In her video clip and written statement, Clinton lost no time in confronting two of the major questions that loom as hurdles to her drive for the nomination — how she will reckon with her early support for the war in Iraq and whether wary voters will look beyond the furors of her eight high-profile years as Bill Clinton's influential first lady.An additional (and major) challenge she faces is the formidable field of primary opponents also vying for the party's nomination:
A conflicting spate of recent polls suggested Clinton is poised at the top of the field, but they also showed Obama would be a formidable foe in the early contests, as would former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina.Clinton's obviously well-prepared to serve as president. In fact, in an earlier post citing the New Yorker's recent article on the Democratic frontrunners, I was impressed with Clinton's sophistication on foreign policy and the Iraq War. Clinton is running well behind John McCain in head-to-head polling matchups, however. And while it's still early in the campaign season, it remains to be seen if Clinton -- during her time in the Senate -- has repositioned herself enough ideologically to appeal to broad segments of the American electorate.
A Washington Post-ABC News nationwide poll released Saturday of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents showed Clinton far ahead of the pack. She was backed by 41%, compared with 17% for Obama and 11% for Edwards.
But a survey released last week by pollster John Zogby of likely Democratic voters in the New Hampshire primary showed Obama slightly ahead, with Clinton and Edwards tied.
Already in full campaign mode, Edwards has staked out a strong antiwar position, disavowing his 2002 Senate vote to authorize the Iraq invasion. His aides suggest that Clinton's refusal to do the same could harm her chances among Democratic activists in Iowa and New Hampshire, where sentiment against the war runs high.
In the primary campaign, Clinton can be expected to emphasize her political experience — especially in contrast to Obama, who has been in the Senate barely more than two years, and Edwards, who quit the chamber after one term.
Clinton has established a reputation as a hardworking lawmaker. She secured a seat on the Senate Armed Services Committee and, in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, concentrated on domestic security issues. She also has sought better benefits for members of the military and focused on improving the economy of upstate New York.