Hillary's Secret Weapon? Praise From Republican Lawmakers

Republican praise of the Clinton era over the last several years could reverberate in the 2016 presidential race, giving the Democratic front-runner a key talking point.

One of Hillary Clinton's biggest challengers in her likely White House bid is convincing voters that she can make Washington work. Critics have long called Clinton a polarizing figure, citing her effort to revamp the nation's healthcare system in the 1990s and more recently, her congressional testimony on the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya.

But Clinton can counter those salvoes by citing Republican compliments of her and a slew of GOP statements on how former President Clinton worked with the other side of the aisle to pass sweeping legislation.

Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), the 2012 GOP vice presidential candidate, last year said if Clinton had become president in 2009, “we’d have fixed this fiscal mess by now.” The Budget Committee chairman was drawing a comparison between Clinton and President Obama, who has struggled to strike deals with Republicans.

Should she become commander-in-chief, Clinton would not lead the nation exactly how her husband did. But she would likely adopt a similar leadership style, and Bill Clinton would be right at her side.

On many occasions, Republicans have touted Bill Clinton's reign as a way to bash Obama. They maintain the 42nd president negotiated in good faith and Obama doesn't.

Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist who is chairman of the CivilForumPAC, said these GOP remarks will echo in 2016.

“If Hillary Clinton does indeed run in 2016, one of the most powerful weapons she will have in her campaign arsenal is ‘Republicans, in their own words.’ It’s a treasure trove of sound-bytes and footage that could leave Republicans kicking themselves when it is all said and done.”

O’Connell said, “Need to distance yourself from the albatross known as Obama? Roll the tape. Want to tout your bipartisan credentials to woo independents? Roll the tape. Have to show that you’re a pragmatic problem solver? Roll the tape.

Read more from Bob Cusack at The Hill

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Analysis & Political Strategy