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Hillary Clinton Appears to be Unstoppable Force For 2016

Hillary Rodham Clinton Speaks At The University Of MiamiHillary Clinton appears to be an unstoppable force in 2016.

Even though the former senator and Secretary of State hasn’t yet announced whether she will run for president in 2016, Clinton destroys the rest of the field in a new presidential poll released by Quinnipiac University.

With the first task at hand, securing the Democratic nomination, Clinton is far ahead of all likely contenders: she was the choice of 58 percent of the respondents in the poll, with Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts a distant second at 11 percent, Vice President Biden at 9 percent and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo at 4 percent.

As far as her Republican challenger, the Quinnipiac poll of 1,446 registered voters nationwide (620 Republicans and 610 Democrats) had Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul leading the pack at 11 percent, barely edging out New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush with 10 percent each. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin all got 8 percent each, while Sen. Marco Rubio got 6 percent.

But in head-to-head match-ups, Clinton beats all comers: 47 – 38 percent over Christie; 49 – 40 percent over Paul; 49 – 40 percent over Huckabee; 48 – 41 percent over Jeb Bush; and 48 – 41 percent over Paul Ryan.

The gender gap is large in these match-ups: Clinton’s lead among women ranges from 16 percentage points to 19 points, while the margin among men in each race is too close to call.

“Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton takes a ton of heat on wealth, book sales and her legacy at the State Department, but she emerges with no serious Democratic challenger, while the Republican field remains clustered and flustered,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. 

The wealth he speaks of is the controversy that erupted last week when students at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where Clinton is scheduled to speak at a fundraiser in October, asked the former secretary of state to return her exorbitant $225,000 speaking fee back to the university. If she does not, the students said they would disrupt her speech with a protest.

But Clinton attempted to justify her lofty fee by telling ABC News that all of the money she’s made from colleges over the past year and a half has been donated to her family’s foundation.

“All of the fees have been donated to the Clinton Foundation for it to continue its life-changing and life-saving work. So it goes from a foundation at a university to another foundation,” Clinton said.

Clinton reportedly commands roughly $200,000 for each speaking engagement, though recent reports reveal she has made much more from some of the country’s top universities. She suggested to ABC that as she travels the country speaking, she is presenting new ideas to help strengthen the economy, which in turn, will help lower income inequality.

“It’s been my experience,” Clinton said, “That they’re not worried about my speaking or my household, they’re worried about their own. And that’s the kind of debate I think I’m furthering as I go around the country speaking.”

A May story in the liberal Mother Jones calculated that Clinton has made more than 90 speeches and notable appearances since she left the State Department more than a year ago, speaking to “private equity firms, investment banks, nonprofit galas, trade association conventions, and a slew of colleges and universities.” The magazine concluded that she has made close to $5 million for her speeches and appearances in the last 15 months. 

The magazine suggested that these speeches to the one percenters might present a problem for Clinton if she gets challenged from the left by someone like Sen. Warren.

“If somebody comes at her from the left, I certainly can imagine [private equity firm] Kohlberg Kravis Roberts being used against her as a battering ram,” Rutgers University political scientist Russ Baker says. “It plays into a narrative that almost anybody left of her would want to develop, that she’s basically part of the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party.”

But the speeches also help lay the groundwork for the massive fundraising effort she’ll need to mount if she runs in 2016, Common Cause policy counsel Steve Spaulding told Mother Jones.

“Here’s the problem: You and I, most of the people we know, there’s no way in hell we can afford to have Clinton come speak and spend time with us,” Campaign Legal Center’s Meredith McGehee told the magazine. “This speaking engagement game is a game that favors the wealthy interests, just like our campaign finance system.”

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