The Slatest

Republicans (and Drudge) Try to Goad Hillary Into Campaigning Early

Screenshot of the Drudge Report on Tuesday, Feb. 10

The Republican National Committee on Tuesday launched its latest anti-Hillary Clinton effort, a campaign dubbed “Hillary’s Hiding” that hits the former secretary of state and presumed 2016 hopeful for being MIA on the public campaign trail.

According to Politico, which got a sneak peek of the multimedia strategy, the effort will include billboards in early primary and caucus states like Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, op-eds, and videos. As you can see by the screengrab at the top of this post, the rollout is also getting a rather large unpaid push from the Drudge Report, which went through the trouble of providing its own art for the attacks but didn’t take the time to offer the slightest bit of context. (The Weekly Standard blog post to which Drudge links, meanwhile, largely reproduces the RNC pitch but at least makes it clear who is behind the attack.)

The general goal of the GOP effort is to highlight the fact that Clinton has been noticeably absent from the national conversation in recent months. She hasn’t been to Iowa or New Hampshire since November’s midterms, and has also declined to comment on the record for a variety of news stories since May. “Why would a would-be presidential candidate behave this way?” RNC communications director Sean Spicer wrote in his pitch to reporters. “Because she’s made a strategic decision that the only way to ensure she is the Democratic nominee is to make everyone think she’s inevitable.”

It’s a somewhat odd campaign, though, in no small part because of timing. We’re currently 21 months away from Election Day, after all. If Clinton jumps into the race in April as expected, that will still be a year and a half before voters go to the polls. Yet here we have Republicans trying to score a few points by criticizing a woman they like to paint as a career politician for not doing what a politician typically does. That’s an awkward sell, even if it feeds into the conservative talking point that Clinton somehow feels as though she is owed the presidency. Regardless, it’s hard to imagine that a year from now voters will be lamenting that the 2016 campaign hasn’t been long enough.

This post has been updated to provide additional context about the Drudge link.