Clinton in campaign command after 'quite a week'
It's been a great week for Hillary Clinton, AFP reports.
First, Democratic rival Joe Biden abandoned his presidential dreams. Then she emerged unscathed from a marathon congressional grilling over the 2012 Benghazi attacks that threatened to sabotage her campaign -- but now looks to be a boost.
Throw in her star turn at the first Democratic debate 10 days ago, when she gave a command performance and received a political gift by rival Bernie Sanders who declared America has heard enough about her "damn emails," and Clinton appears to be on a glide path to the party's presidential nomination.
In addition to the vice president opting out, low-polling candidates Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee also stepped aside this week, and Clinton has seen her poll average surge seven points in October, after a months-long slide.
Adding to the bounty, on Friday she earned the endorsement of AFSCME, a 1.6-million-member labor union.
The bouquet of political successes came as welcome relief for the former secretary of state aiming to become America's first female commander-in-chief, and she appeared to exult in her decidedly improved position Friday.
"Whoa," she exclaimed as she received a hero's welcome at a women's leadership forum in Washington.
"It's been quite a week, hasn't it?"
No question. Even her one-time rivals see the writing on the wall, with Chafee using the same forum to announce he was quitting the race.
"There is no one left," said David Parker, a professor of American politics at Montana State University, dismissing democratic socialist Sanders as unelectable and former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley as failing to gain any traction.
"There is no doubt in my mind that Clinton will be the nominee," he told AFP.
President Barack Obama's first secretary of state topped off her wonder week by basking in the warmth of a receptive crowd at a rally outside Washington, brimming with renewed confidence.
"A lot of things have been said about me but 'quitter' isn't one of them," she said, after highlighting her 11-hour testimony the previous day.
And she stressed that her campaign -- while acknowledging the successes of Democratic predecessors -- was all about the future.
"I'm not running for President Obama's third term, I'm not running for Bill Clinton's third term. I'm running for my first term!" she said to a loud roar.
Her campaign team wasted no time pushing the post-Benghazi-hearing narrative of Clinton the "fighter."
"Republicans and others have tried to test her and Hillary Clinton is battle-ready," spokesman Brian Fallon told reporters.
Ripping a page from husband president Bill's never-say-die playbook, Clinton -- who led Obama early in their 2008 rivalry only to see him snatch the nomination -- may be proving that she too can be the comeback kid.
Just a few weeks ago, her poll numbers were worryingly low -- she was tied with Sanders in Iowa, the state that votes first in the 2016 primary race, and trailing him by double digits in New Hampshire, which votes second.
Bill Clinton suffered early voter rejection in 1992, losing 10 of the first 11 primaries before turning things around to win the nomination and then complete a stunning upset over incumbent president George H.W. Bush.
Hillary Clinton, 67, appears to be repairing damage before the first primary votes. She has closed the Sanders gap in New Hampshire and, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Friday, has opened an 11-point lead over Sanders in Iowa.
She is riding high after her performance Thursday, when House Republicans interrogated her over her role in responding to the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya that left four Americans dead.
Clinton maintained her cool and emerged unscathed -- to the relief of Democrats at the Virginia rally.
"I agree that it was kind of a rough summer, but she's kind of coming back. She appeared very presidential," said Jeremy Dickie, 24, who works for a non-profit in Washington.
Some Republicans even conceded that Clinton had performed admirably.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, running near the back of the Republican presidential pack, panned lawmakers as "ineffective" at dinging Clinton.
"She helped herself yesterday. They didn't uncover anything new," he told Fox News.