Clinton's Dilemma

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THE PLANK DECEMBER 12, 2006

Clinton's Dilemma

Garance has a good piece on TNR online today about Obama's trip to New Hampshire this weekend. One of his speeches has been running on C-Span, and it occurred to me while watching that if Hillary Clinton wants to beat Obama in a primary, she is going to have to renounce her war vote ... and do it strongly. This may be more an intuition than actual knowledge, but looking at the faces of those NH voters as Obama talked about foreign policy, it was hard to believe they would vote for someone who hadn't come out strongly against the war. If Obama doesn't enter the race, Hillary will be running against opponents who all voted for the war, and even if they have since renounced those votes, she at least has more space in which to maneuver. But with Obama in the race, her calculation has to change. This must be particularly frustrating for Senator Clinton, who had probably been hoping on coasting through the primaries without having to veer too far left on national security. Even though Iraq will almost certainly play to the Democrats' advantage in '08, and despite the fact that the vast majority of the country has turned against the war, I am still skeptical that a woman can be anything but strongly hawkish and win a presidential election. --Isaac Chotiner

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