Hillary Clinton in Hiding

Eric Gay / Associated Press
Washington, DC

Hillary Clinton may think she has all the time in the world before officially declaring her candidacy for the Democrat nomination. But not everyone agrees with her, including many Democrats.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

In Iowa, which holds the nation’s first presidential nominating contest, local Democratic leaders caution that Mrs. Clinton risks a backlash if she postpones her announcement too long. Linda Nelson, who leads the Pottawattamie County Democrats, said: “I’ve heard folks who are disgruntled. They’re starting to think: ‘Well, if she’s not going to announce any time soon, I may just start looking elsewhere.’”

Her basic absence from the public eye has led to the GOP beginning to brand her as Hillary in hiding: “The Republican National Committee is seeking to capitalize on Mrs. Clinton’s absence from the campaign so far, dubbing her the ‘candidate-in-hiding.'”

But her real problem is with Democrats, including potential donors reluctant to jump in before she does. And then there’s the candidate factor. Truth be told, Mrs. Clinton was not a standout as a candidate, especially early on; that’s a large part of the reason why Barack Obama was able to beat her. It’s one thing to stay out of the way while a crowded GOP field fights amongst itself. But along with that, she’s also not getting back to what she’s ultimately going to have to be able to do well for a long, difficult slog through a general election:

Some Democrats worry that if Mrs. Clinton coasts to the nomination without much of a fight, she might be rusty when she squares off against her Republican opponent in debates. “You wouldn’t want the first significant televised debate to be against a Republican opponent,” said Douglas Goldman of San Francisco, a longtime Democratic donor.

Some fundraisers backing Mrs. Clinton say it is tougher to draw large financial commitments from donors until Mrs. Clinton formally jumps in.

If Clinton comes out too late and too rusty, a bad misstep or two in front of a nation already skeptical of the type of progressive policies Clinton’s going to have to embrace to engage her base, and her march to the White House could be over well before November 2016:

One Clinton fundraiser, noting Bill Clinton’s penchant for showing up late for public appearances, said: “Clinton things happen late. That’s the way it goes. The Clintons are both going to show up at their funerals late.”

Some Democrats, meanwhile, are wondering: When will their front-runner join the contest?

Hillary Clinton is all but certain to seek her party’s nomination, and there are no signs she will have a serious challenge. But there is some drama—and tension among Democrats—surrounding her timetable.