U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is in the midst of a major campaign reset, hoping voters will turn the page on an email controversy that has raised questions about her credibility and dogged her White House hopes for months.
In an interview with ABC News anchor David Muir, Clinton indicated she now regrets her use of the private email account during her time as President Barack Obama’s secretary of state.
“I should have used two accounts — one for personal and one for work-related emails. That was a mistake. I’m sorry about that. I take responsibility and I’m trying to be as transparent as I possibly can,” she said.
Clinton made similar comments for a taping of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, where she also spoke about her attempt to become the first U.S. woman president, and at one point joined Ellen on stage to dance.
All of this is part of a campaign reboot that intends to show a more authentic, less aloof candidate, who has watched her poll ratings drop in recent months on issues like trustworthiness and credibility.
Biden mulls bid
The attempt at refashioning Clinton’s image comes as pressure mounts on Vice President Joe Biden to enter the 2016 presidential race, even as Clinton tries to fight off a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
Biden was urged on by a large Labor Day crowd in Pittsburgh where several attendees urged him to run. Biden continues to mourn the loss of his son Beau, however, who died last May. Biden told a crowd in Atlanta recently that he remains undecided about another campaign.
“Unless I can go to my party and the American people and say that I am able to devote my whole heart and my whole soul to this endeavor, it would not be appropriate,” he said.
Sanders surges, but doubts persist
Biden’s late entrance into the race would complicate matters for Clinton, who until now has been focused on Sanders.
Sanders continues to draw large, enthusiastic crowds with an economic pitch that resonates with the kind of liberal Democrats who make up large chunks of voters in the early contest states of Iowa and New Hampshire.
“Enough is enough. We need an economy for working families, not just for billionaires,” Sanders told a crowd in New Hampshire recently.
The latest polls show that Sanders has widened his lead over Clinton to nine points in New Hampshire and pulled closer to her in Iowa.
Even with Sanders surging and a possible Biden bid in the offing, many Democrats are unconvinced that any Democrat can actually deny Clinton the nomination at this point, said analyst Stuart Rothenberg of the “Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report.”
“She [Clinton] has not handled these recent controversies very well,” said Rothenberg. “I think it will be hard for anybody to peel off core supporters from Hillary Clinton. But I am willing to agree that Joe Biden has the potential to do that where Bernie Sanders doesn’t.”
Fodder for Republicans
Clinton’s email troubles and upcoming testimony before a special congressional committee looking at the 2012 terrorist attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya — which killed four Americans — have given Republican presidential contenders some talking points, said Josh Kraushaar of National Journal’s Hotline.
“She is looking more vulnerable as the Democratic frontrunner and Republicans are smelling blood in the water, and you are hearing her name come up more and more as their expected opponent,” he said.
Clinton’s quest to become the first woman president also remains a powerful rallying cry for Democratic women, according to Rothenberg.
“But [for] core Democratic groups, she would be the first woman presidential nominee for a major party. She would be the first woman president of the United States. That is still really important to Democrats.”
The first debate among Democratic contenders is set for October 13 and it remains unclear whether Joe Biden will be one of them.
The looming debate deadline, though, might force the vice president to decide whether he wants to make a third try for the presidency, having failed in both 1988 and 2008.