Who Can Beat Hillary?
BY EDWARD KLEIN/ DECEMBER 1, 2015
When they’re not trying to destroy each other on the debate stage or through negative TV ads, each of the Republican presidential hopefuls likes to boast that he or she is the best-qualified candidate to take down Hillary Clinton in 2016.
In fact, it’s the one thing they have in common—they can’t wait to get Hillary on the debate stage.
To refresh your memory, here’s what they’ve said on the subject:
Carly Fiorina: “I’m Hillary Clinton’s worst nightmare.”
Chris Christie: “You need someone who’s going to stand on that stage and prosecute the case against [Hillary] and prosecute it strong—that’s what I’ll do.”
Donald Trump: Debating Hillary “would be one of the easy challenges of my life.”
Dr. Ben Carson: “If Hillary is the candidate… that would be a dream come true.”
Ted Cruz: “Frankly, the key to winning in 2016 is running a populist campaign of hard-working men and women against the bipartisan corruption of Washington, which Hillary embodies.”
Marco Rubio: “I was asked last night something about why should we vote for you and not Hillary Clinton… I’ve been waiting all my life to answer that question.”
Putting the swagger and braggadocio aside, how do each of the Republicans really stack up against Hillary?
Carly Fiorina and Chris Christie could more than hold her/his own against Hillary on the debate stage, but based on their feeble performance in the polls it doesn’t look like either of them is going to get that chance.
Dr. Ben Carson may have a great political bedside manner, but he’s proved time and again that he is fact-challenged, especially when it comes to national security and foreign affairs, which are Hillary’s strong suits.
Donald Trump would turn a debate against Hillary into a Dean Martin-style celebrity roast. But with his abrasive manner, he might be the only candidate in the pack who would make Hillary look likeable—which is no small matter when it comes to winning elections.
That leaves Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, both politically savvy, silver-tongued men in their mid-forties.
Among many Republicans, the conventional wisdom is that the smart-as-a-whip Cruz would be a more effective debater against Hillary than Rubio.
But debates don’t take place in a vacuum, and in 2016 most voters will be less concerned about social issues, such as abortion and gay marriage (Cruz’s strong points) than they will be about terrorism and pocketbook issues (which favor Rubio).
And on the TV screen, Rubio comes across as more likeable than Cruz.
Rubio represents youth; Hillary represents age. Rubio represents generational change; Hillary represents the past. Most important of all, Rubio would siphon off vast swaths of the Hispanic vote, without which no Democrat can win the White House.
So I pick Marco Rubio as the Republican who has the best chance of beating Hillary.
What do you think?
I’d like to hear from you.