WASHINGTON – Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton will seek a second term in 2006, her aides said Wednesday, but a White House run two years after that isn’t something New York’s junior senator is “even thinking about.”
Howard Wolfson, a Clinton spokesman, said the senator is gearing up for re-election to the Senate by raising money and assembling her campaign team.
“I think that her poll numbers are strong and she’ll raise the money she needs to be in very good shape heading into her re-election bid,” Wolfson said.
Without a “top tier” Republican challenger such as Gov. George Pataki or former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Clinton is a virtual shoo-in for re-election, said pollster John Zogby. And even then, he said, she’d be hard to beat.
“She’s persuaded a lot of people to like her,” said Zogby. “She’s paid attention to local people and local issues, and that’s paid off.”
He said a successful re-election would likely give Clinton momentum going into a potential presidential campaign in 2008, and affords her the opportunity to refine her campaign skills.
Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University poll, said Republicans will likely do everything they can in 2006 to thwart Clinton’s quest for the Democratic presidential nomination, which he said polling at this point indicates is hers for the taking.
“I can’t believe they’ll give her a pass like (Sen. Charles) Schumer,” Carroll said referring to the New York senior senator’s steamrolling earlier this month of Republican Howard Mills, who had token GOP support.
“The Republicans have got to be thinking if we can knock her off in 2006, we don’t have to worry about her in 2008,” he said.
Carroll said he expected Republicans from all over the country to do everything they can to “beat her if they can, or beat her up if they can’t.”