Karl Rove got caught up in a media frenzy after his recent suggestion that Hillary Clinton may have suffered brain damage as a result of her 2012 concussion, but his controversial statement did open up a pressing question for Republicans:
What is the best way for the GOP to oppose Clinton, the presumptive 2016 Democratic presidential nominee?
Many Republicans who perceive Clinton’s health and age as major weaknesses and applauded Rove’s “evil genius” in pushing these touchy topics to center stage, were incensed at my critical column warning that Rove’s attack could backfire on the GOP. But since we’re on the same side, I offer as a follow-up some suggestions for how the GOP should and could attack Hillary Clinton if she becomes the Democratic nominee.
If elected, Hillary Clinton would become the first woman president of the United States. So the first question is how the GOP and its candidate will stand against this seemingly historic candidacy without feeding the liberal media’s narrative of a Republican “War on Women.”
That will be the dilemma of 2016, assuming the GOP presidential candidate is a white male. Hillary will use “first woman president” as her trump card. Republicans who ignore or downplay this fact are fools. A successful Republican candidate must understand and appreciated that emotional appeal. In fact, the GOP candidate must make the case that yes, our nation is ready for a female president, but Hillary is not the right woman for the job.
There is tremendous momentum swirling around Mrs. Clinton that will begin to gather steam as soon as she announces her candidacy. A Hillary win would seem like a glorious victory for feminism, one of the 20th century’s greatest social movements. Remember how much difficulty 2008 GOP nominee John McCain had running against a freshman senator with a thin résumé who managed to position himself as the triumphant final act of the Civil Rights movement.
As we saw in 2008 and again in 2012, a candidate who represents the potential victory of a great movement is offered a “veil of protection” by the media that can be used when needed against anyone who dares to thwart the ultimate fulfillment of the movement. Just as a vote against Obama opened you up to suspicion of being a “racist,” we can fully expect that in 2016 opposing Hillary Clinton will draw suspicion that you are a “sexist.”
Furthermore, do not underestimate how many millions of Independent and even Republican baby-boomer women who helped sow the seeds of the feminist movement in the ‘60s and ‘70s will be cheering her on.
How does the male Republican presidential candidate maneuver around this movement? By persuading voters that an issue or personality flaw in the movement’s leader is more important than the triumph of the movement.
In the case of Hillary Clinton, that issue and personality flaw is “trust.”
This is where the gloves come off and all the past Clinton scandals of both Bill and Hillary come back to life. The campaign must come down to a simple question: “Can we trust the Clintons in the White House again?”
Exploiting Clinton scandals will be difficult, because there are so many!
Refresh your memory with this complete list of Clinton-administration controversies. But the problem is that time has moved on, and many voters either have forgotten or were not even born.