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Not too early to say it’s Hillary’s time

U.S. Secretary State Hillary Clintlistens as she is introduced speak residence U.S. ambassador Belgium Brussels

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton listens as she is introduced to speak at the residence of the U.S. ambassador to Belgium in Brussels

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Updated: July 25, 2013 6:10AM



If Hillary Clinton can best Florida’s two favorite sons, it’s all over but the inaugural hullabaloo.

In a matchup between Sen. Marco Rubio and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Clinton reigns supreme.

In that crucial state, the former secretary of state would conquer both Rubio and Bush in the 2016 presidential election, according to a new poll by Quinnipiac University.

If the election were held today, Clinton would top Bush 50 percent to 43 percent. She would prevail over Rubio, 53 percent to 41 percent.

Quinnipiac, a respected research institution, surveyed 1,176 registered Florida voters June 11 to 16, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.

Bush and Rubio have been perched atop the list of GOP likely nominees for years. Bush bears the presidential family name, is a popular former governor. Most important, he is from Florida.

Rubio, a handsome young political turk, represents the prized Latino demographic. Most important, he is from Florida.

Yet, in this early barometer, Clinton takes the Sunshine State.

Those numbers should be sobering to the legions of GOP aspirants salivating over a 2016 bid.

How could Clinton do so well against these established politicians on their own turf? I consulted my friends, the top political experts Richard Strell and Pepi Ertag, both Floridians and skeptical Democrats. How about that poll?

“It’s fixed!” Richard declared.

In Florida, the blue hairs are going bye bye, Pepi said. “It’s about the demographics. Younger, increasingly Latino, especially Puerto Ricans in the center of the state.”

My take: Rubio is walking an impossibly thin tightrope on the pivotal issue of immigration reform, and sending mixed messages. He can’t appease the right, which is obsessed with border control, while assuring Latino voters a path to citizenship. And three Bushes in the White House is one too many.

So is Clinton a 2016 shoo-in? Hillary bundlers, don’t go shopping for the Jason Wu gowns yet. Remember, back in 2008, a winning White House run for Clinton seemed inevitable.

Still, she’s well-positioned. On the Democratic side, if Clinton goes for it, the primary is over. Andrew Cuomo, Joe Biden, Rahm Emanuel, et al., will be iced out, as only Hillary Clinton can.

Vice President Joe Biden came in behind Rubio and Bush in the Quinnipiac poll. Bush would beat Biden 47 percent to 43 percent, and Rubio would prevail over Biden by a slight margin, 45 percent to 43 percent.

In presidential politics, it’s never too early to make bets. Last week, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri anted up. She is the first member of Congress to back a Hillary Clinton presidential bid. McCaskill signed on with the group Ready for Hillary, a new superPAC that is leading a potent “Draft Hillary” movement.

McCaskill’s relationship with the Clintons hasn’t always been sublime. Early in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, McCaskill endorsed Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton.

And in a national TV interview in 2006, McCaskill said of Bill Clinton: “I think he’s been a great leader, but I don’t want my daughter near him.”

Today, McCaskill is all in. The Clinton mystique is a powerful thing.



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