Hillary Clinton re-emerges as GOP's reliable boogeyman

Hillary Clinton hasn't hit the campaign trail yet on behalf of Democrats running in 2018, but that isn't stopping Rep...

Posted: Mar 30, 2018 12:39 PM
Updated: Mar 30, 2018 12:39 PM

Hillary Clinton hasn't hit the campaign trail yet on behalf of Democrats running in 2018, but that isn't stopping Republicans from using the former 2016 Democratic presidential nominee as a reliable campaign boogeyman.

In Pennsylvania's special election earlier this month, a super PAC aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan handed out door-hangers that featured Clinton and Nancy Pelosi to attack Democrat Conor Lamb.

And over the past two weeks, Republicans have tried to tie vulnerable Democratic senators to comments Clinton made at a recent event in India that were seen as a knock at more conservative areas of the country, in which she said she "won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward." President Donald Trump, she said, ran a backward-looking campaign.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has cut digital ads featuring Clinton's comments that target 10 Democratic senators running for reelection in states Trump won in 2016. The Republican challenger to one of those Democrats, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, has also released digital ads tying McCaskill to Clinton and her comments.

Clinton later explained in a Facebook post that she "meant no disrespect to any individual or group," but the political distancing and downright rebuking of her comments from red state Democrats came swiftly.

"It wasn't helpful. I thought it was wrong how she put it," McCaskill told MSNBC in an interview last weekend.

"For those of us that are in states that Trump won," McCaskill added, "we would really appreciate if she would be more careful and show respect to every American voter and not just the ones who voted for her."

When asked in a radio interview when she thought Clinton would exit the political landscape, North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp said, "Not soon enough."

Democrats, especially those running in tough races in areas of the US that Trump won, aren't necessarily eager to have Clinton as a surrogate.

Sen. Bill Nelson from Florida, in an exchange with the Tampa Bay Times this week, declined to answer whether he would campaign with Clinton as he seeks re-election this year.

"Obviously when she was a candidate, I campaigned with her. That's like you asking me would I campaign with Robert Redford. ... We'll take that up when we get there," he said.

One Democratic strategist working on a competitive 2018 Senate race said he'd rather have Trump visit the state for his candidate's Republican opponent than Clinton visit to support his candidate.

The strategist's thinking: Clinton has never been a major draw at public events, so there's limited upside. Trump, though, has embarrassed those he's campaigned with -- particularly Alabama Republican Luther Strange -- by veering far off-topic and seemingly all but forgetting that the candidate is also on stage. Local coverage of a bombastic and unpopular President and footage of the two sharing the stage could actually help a Democratic candidate, this strategist argued.

Even in the 23 Republican-held House seats that Clinton won in 2016, where she would arguably the most helpful, several other Democratic strategists said she's not the most in-demand Democratic surrogate. Candidates, those strategists said, first ask for the Obamas -- Michelle, and then Barack.

And former Vice President Joe Biden has effectively replaced Bill Clinton in the role of a Democrat who can campaign effectively in deep-red regions such as Alabama, where he boosted Doug Jones in December's Senate special election, and Pennsylvania, where he backed Lamb.

Clinton hasn't yet scheduled any appearances for individual candidates in 2018. She'll wait until closer to this summer to wade through the requests for appearances and fundraisers from candidates and Democratic groups, spokesman Nick Merrill said.

Rather than play the role of campaign surrogate, aides say Clinton has carved out a position as a seed investor and strategic adviser of the anti-Trump resistance.

On the advice of Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor and Democratic National Committee chairman, she launched Onward Together, an organization with non-profit and political action committee arms, as the hub of her post-election activity.

It's designed to serve as an accelerator of sorts, injecting money and expertise into the new progressive groups that have proliferated since Trump's election while also signaling to major donors that those groups have Clinton's stamp of approval.

Former campaign staffers Emmy Ruiz, Adam Parkhomenko and Nick Merrill are involved in the effort, as well as Dean and Clinton herself.

In 2017, the group injected about $1 million into groups like Swing Left and Run for Something, all launched since Trump's election.

Clinton also made those staffers available as consultants for the organizations she backed.

That, Merrill said, means anything from assisting with digital efforts to op-eds and fundraising.

The main political event now on Clinton's calendar, Merrill said, is a late-April gathering in New York of the Democratic groups that her political organization is backing. It's being planned as days' worth of working groups and introductions to donors, with Clinton playing a central role.

Those progressive groups credit Clinton's organization with helping them through their fraught early months.

"They've been amazing. We wouldn't have made it through the first year without their help," said Amanda Litman, the former Clinton campaign email director who became the co-founder of Run for Something, which helps young Democrats to run for office for the first time.

She said a six-figure contribution from Clinton's Onward Together came with no strings attached last year, allowing the group to quickly spend a "huge chunk" of it in Virginia state legislative races, "directly to candidates or funding canvasses or advertising."

The behind-the-scenes maneuverings fit Clinton well, Litman said, particularly because she's aware the 2018 battleground map, especially in the Senate, features competitive races in a number of states where she was trounced in 2016.

"If a candidate or an org thinks something wouldn't be helpful," Litman said, "she's not going to do it just because of her ego or to be able to say 'I helped.' She is not un-self aware about what implications her role has."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 250869

Reported Deaths: 5481
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17010171
Hinds16091318
Harrison13250193
Rankin10629208
Jackson10216182
Lee8759141
Madison8186161
Jones6222109
Forrest5917118
Lauderdale5808180
Lowndes5309111
Lafayette491192
Lamar480465
Washington4770123
Bolivar3955106
Oktibbeha390380
Panola365076
Pontotoc361152
Monroe3521104
Warren344597
Union341458
Marshall339165
Neshoba3357152
Pearl River323295
Leflore2992105
Lincoln295685
Sunflower280469
Tate269560
Alcorn262653
Itawamba261159
Hancock260458
Pike259977
Scott244745
Prentiss244052
Yazoo242654
Tippah239749
Copiah239149
Simpson233967
Leake229564
Coahoma228554
Grenada217070
Covington210471
Marion208371
Adams203270
Winston199464
Wayne198730
George197938
Attala193158
Newton189142
Chickasaw182944
Tishomingo182159
Holmes168167
Jasper167735
Clay158233
Stone141520
Tallahatchie139234
Clarke137460
Calhoun135121
Smith119423
Yalobusha116134
Walthall111736
Noxubee110222
Greene109129
Montgomery109134
Carroll104121
Lawrence102117
Perry100531
Amite96825
Webster91924
Tunica86021
Claiborne85525
Jefferson Davis84025
Humphreys82624
Benton81023
Kemper76620
Quitman6838
Franklin65815
Choctaw60013
Wilkinson58325
Jefferson53419
Sharkey42417
Issaquena1596
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 420681

Reported Deaths: 6119
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson61755921
Mobile30058548
Madison26852186
Tuscaloosa20652266
Montgomery18876305
Shelby18421114
Baldwin16176182
Lee12393101
Morgan12175113
Etowah11687168
Calhoun11078200
Marshall10158107
Houston8556148
Cullman7999105
Limestone796274
Elmore7783101
DeKalb767197
Lauderdale752883
St. Clair7502120
Talladega6145108
Walker5880174
Jackson578841
Colbert529873
Blount529283
Autauga515455
Coffee438156
Dale394381
Franklin365248
Chilton335365
Covington326968
Russell326810
Escambia316142
Dallas302896
Chambers281869
Clarke279633
Tallapoosa2607107
Pike247629
Marion244650
Lawrence242547
Winston225535
Bibb214447
Geneva199535
Marengo197829
Pickens196231
Hale175442
Barbour172336
Butler168458
Fayette167126
Cherokee160030
Henry152721
Monroe145017
Randolph138835
Washington137026
Clay126145
Crenshaw118644
Lamar117519
Cleburne117223
Macon114335
Lowndes109535
Wilcox102621
Bullock98728
Perry96919
Conecuh94220
Sumter88826
Greene75723
Coosa60515
Choctaw51224
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