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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton laughs before delivering remarks on American leadership at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington January 31, 2013. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Scratch the surface of a gathering of Republican operatives and you'll find some serious fear (you don't have to scratch the surface to find loathing). Fear, specifically, of Hillary Clinton. Time's Zeke Miller went to the Republican National Committee's spring meeting and found "more than two dozen operatives and officials [who] expressed worry that none of their party’s potential 2016 candidates can take her down."

One held out some hope based on the 2008 primaries:

“I hope she picks Mark Penn”–her longtime pollster and close advisor–”to run her campaign again,” said one swing-state state chair who was loath to share his defeatist attitude publicly. “Because even some Republicans will give her a second chance.”
But others don't seem to think even Mark Penn can help Republicans to victory:
One early primary state RNC member put it simply: “If she gets in, we’re toast.” [...]

And one former Romney aide here warned that grassroots activists pushing for an even more conservative GOP identity could seal the party’s fate: “If we listen to some of the people here and come back with a hardline conservative in 2016, she’ll wipe the floor with us.”

It's early yet and things can always change, but given all the Republican rebranding fail going on here lately, they have good reason to worry. In general. When it comes to Hillary Clinton, fear is the right emotion.

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Fri Apr 12, 2013 at 08:58 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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