Panic Button

By Philip Rucker and Paul Kane
March 11, 2015 at 7:38 PM

Senior Democrats are increasingly worried that Hillary Rodham Clinton is not ready to run for president, fearing that the clumsy and insular handling of the nine-day fracas over her private e-mails was a warning sign about the campaign expected to launch next month.

Few Democrats believe that the revelations about her un­or­tho­dox e-mail practices as secretary of state are a substantive issue that would damage Clinton with voters, and many said she performed adequately in a Tuesday news conference defending herself.

But in interviews Wednesday with The Washington Post, current and former Democratic officeholders and operatives from across the country raised serious questions about her and her political team’s strength and readiness for a 2016 presidential campaign.

“She’s tried to put the day of reckoning off, but it’s come now, and I don’t think she can stand another couple of weeks of this without her structure in place,” said Jim Hodges, a former governor of South Carolina.
“Had this story been responded to in two or three days instead of in eight days, it would not be as big,” said Robert Gibbs, a former White House press secretary under President Obama. (David Goldman/AP)

Some Democrats said Clinton’s initial refusal to provide answers in the growing e-mail controversy smacked of arrogance and a worrisome bunker mentality — and that the controversy was a self-inflicted wound.

“Had this story been responded to in two or three days instead of in eight days, it would not be as big,” said Robert Gibbs, a former White House press secretary under President Obama. “They are the ones who put air in this balloon in a way that was not necessary at all. . . . It’s clear they lack an apparatus. She’s a candidate without a campaign.”

A Clinton spokesman did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

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