GOP Uses Hillary’s Past to Attack Her Future

Republicans are using Clinton’s previous time in the White House to define her possible prospects in 2016.

Sean Gardner/Getty

Hillary Clinton has retired as Secretary of State, and is—at the moment, at least—not yet a candidate for President of the United States.

But that hasn’t stopped the Republican Party from attempting to define her story, more than two years away from a general election season. And their target is her record in her old job.

In a new video released today, the GOP attempts to blame Clinton for some of the current difficulties that the Obama administration is facing in the foreign policy arena.

The video features the president downplaying the threat Russia faces interspersed with footage of the ongoing crisis Ukraine, the worsening conflict in Syria and television talking heads describing the president’s weakening clout on the international stage.

“What we are looking at now is the potential of a total collapse of the U.S-Russia relationship,” the video shows Andrew Weiss of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace saying as Clinton presents her Russian counterpart with a red “reset” button.

That button of course was mistranslated, providing an early embarrassment for Clinton’s tenure at the State Department.

The Republican effort is further proof that foreign policy will be central to the 2016 election season.

“Hillary Clinton’s argument will be centered around her experience,” Kevin Madden, a senior advisor to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, told The Daily Beast as the crisis in the Ukraine first flared. “But her record of underestimating Russia, and being either the naïve architect or the chief proponent of the reset policy could serve to undermine her case. She has weakened our position around the globe.”

The Republicans are also continuing to hit Clinton over the attacks at the American Embassy in Benghazi, Libya. A “fact sheet” accompanying the video is titled, “What Difference Does It Make, Really?” which was Clinton’s comment to a congressional committee when asked whether the attack was premeditated or a spontaneous demonstration.

The release also mocks Clinton for calling President Bashar-Al-Assad “a reformer” in 2011, and adds, “Fast Forward to Today: The Obama Administration’s Syria Policy Has Failed.”

Clinton has mostly clung tightly to the Obama administration’s foreign policy record while subtly signaling that she would be more hawkish than the president on issues like Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

By tying the two together, the Republicans are trying to make sure that Clinton is unable to distance herself further from Obama as world events become increasingly unmanageable.

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Democrats, however, pushed back, defending the Obama administration’s foreign policy record and portrayed the Republican attacks as an effort to return to a more militaristic foreign policy mindset.

“Over the last five years, the Obama administration ended the war in Iraq while drawing down in Afghanistan, signed a new START Treaty, implemented sanctions that brought Iran to the negotiating table and worked to decimate Al-Qaeda leadership. We’ve reengaged with our allies, repaired our standing in the international community, and made America safer and stronger. Those are just some of the accomplishments that define the Obama Administration’s foreign policy,” said Michael Czin, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee. “If Republicans want to define foreign policy by criticizing and advocating for the days of go-it-alone, cowboy diplomacy, that’s their call. The American people have been pretty clear that they are not interested in going back.”