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Hillary Clinton is an anachronism

Story highlights

  • Mitt Romney offers advice on how to beat Hillary Clinton in a presidential race
  • S.E. Cupp: The electorate is pretty fickle when it comes to records
  • She says a candidate needs to show why he or she is right for the current time
  • Cupp: Despite her many adoring fans, Hillary Clinton is an anachronism today

Mitt Romney is not running for president, but that hasn't stopped him from offering his advice on how to best beat the likely Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.

And his advice says a lot about why, in part, he went 0-2 in his race for the White House.

S.E. Cupp

"The playbook, I believe," he told David Gregory on NBC's "Meet the Press," "is to look at her record."

"I think you have to consider what's happened around the world," he continued, "During the years that she was secretary of state, and you have to say it's been a monumental bust." Romney then went on to enumerate her many failures.

Of course, he's not wrong. Hillary Clinton's own supporters have had difficulty pinning down her accomplishments at the State Department, and those who aren't paid to puff her up are rightly calling her record abysmal. Even more problematically, her record looks worse and worse with nearly every new development abroad, and in two years' time, there might be little left of it to salvage.

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But what Mitt Romney (or his handlers at the very least) never figured out is that there's more to this national election business than a candidate's resume.

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The electorate is pretty fickle when it comes to records. In some years there's great attention paid to whether someone has "executive experience," in other years it's the freshness of the candidate that matters. No one, for example, cared what Barack Obama's record was in 2008; he had none to speak of.

So while earnestly taking on Clinton's record is something Republicans can and will do, it won't be enough if the American public cares more about what the next president will do now.

Opinion: Clinton hits some speed bumps

The bigger issue for any candidate is making the case that he or she is right for the current political climate. Who a person was in the past, for better or worse, is often irrelevant.

Romney is a perfect example. In 2012, against the backdrop of Occupy Wall Street and tea party rebellions -- both of which found common enemies in the banks, corporate cronyism and establishment politicians -- a millionaire former governor and the GOP's establishment pick probably wasn't the right candidate for the then-current climate, capable as he was.

The case, then, that Republicans need to make now, is that neither is Clinton.

And it isn't hard. Her own party has moved far to her left, not only since she was last in the White House and later the Senate, but just since she last ran for president.

On economic issues, progressives are clamoring for Elizabeth Warren's anti-bank crackdowns, while Clinton is taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street firms for speeches -- in which she assures them she isn't anti-bank. Her recent comments about needing all that dough to buy "houses" doesn't help.

On social issues, she may have recently evolved on same-sex marriage, but she hasn't done much to make a convincing (or even coherent) case for why, as we just heard in her testy interview with NPR's Terry Gross. And where she once praised her then-President husband for helping to make abortions "safe, legal and rare," Democrats have since removed that very language from their party platform, finding it a little too conciliatory.

And on civil liberties, millennials -- a generation of 80 million people -- are largely disappointed in an Obama administration that has spied on its allies and its own citizens, carried out an unaccountable drone war, and prosecuted whistleblowers under the Espionage Act. Will Clinton back her old boss on those programs and policies knowing a huge swath of voters are on the other side of the issue?

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Furthermore, on the left, the right and in the center voters are moving away from establishment candidates, frustrated with Washington and politics as usual. I can't think of anyone more establishment than Clinton.

Despite her many adoring fans, Clinton is an anachronism today, as Romney was in 2012. She doesn't speak progressive or millennial, and frankly she's out of touch with average voters.

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While her record is fair game and deserving of considerable scrutiny, the bigger question is whether she's the right candidate for the time, a lesson Romney learned the hard way.

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