Who Can Beat Hillary?

BY EDWARD KLEIN/NOVEMBER 10, 2015

Among the current crop of Republican presidential candidates, which one has the best chance of beating Hillary Clinton?

I have a special way of answering that question. I don’t depend on political gurus, veterans of past campaigns, TV panels, or opinion polls.

For instance, I paid only a passing interest in the latest Quinnipiac poll, which concludes that “Clinton gets crushed on character issues, pounded by [Ben] Carson and closely challenged by Sen. Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio.” In face-to-face matchups by the Quinnipiac pollsters, Hillary loses to Carson 50-40, to Rubio 46 to 41, and to Cruz 46 to 41.

But opinion polls provide only a fleeting glimpse of where things stand at a particular moment in time. They are not predictive of where the American electorate will be months from now, on the eve of the presidential election.

And so, when I’m asked who would give Hillary the biggest run for her money, I skip the gurus and the polls and refer to a much higher authority—the man Charlie Rose describes as “the best political animal that’s ever been in American politics.”

I am, of course, referring to Bill Clinton.

At the beginning of the presidential season, Clinton hoped that the Republicans would nominate Scott Walker, the combative governor of Wisconsin, who challenged and beat the public service unions in his state. Bill predicted that Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO, would spend hundreds of millions of dollars and mobilize a vast army of volunteers to assure a Hillary victory.

After Walker dropped out of the race, it looked to Bill as though Jeb Bush would pose the greatest threat.  But Bush has evaporated as a danger along with his poll numbers.

The Republican who worries Bill the most is Marco Rubio. As I reported in Unlikeable: The Problem With Hillary, this is the way Bill sums up Rubio:

“He’s young, Hispanic, and a good speaker. He’d pose a generational challenge [to Hillary, who will turn 69 in 2016] and a challenge for the Hispanic vote, which we need to win…. We’ve got to destroy him before he gets off the ground.”