatable, it is important to consider that she will become a target for considerable Republican criticism, while possibly facing a mainstream Republican nominee with a more moderate message, and trying to maintain the public’s interests as President Obama completes his term in office. And we all know that American politics are not for the faint at heart. Yes 2016 is a long way off, even for Hillary Clinton.


John Parisella is the former Québec delegate general in New York and currently a visiting professor at the University of Montréal’s International Relations Center. He is also a Member of the Board of Directors of The Montreal Council on Foreign Relations.

Tags: 2016 Presidential Elections, Hillary Clinton
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