Republican strategists plotting their party's comeback after it lost control of Congress have identified the "first lady" of Democrat politics as a key target in the 2008 White House campaign — even though she will not be running.
Senior party operatives told The Sunday Telegraph that they are already co-ordinating plans to attack Nancy Pelosi, the liberal Californian congresswoman and Speaker-in-waiting who suffered a damaging rebuff from her own party caucus last week.
The Republican strategy is not only to undermine Mrs Pelosi's control of the House but also to associate her in voters' minds with Senator Hillary Clinton, the frontrunner for the 2008 Democrat presidential nomination.
"Two years of Pelosi gives a good idea of what four years of Hillary will be like," said Tom DeLay, the Republican powerbroker who ran his party in the House before he was caught up in a lobbyist corruption scandal. "They are both committed liberals and we will make that clear to the American people."
Tony Coehlo, a former Democrat whip in the House who ran Vice President Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign, acknowledged his party concerns. "Even seasoned Democrats are concerned about the Republicans' ability to tar the polished Hillary by attacking Mrs Pelosi," he told The Sunday Telegraph.
"If Nancy does poorly, that hurts Hillary. That's really unfair, but that's what everyone thinks. That's reality. To help Hillary, Nancy has to be perceived as an effective leader and she's had a terrible start. It was just an awful first week."
A senior Republican operative who planned the damaging advertisements against Sen John Kerry, the Democrats' presidential candidate in 2004, predicted that it would not be easy to turn Mrs Pelosi into a surrogate target for Mrs Clinton.
"If Hillary has been able to separate herself from criticisms of her own husband, she'll try to do the same with Pelosi," he said. "She and her people are very smart and they will try to highlight the difference between the two women. You will see Hillary move more to the centre."
Monday, November 20, 2006
"Republicans plot to bring down Pelosi ... and Clinton with her"