In this May 14, 2014 file photo, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at an event Washington, D.C.
Cliff Owen/AP

Republicans’ new tactic to counter Hillary Clinton

Updated

Facing a backlash following comments about Hillary Clinton’s health and age, Republicans on Sunday largely shifted to a new tactic: Claiming that Clinton isn’t going to run at all – while reiterating their comments about her health and age.

“I’m not questioning her health. What I’m questioning is whether or not it’s a done deal if she’s running,” Karl Rove said on “Fox News Sunday,” via Politico. “And she would not be a human if did not take this into consideration. She’ll be 69 at the time of the 2016 election. If she gets elected and serves two terms, she’ll be 77.” Earlier this week, the New York Post reported that Rove told conference-goers in Los Angeles that Clinton had spent 30 days in the hospital for a concussion. She actually spent three. 

On “Meet the Press,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus struck a similar note on Clinton’s health, despite the fact that there’s no evidence the former secretary of state, who is still traveling the country giving speeches, is ailing at all. “What I think is [it’s] going to make her rethink whether she should actually run for president – by the way,” Priebus said. “I don’t actually think she will if she has another month like she just had.” 

While conceding, “I’m not a doctor,” Priebus said, ”I think that health and age is fair game. It was fair game for Ronald Reagan. It was fair game for John McCain.”

MSNBC Live with Craig Melvin, 5/18/14, 4:25 PM ET

GOP pundits question Hillary Clinton's health

Bob Herbert, Lynn Sweet, and Hector Barreto join Craig Melvin to discuss Karl Rove’s health attack on Hillary Clinton and Mayor Julian Castro’s appointment to the cabinet.
Separately on “Fox News Sunday,” former Vice President Dick Cheney said it was perfectly legitimate to question Hillary Clinton’s physical well-being. “Any presidential candidate or vice presidential candidate is going to have to answer questions about their health.” Meanwhile, his wife Lynne reiterated her suggestion that the Clintons were behind the reemergence of Monica Lewinsky. “I was really paying the Clintons a large compliment. I was saying how clever they are politically,” Lynne Cheney said, according to Politico

Meanwhile, Democratic California Sen. Dianne Feinstein defended Clinton on CNN’s “State of the Union,” saying, “In my view, she’s 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. She added that Clinton “carries the torch for women who are the majority of votes in this country, very strongly and very high.” Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick was more measured, saying on the same show that he thought that it would again hurt Hillary Clinton to be perceived as inevitable because it would be “off-putting to the average voter.”  

On “Meet the Press,” Democratic Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill called the line of attack “a cheap political shot.” She added, ”I don’t care what Reince Priebus says, they do not want Hillary Clinton. Because they know she is going to ignite a spark and enthusiasm across this country and she has got the strongest resume for president of anyone who’s run in a very long time.”

Hillary Clinton

Republicans' new tactic to counter Hillary Clinton

Updated