In case you'd forgotten about Hillary Clinton's maybe-I'm-not-but-I-definitely-am campaign for the presidency, a well-timed Super Bowl tweet was there to remind you. So was the pre-game interview between President Obama and Fox News' Bill O'Reilly. No wonder Democrats are worried about breathing room between now and 2016.
It’s so much more fun to watch FOX when it’s someone else being blitzed & sacked! #SuperBowl— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) February 3, 2014
It's not really a joke to call Clinton's tweet — which got tens of thousands of retweets and favorites — an ad. It was timed perfectly amidst the rest of the highly-considered tweets from other established brands, and had its intended effect immediately: wide distribution and accolades. JC Penney and Cheerios should be so lucky. The sports site SB Nation said Clinton "improbably sends the best Super Bowl tweet." There was nothing improbable about the tweet, anyway.
The Wall Street Journal reports that other Democrats are afraid Clinton's ability to demand attention will make it that much harder for them to do so. "There's no question that the Hillary movement is taking the oxygen out of the air for every other potential candidate," said former Bill Clinton staffer-turned-pundit David Gergen.
Over the short term, the concern is that Hillary's star power will vacuum out donors' wallets in advance of the 2014 midterms; over the longer term, the fear is that there will be no real Democratic primary process. Politico, looking at how likely 2016 candidates are setting up fundraising efforts, simply says, "Many of the biggest Democratic donors and top campaign operatives are aligning behind Hillary Clinton." Which is an understatement. The high-profile Priorities USA PAC, according to the Journal, is apparently so effective at getting commitments for a (possible) Clinton run that it's asking donors to space out contributions so that 2014 fundraising isn't affected.
@HillaryClinton I know of 4 guys in Benghazi that got "blitzed", it's too bad you weren't sacked for that.— GOPMommy (@GOPMommy) February 3, 2014
Shortly before the Super Bowl aired, Obama sat down with O'Reilly to discuss all of 2013's hottest topics: the IRS targeting Tea Paty groups, the Healthcare.gov website, and, of course, Benghazi. At The Hill, Juan Williams points out the obvious: the debate over Benghazi is a debate over 2016, and it is a debate over Hillary Clinton's role at the State Department. "The GOP is frantic to keep Clinton within reach as just one more generic Democrat," Williams writes, with only a bit of hyperbole. And: "The Benghazi story is their best hope, though a very thin one." As Obama said to O'Reilly — again with only a bit of hyperbole — things like Benghazi "keep on surfacing in part because you and your TV station will promote them." Expect Benghazi to stay near the surface — as the response to Clinton's tweet made clear.
Pity poor Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who, as Gergen says, might be "the kind of candidate who in ordinary times might attract very positive press attention," but who — for many reasons — is now invisible in Clinton's shadow. O'Malley told The Washington Post that he was setting up his 2016 operation, because he wasn't going to wait for Clinton to make up her mind about running. Oh, poor Martin. She's running. Aren't you on Twitter?