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.

By | 2015-11-30T23:42:25+00:00 November 30th, 2015|blog, Ed Klein Confidential|47 Comments

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47 Comments

  1. Ken McVay December 1, 2015 at 9:37 am - Reply

    Senator Rubio lacks the needed foreign policy clout, and, to be kind, is at best gullible on illegal immigrants and how to deal with them.

    Rubio is the GOP elite’s choice for a reason – he’s their man. There is only one true constitutional conservative in the race, and that’s Senator Cruz. If the GOP is foolish enough to ignore the fact that the American people are furious with Republicans for their lies and cowardice, the GOP will lose. Again.

  2. Jeri December 1, 2015 at 9:42 am - Reply

    I disagree. I think it would be Ted Cruz. And it should be the one who is going to be the nominee, and I think that will be Ted Cruz also. Rubio lost that privilege when he supported the Gang of Eight and amnesty. He is in bed with the sugar lobby and that is an issue. He has trouble managing his own life and finances and that is an issue. He is an establishment candidate and that is just what the people don’t want. Rubio is a slick talker and he would probably hold his own with Hillary. Cruz, on the other hand, is skilled and knows his facts. At this point, the people aren’t looking for somebody pretty who speaks well. They are looking for somebody to have their back, speak the truth and fight for their values. That is Ted Cruz.

  3. Daniel Smith December 1, 2015 at 9:47 am - Reply

    Rubio is too close to the establishment and smacks of Rhino to many in my circles. Cruz is usually the only adult in the room and hated by both the Republican and Democrat establishments. Perhaps more by the Republicans than the Democrats. His book Time for Truth seems to have been a preemptive strike. We need to return to the Constitution and no one knows it better than Cruz!

  4. Frank de Varona, author December 1, 2015 at 10:07 am - Reply

    I agree completly that Rubio would be the best. This is why I am supporting him. I also like Ted Cruz but Texas will vote Republican. We need to win the battleground state of Florida and having Rubio on the ticket will help a lot.

  5. Victor Bond December 1, 2015 at 10:09 am - Reply

    Any republican is better than Hillary she not only represents the past she represents the worst America has to offer. She is a big C communist who can and will hurt America from within.

  6. Annie December 1, 2015 at 10:14 am - Reply

    i agree with your analysis but fear Rubio is such damaged goods in the eyes of too many to attain that status. I once agreed with Rubio on some kind of pathway to citizenship for a narrow selection of illegal immigrants but as the years have passed & the Hispanics have protested & demanded rights my mind has changed. If you are not an American you have no right to protest or demand anything…hence I go back to the fact that we are a nation of laws & laws must be followed. I say this as someone who loves anything south of our border & especially it’s people. I do not believe in dual citizenship & I want only immigrants that come here to become Americans & who assimilate. I have never met a person with dual citizenship whose first loyalty is to America. It’s a known fact in the Americas that people only hold American citizenship in case their own country fails completely. I say all of this to tell you immigration is my top priority & I will support the candidate who is strongest on shutting down open borders & enforcing our laws. Whomever is strong enough to do this will also take care of ISIS & our economy.

    What is most despicable to me is that the democrats in this nation would get behind Hillary Clinton & fail to even challenge her given her record. Too many takers & uninformed voters in our country today. I would love to see Carly Fiorina debate Hillary!

  7. albert December 1, 2015 at 10:16 am - Reply

    For experience,strength,job done and strait talker and the most important thing he is the authentic anti politicians whom bring this big country to this shameful level we are.I’m sticking all the way
    Like millions and millions voters with Mr TRUMP.He will be the real change we need.

  8. Julia Lockwood December 1, 2015 at 10:30 am - Reply

    I agree with Mr. Klein. Not only is Rubio a top notch candidate he is likeable, knowledgeable and knows the foreign policy area very very well. He is also well spoken. So to be able to take Hillary down I think would be THE GREATEST accomplishment on his resume.

    Julia Lockwood

  9. Dolores Vanden Heuvel December 1, 2015 at 10:36 am - Reply

    I totally agree with favoring Marco Rubio as the candidate to debate Hillary and win. He is totally conversant on all the issues. He is winsome. Here’s hoping….

  10. Lavonya December 1, 2015 at 10:53 am - Reply

    I totally agree with you. Rubio just looks and talks Presidential. He is very smart and
    can speak with clarity much better than our current President.

  11. Peggy Woodard December 1, 2015 at 10:54 am - Reply

    I am in my 70’s and I personally feel it is time for the younger generation to lead this country. In my view a perfect ticket would be Marco Rubio with Ben Carson as VP. Rubio can handle Hillary just fine and he is on top of foreign affairs. Carson would be a great asset in helping to solve and create a better health system that is fair to all Americans, especially, the middle class and self employed business owners. Together they would pull hispanics and blacks away from Hillary. Together with the people they select to be around them, they can bring back the all the good values America used to stand for. If Hillary wins, America as we know it is truly gone. She is for power and money. She truly does not care about helping to lift the poor out of poverty.

  12. Jim Oakley December 1, 2015 at 11:03 am - Reply

    While I see and understand your reasoning I must disagree on Rubio. I think Ted Cruz would be the better debater and that he has the solid foundation to make sound decisions that Rubio seems to lack in my view. Sometimes Rubio looks and sounds like he is “testing the waters” when he makes a comment. I think he is being “presented” hoping we, the voters, will latch onto him. I would find it difficult to vote for him even if he did get the nomination.

    Look at it this way, What did George Bush know about terrorism when 9/11 struck? I’m sure it was no more than any candidate today knows simply by osmosis. Bush did a good job on thwarting future plots against this nation. We cannot elect a President based on ONE ability or talent. We need a President who is well rounded and most of all has the FOUNDATION of wisdom and knowledge from which to draw and build upon.

    None of the candidates exhibit more love, care, and Constitutional concerns for this nation than does Ted Cruz. He has the foundation of love and knowledge to keep America as safe as is possible to do. He also has a thorough knowledge and understanding of the crimes and history of deceptions originating with Hillary Clinton.

    I think Ted Cruz could smash her and come out still looking Presidential and protective. Anyway, that’s how I see the matter. Thanks for the opportunity to share.

    • Edward Klein December 3, 2015 at 10:59 am - Reply

      Dear Jim Oakley,
      Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you but I’ve been swamped with radio and TV interviews. No respect intended and, I hope, none received. Thanks for your thoughtful comments. Many of my readers agree with you about Ted Cruz.

      Edward Klein

  13. Audrey Stefanides December 1, 2015 at 11:35 am - Reply

    I agree with everything you just said. I’ve been trying to figure out who would be the strongest against Hillary. I think we have a lot of good people, but that doesn’t transfer into winning. We just have to win in 2016.

  14. Irene Keating December 1, 2015 at 11:43 am - Reply

    I prefer Ted Cruz for a number of reasons. 1) He was solicitor general for the state of Texas & argued before the Supreme Court. He is a true Constitutional Conservative 2) We know exactly where he stands on immigration 3) He has a much better tax plan then Rubio,

    I believe Marco Rubio is now the designated Republican candidate therefore, he will be beholden to the moderate Republican Party & the lobbyist that come along with it.

  15. Ted D. Hitzler December 1, 2015 at 11:47 am - Reply

    How about Marco as Pres. and Ted as VP

  16. Frank C December 1, 2015 at 11:57 am - Reply

    I agree Ed. Either 3…. Christie, Fiorina or Rubio could take her on.

    Do you think FBI Director Comey can be fair and unbiased with her emails ? Not Benghazi, but the classified ones and law breaking.
    Thanks

  17. Paul pessia December 1, 2015 at 12:35 pm - Reply

    I tend to agree on Rubio. He would be gentlemanly, well informed and nonabrasive not allowing Hillary to hide behind “the I’m a woman” he’s picking on me,B.S.the Liberals love. His youth will have great appeal and his knowledge of foreign policy along with a hawkish stance on terrorism will keep her on the defensive. Latinos and other minorities may pay attention and find out that ‘Free Stuff’ has a price. If the stakes weren’t so high I’d love to see Trump change that smarmy look on her face. You know he’d bring up Bill’s “away games” as she sat by not wanting to make waves,because of her lust for power. Let’s hope Rubio can carry the ball and bring home the prize…..’Fearless’

  18. Suzanne Wells December 1, 2015 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    Looks like you have made up your mind
    Rubio can be bought
    My money is on Trump/ Cruz
    Hillary has been bought sometime ago –
    I remember

  19. Charles Stanley December 1, 2015 at 12:51 pm - Reply

    Ed, I agree with your ideas 100%. I like some of the things Trump says,but he is a walking disaster for the Republicans. I actually like Fiorina and Christie,but like you said,their poll numbers are not good.. Trump looks like he may opt out and run as an independent. Two things will happen if he does this move. Hillary will walk into the White House because he splits the vote or his supporters stay out of the race,. He is proving to be a human gaffe machine. He is much worse than Biden,and that is saying something. How are the Republicans going to get him out of the race! he has become an big problem for the Republicans!

  20. Dorothy B Leamon December 1, 2015 at 1:11 pm - Reply

    I like the idea of Trump making Hillary, as roasting her. He could make the roast as how corrupt she is and the laughing stock of the American people.
    This would have to be done in a very careful and soft manner to show he is not abusive to women, as the liberal media like to hang a tag on him.

  21. Bill Sheerin December 1, 2015 at 1:38 pm - Reply

    I agree that Rubio would do best against Hillary, and I know that at least one national poll confirmed that. Rubio and Cruz are both great debaters, but Cruz often comes off as obnoxious and sneering (his whiny, nasal voice contributes to that impression). While they are similar in age, Rubio looks younger than Cruz (perhaps too much younger, some would say) and could play the “generational change” card better than Cruz. Cruz is also more strident, more ideological, and more extreme in his views (and he focuses a great deal on social issues where the Democrats have an advantage (especially with younger voters and women. Increasingly, it appears that terrorism and foreign affairs will become major issues in the general election, issues where Rubio is best. I would like to see a Rubio-Fiorina ticket. Both are great debaters and both would very possibly peel off some of the Hispanic and women voters on whom the Democrats depend.

  22. Russell Gauthier December 1, 2015 at 1:48 pm - Reply

    Your comments and analysis are very insightful and “sound” convincing from a factual standpoint. All the points you make about Rubio can also be attributed with Cruz. I am not convinced that the strong points you describe of Cruz are his main strengths. I particularly like Cruz on terrorism and the economy as well. I put them (Cruz and Rubio) in a virtual tie. The question is what will the fragmented voting public wants, a real leader or someone they “like”. In a close race, I think Cruz will be selected as the one who can stand up best against the onslaught of the Dem party and the media.

  23. David L. Woods December 1, 2015 at 1:58 pm - Reply

    How about Ttump for president, Rubio for VP, & Cruz forSecretary of State?

    Trump has timely leadership, confidence , & experience skills.

  24. Bill December 1, 2015 at 2:02 pm - Reply

    Hello Mr. Klein,

    It has come to the attention of many conservatives that the establishment GOP does not want The Donald to win, or even have the chance to win. He represents a change our country dearly needs. Someone, the only one, who is not in the pocket of special interest. Although I value your opinion, I believe you are just another arm of the establishment GOP. I hope you’re wrong about Rubio, who is pro immigration and would keep the flood gates open to terrorists.

    Thanks,
    Bill

  25. D Heilman December 1, 2015 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    I hope you are right!

  26. James A. Nollet December 1, 2015 at 2:12 pm - Reply

    Dear Mr. Klein:

    I agreed in part and disagreed in part.

    Rubio indeed contrasts very well against Hillary. But Cruz also is pretty young. And he at least has a Latino surname as well. And, he is — to use a possible unfortunate combination of words — a master debater.

    If Trump ever could get Hillary on a debate stage, he would DESTROY her.

    I think any of the three — Rubio, Cruz, Trump — would do well against Hillary.

    James A. Nollet

  27. James A. Nollet December 1, 2015 at 2:14 pm - Reply

    Dear Mr. Klein:

    I agreed in part and disagreed in part.

    Rubio indeed contrasts very well against Hillary. But Cruz also is pretty young. And he at least has a Latino surname as well. And, he a master when it comes to debating.

    If Trump ever could get Hillary on a debate stage, he would DESTROY her.

    I think any of the three — Rubio, Cruz, Trump — would do well against Hillary.

    James A. Nollet

  28. Romkey December 1, 2015 at 2:17 pm - Reply

    Completely agree. No guarantee that’s how it would turn out, but excellent handicapping.

  29. Anna Seider December 1, 2015 at 3:09 pm - Reply

    I believe Donald has best chance. He has been lining up his ducks and knows enough to act appropriately for the occasion. I believe you are underestimating his prowess and prescience.

    Donald has continually defied the norm and prospered but then we have grown accustomed to a very dysfunctional norm.

    Dr Anna Seider

  30. Jack Burnette December 1, 2015 at 4:14 pm - Reply

    I tend to agree with you Ed. In fact, I read somewhere that Bill Clinton said that Marco Rubio would be Hillary’s strongest opponent. I would love to read your new book, but can’t afford it right now.
    God bless you Sir!!

  31. Peter Mulcahy December 1, 2015 at 4:45 pm - Reply

    Ed

    Here’s my prediction. The Obama’s detest both the Clintons with an unriviled passion. The FBI Director, Jim Comey is a straight shooter who won’t compromise his principals for political expediency. Comey will recommend inditement to the DOJ and Obama will not interfer with the Clinton prosecution.

    Joe Biden will then step in and declare and walk away with the nomination without having spent ANY money campaigning and pleanty of name recognition. Will Biden be victorious in the general election? I doubt it but at least Omama will have his revenge on the Clintons.

  32. Ray Baliatico December 1, 2015 at 4:45 pm - Reply

    Absolutely agree I have read most of your books

  33. ROBERT HENDERSON December 1, 2015 at 5:56 pm - Reply

    I agree WITH YOU

  34. Steve Scully December 1, 2015 at 8:40 pm - Reply

    Worried about Rubios Sugar Daddies…..put me down for Cruz. If we go to second ballot in Cleveland I break for Mitt

  35. Brian December 1, 2015 at 8:55 pm - Reply

    I still think that Cruz is the strongest candidate. Watching him dismantle the “perky’ Katie Courac in a Yahoo News interview (debate) was watching a master debater at work. He constructs his arguments carefully, presents them clearly and understandably and isn’t tainted with the stain of an “Immigration Reform” sellout, as is Rubio. And you just know that the Clinton camp will bring that up should Rubio get the nod. Cruz has been the model of consistency and is also a strong and vocal 2’nd Amendment supporter. That’s a much bigger issue than most of the Potomac crowd believe.

  36. Marcia Landino December 1, 2015 at 10:08 pm - Reply

    We don’t need another boy as president. We need a leader who isn’t afraid to go mano to mano against Hillary and Trump is the only one to do it. So sick of the professional journalists/media/politicans who continue to promote the same crap and want the same type of people running the country….stop it.

  37. Rob Miller December 1, 2015 at 10:42 pm - Reply

    Marco Rubio is Cuban. He would NOT siphon off the votes of most Mexicans and Central Americans. Also, given the likelihood of voter fraud in states with lots of illegals like California, Cruz or Trump would be more likely to get some of the Hispanic vote because the ones her legally are starting to understand that open borders means lower pay, higher unemployment, poorer schools, higher rents and more competition for affordable housing for them.

    What Hillary absolutely has to have is a huge black turnout,which is what the Soros-funded #blacklivesmatter movement is all about. The only two GOP candidates likely to attract black voters are Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee, and Huckabee isn’t going to get the nomination..

    Another factor is that many conservatives see Rubio as untrustworthy because he’s for amnesty and continued H1B visa abuse. They will sit home if he’s the nominee. Cruz and Trump are the best bets.

  38. David December 2, 2015 at 12:02 am - Reply

    I agree that both Cruz and Rubio would demolish Hillary in a one-on-one debate, but I disagree with your final assessment. Since both of them are 44-years of age, I’m not sure how Rubio would be more “youthful.” Though Rubio would “siphon off vast swaths of the Hispanic vote,” I remind you that Cruz is of Cuban descent. Further, Rubio is a “junior Senator” and has vacillated on amnesty, Cruz has been consistent on his positions and outspoken of progressive lawlessness and insanity.

    The main issues in facing the candidates in 2016 are jobs, the economy, immigration, and security, none of which is a strong point for Hillary. Both conservatives would be effective in these areas, however, Rubio’s “Gang of Eight” to push comprehensive reform gives me pause.

    I’m with the Cruz Missile and at the moment (see latest Quinnipiac poll), so are the voters.

  39. Robert Ulzheimer December 2, 2015 at 12:37 am - Reply

    There is only one candidate who is willing to FFFF ISIS. FFFF = Find, Fix, Fight, FINISH (emphasis on Finish)
    That is Lindsey Graham.
    FYI: Special Forces, Seals, Special Ops do not do combat to sieze and hold terrain; they conduct “Special Missions”.
    A no fly zone will win nothing.

  40. Steve D December 2, 2015 at 9:47 am - Reply

    I think they would all beat Hillary with the exception of Trump since he’s not a ‘real’ Democrat like she is.

  41. Suzanne Wells December 2, 2015 at 10:55 am - Reply

    Rubio ?? Really ?? He can be bought !!
    Trump will not be bought Trump/ Cruz best choice
    Or it will be the same old same old
    Get your head out of the sand

  42. George December 2, 2015 at 3:00 pm - Reply

    Trump maybeyes a roast of Billary. But he is tge only Rep. Candidate to destroy her.

  43. George December 2, 2015 at 3:02 pm - Reply

    Trump may be yes a roast of Billary. But he is the only Rep. Candidate to destroy her.
    Sorry for previous typos.
    1we need Trump s ececutive experience, guts, insights to problems.

  44. Caridad Sala December 2, 2015 at 5:10 pm - Reply

    I agree that Sen. Rubio would be the best Candidate to beat Hillary Clinton, but my first choice was a Scott Walker/Marco Rubio ticket, specially for the General Election. With Scott´s experience as Governor and Rubio´s foreign affairs´savy plus likability, it would be a great ticket, don´t you think?

    Carin Sala

  45. […] Stop Cruz, Fates of Trump and Rubio Are Now Intertwined: Erick EricksonWho Can Beat Hillary?: Edward KleinIs Hillary Manipulating the Investigation Into Her Email Server?: […]

  46. Peter Mulcahy December 9, 2015 at 10:38 pm - Reply

    Jim Comey is going to beat her hands down.

    Obama hates the Clintons so bad he will not stop DOJ from prosecuting her.

    Biden will step in at last minute without having spent a dime, without having debated his fellow Dems and with pleanty of name recognition.

    Now it’s a toss up in the general election given the large amount of low information voters who vote Democratic.

    Gog help us all !

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