Guests on Sunday’s political talk shows discussed the House’s probe into the 2012 Benghazi terror attack and touched on the scandal over excessive wait times and poor care at the Nation’s veterans hospitals. But there was one topic that eclipsed all of the other political talk this week: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the possibility that she will run for President in 2016.
Clinton can thank comments recently made by GOP strategist Karl Rove for much of the attention. Rove, last week, questioned whether the former first lady is in good enough health to re-enter the White House as commander-in-chief.
On Fox News Sunday, Rove addressed the firestorm he created last week after he said that the head injury Clinton suffered in 2012 should be an issue, should she decide to run in 2016.
Rove said that his comments were not only about Clinton’s health, but about whether she is seriously considering a Presidential bid.
“I’m not questioning her health,” he said. “What I’m questioning is whether or not it’s a done deal that she’s running. And she would not be human if she did not take this into consideration.”
Rove said that some of the fanfare surrounding Clinton may be premature.
“People say, ‘You know, she’s in; this is a done deal.’ I’m not so certain,” he said.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, a Democrat, told CNN’s Candy Crowley that he worries about the “inevitability” of Clinton running in 2016.
“I worry a little bit,” he said when asked if 2016 was “Hillary all the way.”
“She’s an enormously capable candidate and leader. But I do worry about the inevitability thing… I think it’s off-putting to the average voter,” he said.
Patrick refused to endorse Clinton, saying that he has another job to focus on right now.
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) also weighed in on Clinton, calling Rove’s questions about the former top diplomat’s health “pathetic.” The 80 year-old Senator, who has been in office since 1992, also said Clinton is in the “prime of her political life.”
“She’s got the energy. She’s articulate. She’s got the background. She’s got the smarts. She has all of the elements of a good leader plus the fact, and this is not to be underestimated, she is enormously attractive to people,” Feinstein said. “And she carries the torch for women who are the majority of votes in this country, very strongly and very high.”
Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg also attacked Rove, saying of the strategist’s remarks, “It was about as inappropriate a thing as you could say.”
“Hillary Clinton, whether you agree with her policies or not, whether you want to vote for her…she’s a quality person. She is also a great American, works as hard as anybody and is dedicated to this country,” Bloomberg said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
“You can’t ask somebody to do more than she has done for her country. I thought his remarks just were outrageous.”
Bloomberg said that he doesn’t know whether Clinton will run but added that “she would be a spectacular candidate on the Democratic side.”
The party-jumping former mayor also named a few Republican candidates he would like to see run, including New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
On the Republican side, former Vice President Dick Cheney — no stranger to serious health problems — said on Fox that he didn’t question Clinton’s health. The former Vice President did, however, note that anyone running for President “is going to have to answer questions about their health.”
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” said that he welcomes Clinton to run for President in 2016.
“I think Hillary’s a known product,” Priebus said. “Hillary has decades of history for us to explore.”
Feinstein, who investigated portions of the Benghazi attack on the Senate Intelligence Committee, repeatedly condemned the House effort to learn more about the terror attack Sunday.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” she said. “I think it’s a hunting mission for a lynch mob.”
The Senator contends that the White House did nothing wrong leading up to, during or after the attacks based on the investigations that have already been conducted.
Feinstein, conceding that independent reports did find that the Benghazi attack could have been prevented, compared the 2012 attacks to the 1983 terror attacks in Beirut which led to 241 American deaths under President Ronald Reagan’s watch.
“If you compare [Benghazi] to Ronald Reagan, the big Republican hero, and what happened in Beirut … and Reagan admitted we weren’t ready for it,” she said.
Priebus said that Clinton is responsible for trying to “sweep” the 2012 terror attack “under the rug.” That, he contends, should be a much bigger issue than whether she’s healthy enough to run for President.
“If you want any evidence of that, ask the families of people who lost their sons in Benghazi. They’ve talked plenty about what happened in Benghazi,” Priebus said.
Cheney also spoke about Benghazi, saying that Clinton bears responsibility for what happened.
“She was Secretary of State at the time that it happened — she was one of the first in Washington to know about it,” Cheney said. “I think she clearly bears responsibility for whatever the State Department did or didn’t do with respect to that crisis.”
The former Vice President said that Benghazi is an issue that Americans can expect to hear much more about.
Whether delays at veterans hospitals in the U.S. contributed to deaths and led officials at the institutions to falsify documents to conceal treatment delays is still under investigation.
White House aide Denis McDonough said on “Face the Nation” that President Barack Obama is “madder than hell” about reports of wrongdoing at veterans’ hospitals.
“At the same time that we’re looking at accountability we want to continue to perform to provide our veterans the services that they have earned,” he said.
The official, when asked if Obama still has faith in Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, said that the President is demanding that all VA officials continue to fix things until the VA system functions “the way that our veterans believe” it should.
Samuel Foote, a retired VA doctor who recently provided information about the VA backlogs to media outlets, told Fox that even if Obama were to fire Shinseki over the recent reports on problems in the VA system, not much would change.
“If we switch secretaries then the focus will get away from fixing the problem to who the new secretary’s going to be. And then he’ll have a three- or six-month or a nine-month grace period because he’s the new guy,” Foote said. “Our best bet at this point is to keep the (current) secretary on board, but I think the President needs to keep him on a pretty short leash and be sure that he’s doing the job.”