Chris Christie, Hillary Clinton are targets in unusually early opposition campaigns

 FILE - In this Dec. 4, 2013, file photo, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks in New York. Clinton hasn't announced whether she will run for president in 2016, but her supporters in early voting Iowa started organizing Saturday anyway. Top Iowa Democrats gathered in Des Moines Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, for an event aimed at generating support for a potential Clinton campaign.(AP Photo/Jason DeCrow, File)

FILE - In this Dec. 4, 2013, file photo, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks in New York. Clinton hasn't announced whether she will run for president in 2016, but her supporters in early voting Iowa started organizing Saturday anyway. Top Iowa Democrats gathered in Des Moines Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, for an event aimed at generating support for a potential Clinton campaign.(AP Photo/Jason DeCrow, File)

— The 2016 presidential campaign _ yes, 2016 _ is in full swing, as Republicans and Democrats slug it out with relentless, unusually early efforts to discredit and demonize potential rivals.

Democrats are after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Republicans are eagerly tarring former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Traditionally, presidential candidates had the luxury of methodically building their own images at this early stage, as rivals did opposition research best used closer to Election Day. Christie and Clinton were doing just that. Christie, inaugurated Tuesday for a second term, planned to build an image of a strong leader able to win in a Democratic state. Clinton is finishing her book on her years at the State Department, with a nationwide tour to follow aimed at defining her tenure on her terms.

Now the rules for running for president are changing. "I don't know that we've ever seen anything like this," said veteran media consultant Kenn Venit.

Not only can't the candidates set their own timetables and agendas, but there's evidence the opposition campaigns may work.

Clinton's approval numbers, while still healthy, are down. Christie is also slipping since reports surfaced about his administration's involvement in closing parts of the George Washington Bridge to retaliate against a Democratic mayor who wouldn't endorse the governor.

A Quinnipiac University poll Tuesday found Clinton up 8 percentage points over Christie in a hypothetical nationwide matchup. Last month, they were neck and neck. A new Pew Research Center survey showed the governor's unfavorable ratings have doubled in a year.

The results follow two weeks of a nonstop Democratic barrage. The past week alone featured a Saturday night Democratic "rapid response" to the latest Chris Christie news, a reminder that he engages in a "pattern of bullying and political retribution."

Clinton keeps getting battered, too. When a bipartisan Senate committee last week reported that the September 2012 attacks that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, were "preventable," Senate Intelligence Committee Republicans went further. Clinton's actions "made a difference in the lives of four murdered Americans and their families," they wrote.

The strategy is to plant voter doubts about the candidates' character and leadership ability, and redefining Christie or Clinton is going to be a difficult, lengthy process. After all, Christie's tough-guy image and Clinton's lengthy resume made them popular in the first place.

Already, "Democrats are a little bit behind the curve. Christie has built an image for himself that's allowed him to weather this bridge scandal," said Andrew Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center.

Similarly, "Clinton has been around a long time, and at this point, you either like her or hate her," said Iowa Republican Chairman A.J. Spiker.

The efforts to singe them go on and on.

The Christie chronicle began in September, when officials close to him were instrumental in shutting down two of the three bridge lanes linking Fort Lee, N.J., to the George Washington Bridge. Christie apologized, fired aides involved in the incident and said he knew nothing about it.

Since then, the state's legislators have authorized special committees to investigate. In addition, federal investigators are looking into whether the Christie administration misused federal funds to provide help for victims of 2012's Superstorm Sandy.

Democrats have pounded away.

"The past couple of weeks have been most Americans' first introduction to Chris Christie. ... People are seeing him as America's bully-in-chief," said Mo Elleithee, the Democratic National Committee's communications director.

"Granite Staters are still seeking answers," said New Hampshire's Democratic Party.

New Jersey's Assembly Democrats send email alerts to national political reporters detailing subpoenas issued in the bridge case.

When the media found Christie's assertion that he had had "no contact" with Port Authority official David Wildstein "in a long, long time" to be untrue, American Bridge 21st Century, a Democratic political group, sent out a 1 {-minute video reminding everyone of Christie's stumble.

Those pushing these stories say they're simply trying to get the facts out.

"The seemingly endless stream of scandals coming out of his administration has definitely taken a toll on his national brand, but each and every one of those wounds is self-inflicted," said American Bridge spokesman Chris Harris.

New Jersey Assembly Democratic spokesman Tom Hester said he's sent out material because the national media requested it. Whether all this was tarnishing the Christie brand was "not for us to decide. We are a policy and legislative office doing oversight," he said.

The Republicans' battering of Clinton is less relentless, but still vigorous. Since the start of this year, Republican National Committee officials have posted nine items about Clinton on their blog, including two on Tuesday.

The Republicans' favorite Clinton target is Benghazi.

"At the end of the day, she was responsible for ensuring the safety of all Americans serving in our diplomatic facilities," said a report last week by Senate Intelligence Committee Republicans, who included possible 2016 presidential candidate Marco Rubio, R-Fla. "Her failure to do so clearly made a difference in the lives of the four murdered Americans and their families."

The report was another chapter in the Republican narrative. One of the party's New Year's resolutions for Obama was: "I resolve to hold myself and Hillary responsible for Benghazi."

There is some danger of a backlash from all this. Venit warned that the public could sour on candidates and not vote. And if a candidate can dodge the bullets and paint critics as mean-spirited, he or she could emerge stronger than ever.

Still, the parties fear Christie and Clinton, so they feel they have to act sooner rather than later.

Even if they are not engaged in 2016 politics, said Ann Selzer, director of the Iowa Poll, "they're already national figures. People are paying attention to them."

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Comments » 13

MIOCENE1 writes:

Mark my words. Christie will 'beat himself'.

It is just a matter of time before he 'blows his cool' and comes off sounding like a maniac.

Either that or the Jesus Cult; which contols the GOP will again bury themselves when they start in with Marriage Amendments, Personhood Amendments, public prayer, rolling women's rights back to the 1950's; and all the other ignorance, superstition, and Medieval rubbish which has permeated the Republican Party over the last 30 years.

MIOCENE (PAREIDOLIA)

Konfuzius writes:

"The Republicans' favorite Clinton target is Benghazi."

I guess GOP is s----- enough to do so.
With no success!!!!!!!!

Tom_Massie writes:

Konfuzius,

The combination of Benghazi and the expression "What difference does it make?" is an example of a person with a loss of feelings for others.

Suppose that it was your family member that was killed by someone's lack of action and concern? It may have happened time and again in the past but that does not justify the actions of the here and now.

Tom Sr.

1Paradiselost writes:

"The Beirut Barracks Bombings "October 23, 1983, in Beirut, Lebanon) occurred during the Lebanese Civil War when two truck bombs struck separate buildings housing United States and French military forces—members of the Multinational Force (MNF) in Lebanon killing 299 American and French servicemen".

"The death toll total was 241 American servicemen: 220 Marines, 18 sailors and three soldiers, making this incident the deadliest single-day death toll for the United States Marine Corps since World War II's Battle of Iwo Jima".

"U.S. President Ronald Reagan on April 18 denounced the "vicious terrorist bombing" as a "cowardly act," saying, "This criminal act on a diplomatic establishment will not deter us from our goals of peace in the region".

U.S. Congressional response..... "The House Foreign Affairs Committee April 19 voted to approve $251 million in additional economic and military aid for Lebanon, as requested by the administration. But it attached an amendment to the bill that would force the White House to seek approval for any expanded U.S. military role".

Other effects.....

"Following the attack, the embassy was moved to a supposedly more secure location in East Beirut.

"However, on September 20, 1984, another car bomb exploded at this embassy annex, killing twenty Lebanese and two American soldiers".

After the embassy bombing, April 19, Sen. Barry Goldwater (R, Ariz.) said, "I think it's high time we bring the boys home."

Barry... We should have listened to you!

We should all wonder how those family's feel some 30 years later? We should also honor all of our members of the American diplomatic corps. They all (both then and now) gave their life's so we can be free!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1983_Uni...

Tom_Massie writes:

If I needed to look up history I could do that too, but as I said this is the here and now. What was wrong then does in, no way, justify what happened and the response by Ms. Clinton.

Tom_Massie writes:

Another thing, why do you feel it necessary to justify something wrong by other things equally wrong. That is just why getting the truth out of things does not occur. We get overwhelmed with things that have little to do with the issue at hand and just confuses the successful and honest resolution of issues that need an honest looking into.

Tom Sr.

1Paradiselost writes:

Tom,

We agree on many issues. However to be fair, Looking up on the history of "The Beirut Barracks Bombings" I did not find one reference of anyone blaming secretary of state George P. Shultz at the time.

However times have changed, and not for the better.... Our last great president Ronald Reagan could not even get elected today. What's that say about us as a people? No wonder why so many are so angry.

I try to remember... "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to to repeat it!

Tom_Massie writes:

Well it really seems that those we now have in office have not learned from history, have they now?

1Paradiselost writes:

in response to Tom_Massie:

Well it really seems that those we now have in office have not learned from history, have they now?

Correct!

After the embassy bombing, April 19, Sen. Barry Goldwater (R, Ariz.) said, "I think it's high time we bring the boys home."

Let them blow themselves up! They been fight each other for thousands of years. It's impossible for us (Americans) to make civilized humans out of savages!

Tom_Massie writes:

You may not get the goody, goodies to agree with you, especially the holy roller types but what you said seems to be the only logical way to deal with people who thrive on death, just so they can get their share of virgins or whatever was made up by some unbalenced clergyman years ago.

Killing in the name of religion should be the ultimate SIN!

Konfuzius writes:

Let the GOP do what they like to do. GOP is a loser party. They will not win with subjects like this.
The much more interesting question will be:

"Why did W. Bush needed the second Iraq war? Weapons of mass destruction are never found!"

liberator100 writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

liberator100 writes:

DUMMKOPF!!! AGAIN!!!

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