Hillary Clinton officially launched her 2016 campaign for the presidency on Sunday and Republicans are already on the attack.
Sen. Rand Paul, who announced his own candidacy last week, released an ad prior to Clinton’s announcement on Sunday in which a voiceover says, “Hillary Clinton represents the worst of the Washington machine – the arrogance of power, corruption and cover-up, conflicts of interest and failed leadership with tragic consequences.” The Kentucky lawmaker has also rolled out a “Liberty Not Hillary” website complete with its own hashtag.
He tweeted later: “The Clintons believe they are above the law. America, what we need right now is #libertynothillary.”
His campaign website is also already hawking anti-Hillary Clinton swag including a bumper stickers and a hard drive with her face on it.
The only other declared candidate in the Republican race, Sen. Ted Cruz released a lengthy statement Sunday in which he said Hillary Clinton represents the “failed policies of the past” and her campaign would amount to a “third Obama term.”
“Her announcement raises a critical question: Is the world a safer place because Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State? The answer is obvious. No. The Obama-Clinton national security policies have made the world more dangerous for America and for our allies,” said Cruz.
“She designed and implemented ‘leading from behind.’ On her watch we have witnessed the rise of Russia, Iran, and ISIS. Radical Islamic terrorists are on the march. Here at home, the Obama-Clinton economic policies have made life harder and harder for millions of hard-working Americans,” he added. “We know that a Hillary Clinton Administration would be no different than an Obama Administration.”
Jeb Bush, another likely Republican rival for the presidency, released a web video ahead of Clinton’s announcement in which he strategically linked the former secretary of state with the current occupant of the White House. “We must do better than the Obama, Clinton foreign policy,” Bush says directly to the camera.
Carly Fiorina, who is currently the only other women seriously considering a presidential run, released a Facebook video in reaction to Clinton’s announcement. The former CEO of Hewitt-Packard conceded that while Clinton is clearly a “highly intelligent” and “hard-working” person she doesn’t have “a track record of accomplishment or transparency.”
“She’s not the woman for the White House,” Fiorina said after a series of familiar criticisms of Clinton’s record as secretary of state, her handling of attacks on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi and the controversy over her use of a private email server while heading the State Department.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of Clinton’s harshest critics on Benghazi, said her announcement “reminds us of the dire trouble our country is in.”
“I am close to making a decision about my plans for the future, but you can be certain that Secretary Clinton’s candidacy makes me all the more concerned about the future of our country,” he added.
Another undeclared candidate, Scott Walker, tweeted: “@HillaryClinton has the same Washington-knows-best mentality people around the country are looking to move beyond.” And Rick Santorum, who said last week he was “testing the waters” for a presidential run tweeted, “I know Hillary Clinton. I served with Hillary Clinton. She does not have the right vision to lead America.”
Donald Trump, the real estate mogul and perpetual potential candidate, didn’t offer up his own statement but retweeted anti-Clinton comments and mentions that suggested he would beat her in a head-to-head match-up.
For his part, Sen. Marco Rubio, another 2016 contender, sarcastically tweeted “Ready for Monday,” as a tease of his own impending campaign announcement and a dig at Clinton supporters’ signature catchphrase.
Rick Lazio, who ran unsuccessfully against Clinton for an open U.S. Senate seat in New York back in 2000, claimed that Clinton’s campaign would deliberately portray their opponents as “sexist” or “ageist” in order to win. “I think they’re going to use it as a shield, and I think they’ll use it offensively if they can,” he told msnbc’s Steve Kornacki on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the RNC seized on the dawn on the former first lady’s campaign to promote a #StopHillary meme which called on social media users to change their profile picture an anti-Clinton sign. The 2012 GOP nominee for president, Mitt Romney, boosted the RNC project on his on Twitter page.
RNC chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement Sunday, “Americans need a president they can trust and voters do not trust Hillary Clinton. Over decades as a Washington insider, Clinton has left a trail of secrecy, scandal, and failed policies that can’t be erased from voters’ minds. The Clintons believe they can play by a different set of rules and think they’re above transparency, accountability, and ethics. Our next president must represent a higher standard, and that is not Hillary Clinton.”
“Clinton’s announcement comes in the shadows of looming investigations over deletion of State Department records and suspicious foreign donations. For weeks Clinton has stonewalled the American public on unanswered questions around these many scandals. As an official candidate, Clinton must come clean with the American people,” he added.
Ironically, now that Clinton is the leading contender for the Democratic nomination for president many Republicans who had previously praised her will now be rushing to condemn her record, particularly on foreign policy.