Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been taking her hits recently for crying poor when she and her husband Bill left the White House in 2001 and for charging colleges and universities sky-high speaking fees. Yet none of this negative publicity appears to have hurt her standing as the unparalleled candidate for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.
New NBC News/Marist polls of voters in the key early battleground states of Iowa and New Hampshire show Clinton as virtually untouchable in the Democratic sweepstakes: In a hypothetical matchup with Vice President Joe Biden, she wins 70 percent to 20 percent in Iowa and 74 percent to 18 percent in New Hampshire.
What’s more, Clinton’s overall popularity in those two states is breathtakingly high at a time when President Obama and members of Congress are saddled with record low approval ratings. Iowans view Hillary positively by a margin of 89 percent to 6 percent – and New Hampshire Democrats are even giddier about her, favoring her by a margin of 94 percent to 4 percent, according to the new polls.
While the Democratic nomination appears to be Clinton’s for the asking, there is some sobering news for the former First Lady and U.S. Senator from New York as support builds for her almost certain run.
In Iowa, the scene of the first nominating caucuses of the presidential season, Clinton is tied with Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky in a hypothetical matchup, 45 percent to 45 percent – while she leads Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie by just one point, 44 percent to 43 percent.
Clinton holds more substantial leads over former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, 46 percent to 42 percent; Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, 49 percent to 40 percent; and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, 49 percent to 37 percent.
Clinton does better in hypothetical general election matchups in New Hampshire, the premier primary state. In a clash with Sen. Paul, Clinton prevails 46 percent to 43 percent, while she beats both Christie and Bush by five points, 47 percent to 42 percent, and Cruz by 13 points, 51 percent to 38 percent.
Clinton has generated a spate of bad coverage recently about the huge fees that she and husband Bill Clinton have collected for their speeches after she told ABC’s Diane Sawyer last month that the couple left the White House “not only dead broke, but in debt.” By one estimate, she’s charged nine universities and colleges – including five public institutions – a total of at least $2 million in speaking fees over the past year.
The latest disclosure was that the University of Buffalo, the largest campus in the State University of New York system, paid Clinton $275,000 to appear at an event last year, The Washington Post reported yesterday. The Post says the university agreed as part of a contract to provide “a presidential glass panel teleprompter and a qualified operator,” and that Clinton’s office had “final approval” of who would introduce her and the moderator of any follow-up questions and answers.
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