HH: An interesting article appeared at The Hill by my guest, Amie Parnes. She is the co-author, along with Jon Allen, of HRC, that wonderful biography of Hillary Rodham Clinton. And today, she wrote in The Hill about the people that Hillary fears most. Amie, welcome to the program, it’s great to talk to you.
AP: Thanks for having me, Hugh, I really appreciate it.
HH: Now it’s very interesting to write that piece today. I wonder if you’ve heard anything from Hillaryworld about it.
AP: It’s been silent ever since this piece came out. But I did talk to them quite a bit before the story came out. So I know, I knew exactly where they were all coming from.
HH: So summarize for our audience who the four people Hillary should be most afraid of come 2016 are.
AP: So what we have are Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Chris Christie and Scott Walker, who many are labeling a dark horse, but you know, they’re taking him rather seriously, actually.
HH: In Hillaryworld, they’re taking Scott Walker very seriously?
AP: They are. You know, I first started hearing rumblings there was a Ready For Hillary meeting in New York two week ago where lots of donors came, hundreds of donors, and staunch Hillary supporters, and a lot of them talked to the press. And we were sort of picking their brains on who they were most concerned about, and who had a good shot at becoming the nominee. And you started hearing rumblings of Scott Walker. And I started looking into it, and sure enough, you know, that Democrats are very interested in what he has to say. And you know, this is someone who has run successful, a successful campaign in a Democratic-leaning state, and someone that they are very concerned about.
HH: Now Amie Parnes is my guest, author of HRC with Jon Allen, author of a piece in The Hill today. Do they worry about my guest from last hour, Senator Ted Cruz?
AP: I’m not hearing that name so much. You know, I actually talked to them about Ted Cruz. You know, there are these four guys that I mentioned, and they’re really focused on them. I think the DNC is keeping, you know, they’re making books, as they call them, on all these different candidates, but their focus is basically on these four people.
HH: And is their focus at all in Hillaryworld on Mitt Romney and the possible of the 2012 nominee on the lists?
AP: Not at all, and I found that pretty interesting, because you saw a poll earlier this week released by CNN that showed that lots of people, I think 20%, they had, were supportive of a candidacy, a Mitt Romney candidacy. But this isn’t someone that they’re concerned about, particularly because a lot of these people who are now working for Ready For Hillary, were Obama people. They know what to expect with Mitt Romney, and he’s not a great concern to them.
HH: So is that because they don’t think he’s going to run, or because they think they could beat him easily?
AP: I think they think that they could beat him easily. They played, you know, they saw how Obama played this. They have the playbook on Mitt Romney. They know what to expect. You know, if they were to run against someone like a Mitt Romney or a Jeb Bush, I think they would try to play up her middle class roots, Hillary Clinton’s middle class roots, you know, because I know that wealth is going to be a factor in this race, and people are going to point to her and say you know, her wealth comments, and say well, you’re just as wealthy. But I think she’s going to say but I never, I didn’t start out this way. I’m not against wealth. I’m just, you know, this is just who I am. It was part of my trajectory.
HH: Amie Parnes, what does she perceive as her own vulnerabilities?
AP: I think they’re quite a few when you talk to people. I think inevitability is one of them. It’s a huge factor, and we heard that again and again at this Ready For Hillary meeting a couple of weeks ago. They think that inevitability could hurt her in many ways, and they saw how it hurt her in 2008. And I think, you know, I think people are just, they have Clinton fatigue. And I think a lot of aides are very concerned about that. So they’re looking to repackage her in a way that makes her sort of seem fresh and of the moment. And I think they’re going to have to, you know, work hard on that. It’s hard for her to seem, you know, of the people, and not seem, and not have that Clinton name with her. So they’re going to have to work on kind of humanizing her, if you will, and making her into a candidate that people want to have a beer with, as they say.
HH: Oh, my gosh. Isn’t that impossible?
AP: I don’t know. It remains to be seen, but yeah, I think a lot of people would agree with you that you know, it is tough for her, because she does seem so, you know, behind the scenes, she can be very kind of funny and candid, but she’s unwilling to let that side show. And I think that hurts her.
HH: What is her agenda? What’s her vision?
AP: She’s still working on that. But I think you are going to see her play up this middle class, her middle class roots, if you will.
HH: Is it just power for the sake of power with the Clintons?
AP: You know, I think that they actually, they believe in public service, that’s for sure, but I think, you know, that they’re going to have to actually prove what they want to do. And she’s going to have to prove what she wants to do and where she wants to take the country. And that was something that really hurt her in 2008. She didn’t have a message. They’re going to really have to develop that message coming up.
HH: And does she have a record that she’s proud of? I mean, what are they going to say about her years at State other than trying to get people to look the other way and play Burma Bingo?
AP: I know, I think they’re going to have to try to really play that up, because there is no real bumper sticker issue, you know, where, that she can campaign on. You know, I think that they’re going to play out, as we talk about in our book a lot, you know, there were certain moments where the President really counted on her – the bin Laden raid, for instance. She was instrumental in sort of making that all happen. And Leon Panetta came to her very early on and wanted her buy-in to make that happen, because he knew that she sort of had these hawkish views. And I think they’re going to play that up a little bit, especially in a general election. I think that would play well for her.
HH: And a last question, again, The Hill reporter, Amie Parnes, is a biographer of Hillary, and she’s got a great piece today on the people they fear most. Who does Bill match up against best, because I really think this is the third Bill Clinton campaign. I don’t know if you agree with that or not, but Bill’s got to want more, one of these candidates more than another.
AP: I mean, there are two people that I would love to see him match up against – Jeb Bush because of the Clinton/Bush dynasties, obviously. I mean, wouldn’t you love to see that play out? And also, Chris Christie, because he is just this vocal guy, and he is willing, you know, I talked to a GOP aide for this piece, and the guy said this is a guy who’s willing to go after anyone, and can kind of take her on in a debate. And I think that that would be really fascinating to watch.
HH: I lied about last question. Here’s my last question. What will Bill’s role in the White House be if she wins her first election?
AP: I have a feeling she would use him as, you know, he would be the guy, he would be the conduit between Capitol Hill and the White House. She would send him, he has so many contacts on Capitol Hill, on both sides of the aisle, and I think she would use him effectively in that way.
HH: Would he be co-president?
AP: No, I think she would work very hard to sort of make sure who the president is, and I don’t think that would happen. But I think he would be almost like a senior advisor to her.
HH: They must be vetting V.P.’s already. We have one minute. Who’s on that list?
AP: Oh, that’s a good question. We’re still trying to figure that out. You know, Jonathan and I are working on a second book right now, and so that’s at the top of our list.
HH: And if you had to just speculate, give me three.
AP: Three? That’s a tough one. I would say maybe a Castro, maybe, you know, it’s hard to say. It would have to be someone, I don’t think it’s going to be an Elizabeth Warren, for sure.
HH: Could Deval Patrick be on that list?
AP: Maybe, maybe. I think someone, I don’t know, I’m not quite sure. I think he might be on the list. It’s hard to say at that point.
HH: Amie Parnes, great to talk to you, congratulations. HRC is going to be under a lot of Christmas trees in Hillaryworld, and around the country this year, authored by Amie and her co-author, Jon Allen.
End of interview.