As Donald Trump’s Ukraine troubles mount and polls show him lagging behind the leading Democratic presidential contenders, the president and his allies are dreaming up a 2020 scenario in which they surely can’t lose.
Hillary Clinton, they’ve collectively wished, could very well launch another White House bid.
“I think that Crooked Hillary Clinton should enter the race to try and steal it away from Uber Left Elizabeth Warren,” Trump tweeted on Monday.
The idea that Clinton is about to run for the presidency again is largely without merit. Her staff has repeatedly denied she will do so, though she playfully told Trump on Tuesday not to “tempt” her. And yet, Trump isn’t the only one conjuring up images of a Clinton comeback.
The idea that Clinton would mount a third presidential bid has circulated for months among fringe right-wing activists. Now, as House Democrats move closer to impeaching Trump, more mainstream pro-Trump figures are picking up the same claim.
“Do not be surprised, my friends, if she decides to try again in 2020,” radio host Rush Limbaugh told his national audience on Sept. 27. “Do not be surprised.”
The phantom presidential campaign theory has also been picked up by former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who said on Fox Business on Sept. 30 that “she is running.” And it’s been embraced over the past few days on Fox News, where hosts like Greg Gutfeld, Tucker Carlson, and Laura Ingraham have claimed Clinton could enter the race.
Ingraham told her audience on Monday that Clinton was rumored to be running.
“There are serious whispers about another Hillary Clinton run,” Ingraham said. “I’m not kidding. We should be so lucky.”
Ingraham didn’t expand on what “whispers” she was referring to. On Monday’s edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight, conservative columnist Mark Steyn claimed that Clinton was attacking Trump to set up her presidential campaign.
“She wants them to hand her the crown again,” Steyn said.
“I totally agree with you,” Carlson said.
Much of the right’s coverage of Clinton has focused on her recent book tour for The Book of Gutsy Women, which Clinton co-authored with her daughter Chelsea. While Clinton’s talk show appearances and media interviews are clearly part of her book rollout, pro-Trump personalities have seen Clinton’s increased visibility as the first step in a shadow presidential bid.
Fringier pro-Trump figures have long claimed that Clinton would launch yet another presidential bid. Pro-Trump blog The Gateway Pundit has frequently referenced “rumors” of a Clinton bid. Ben Garrison, a pro-Trump cartoonist whose own White House invite was rescinded in July over an anti-Semitic cartoon he drew, reposted a convoluted February cartoon on Monday imagining Clinton as a groundhog seeing her shadow, marked “2020.”
“Will #HillaryClinton run again?” Garrison tweeted. “We have always said yes.”
Some of the right’s Clinton 2020 fever appears to come from a Monday tweet by @BreakingNLive, a right-leaning breaking news Twitter account with more than 125,000 followers. The account, which mixes straight-news rewrites of mainstream media headlines with thinly sourced “bombshell” exclusives that regularly fail to pan out, claimed that “multiple sources” had told them Clinton was “thinking about” a run.
@BreakingNLive never published an article expanding on the claim or their sourcing, and even conservative Twitter aggregator Twitchy described the post as “one of those tweets we don’t quite trust.” Still, the tweet took off on the right-wing internet.
“I’ve been saying this for months…” tweeted conservative writer Eric Metaxas, the author of pro-Trump children’s book Donald Drains the Swamp. “I don’t think she can bear to let so many Dems whom she thinks far less qualified than she get the office she did not get…”
Despite the absolute lack of evidence Clinton is planning a 2020 bid,even former 2012 Republican presidential hopeful and ex-Godfather’s Pizza chief Herman Cain weighed in on Monday, tweeting, “Oh boy, here we go again.”