By Robert Costa
April 11, 2015
The deluge of derision this weekend from Republicans responding to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential launch is the start of a highly coordinated effort by national GOP leaders and conservative groups to effectively begin the general-election campaign against the likely Democratic nominee.
Acknowledging Clinton’s political strength, many Republican officials and strategists on the right are determined to get a head start on attacking her record as secretary of state and highlighting what they see as her vulnerabilities, almost ignoring her lesser-known rivals.
The early onslaught — a battery of opposition research, snarky videos and even an upcoming feature film — reflects Republicans’ desire to use a common opponent to unite their ranks, which have fractured as the GOP has stumbled in the past two presidential elections.
Clinton’s 2016 Republican challengers, some appearing Friday at the National Rifle Association’s convention in Tennessee, also assailed the Democratic front-runner in speeches and interviews ahead of her entry, which her advisers said would come Sunday with a low-key rollout.
The barrage has a familiar feel. More than 14 years after Bill Clinton left the White House, Republicans are stepping back onto a battlefield in which they have toiled for decades, reviving Clinton controversies old and new as they seek to counter the formal return of a longtime adversary to presidential politics.
Reince Priebus, the combative chairman of the Republican National Committee who has become the party’s most prominent Clinton critic, is leading the blitz. In recent days, the RNC has heavily promoted its “Stop Hillary” initiative with a Web ad that raises questions about foreign donations to her family’s foundation and her use of a private e-mail account at the State Department.
Priebus — who habitually describes Clinton as a cold, Nixonian liberal millionaire — has approved a six-figure advertising campaign targeting voters in swing states, according to Allison Moore, a spokeswoman for the RNC.
But a galaxy of other conservative power brokers, rabble-rousers and advocacy organizations is involved, including right-wing Web sites and super PACs that can accept millions of dollars, without limits, from the party’s biggest donors.
GOP consultant Roger J. Stone, in an interview Saturday, said he is finishing a book — tentatively titled “The Clintons’ War on Women” and expected out this summer — about the Clintons’ handling of episodes that have clouded Bill Clinton’s personal life.
David N. Bossie, president of Citizens United, is in pre-production on a sequel to “Hillary: The Movie,” an anti-Clinton film that was released before the 2008 campaign, when Hillary Clinton first sought the presidency. It was not a box office hit but led to the landmark Supreme Court case on campaign finance, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
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