Barring a late surge from Bernie Sanders, the next Republican nominee is sure to confront questions about Hillary Clinton's experience. Marco Rubio, for example, was asked during Tuesday night's GOP debate why voters should trust him over an opposing candidate (Clinton) with such "an impressive resume."
It was a softball question. Instead of answering it, though, Rubio fell into stump speech rhetoric, mentioning Clinton only in passing:
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Well, that’s a great question, and let me begin by answering it.
This election is about the future, about what kind of country this nation is gonna be in the 21st century. This next election is actually a generational choice. A choice about what kind of nation we will be in the 21st century.
For over 2.5 centuries, America’s been a special country, the one place on earth where anyone from anywhere can achieve anything, a nation that’s been a force for good on this planet.
But now, a growing number of Americans feel out of place in their own country. We have a society that stigmatizes those that hold cultural values that are traditional.
We have a society where people — millions of people — are living paycheck to paycheck. They’re working as hard as they ever have, but they’re living paycheck to paycheck because the economy has changed underneath their feet.
We have young Americans who owe thousands of dollars in student loans for a degree that doesn’t lead to a job. For the first time in 35 years, we have more businesses dying than starting, and around the world, every day brings news of a new humiliation for America — many the direct response — direct consequence of decisions made when Hillary Clinton was the secretary of the — of state.
And so here’s the truth: this election is about the future, and the Democratic Party, and the political left has no ideas about the future. All their ideas are the same, tired ideas of the past. More government, more spending. For every issue for America, their answer is a new tax on someone, and a new government program. This nation is going to turn the page, and that’s what this election should be about, and, as I said at the first debate. If I am our nominee, they will be the party of the past, we will be the party of the 21st century.
Senator Barack Obama dealt with similar questions in 2008, and Republicans can learn from how he answered them. For example, in this clip from one of the Democratic primary debates, Obama made a simple argument for why Hillary's "experience," particularly in terms of foreign policy, wasn't all it's stacked up to be:
Well, Senator Clinton, I think, equates experience with longevity in Washington. I don't think the American people do and I don't think that if you look at the judgments that we've made over the last several years, that that's the accurate measure.
Obama also took aim at another highly touted aspect of Hillary's resume—her eight years as first lady—by pointing out the absurdity of claiming credit for all the popular acheivements of the Clinton administration, while denying blame for the unpopular achievements. (Note: She hasn't stopped doing this.)
Well, I think what is absolutely true is that when Senator Clinton continually talks about her experience, she's including the eight years that she served as first lady and often says, "You know, here's what I did, here's what we did, here's what we accomplished," which is fine.
And I have not in any way said that that experience is not relevant, and I don't begrudge her claiming that as experience.
What I've said — and what I would continue to maintain — is you can't take credit for all the good things that happen but then, when it comes to issues like NAFTA, you say, "Well, behind the scenes, I was disagreeing.
That doesn't work. So you have to, I think, take both responsibility, as well as credit."
Ted Cruz actually did a pretty good job channeling 2008 Obama when he jumped in after Rubio's answer:
[Hillary's] got a lot of experience, but her policies have proven disastrous. If you look at foreign policy, every region in the world has gotten worse. Under her leadership, we abandon the nation of Israel. Under her leadership, radical Islamic terrorism has been on to the rise. Under her leadership, and Obama’s leadership, Iran is getting $100 billion dollars, and on the verge of getting a nuclear weapon.
Everything she’s put her hand to, or has touched — and when we talk about the cronyism of Washington, Hillary Clinton embodies the cronyism of Washington. And, I’ll give you an example of that, which is the Congressional exemption from Obamacare, which is fundamentally wrong, and I’ll tell you this, if I’m elected president, I will veto any statute that exempts members of congress. The law should apply evenly to every American.