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Can Hillary survive email controversy?

JULIANNE MALVEAUX | 9/7/2015, 8:51 a.m.
If you had asked me just a year ago if former Secretary of State and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton would ...

(NNPA) – If you had asked me just a year ago if former Secretary of State and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton would be the Democratic nominee for president of the United States I’d have replied “no question.” I expected a near-coronation on the Democratic side, and a little rough-and-tumble on the Republican side.

Jeb Bush, I thought, would have a few competitors nipping at his heels, but the Chris Christies, Bobby Jindals and Scott Walkers of the world had ambition and followers, but nothing to top Bush. I thought this would be a legacy race and while I didn’t much like the déjà vu feeling about 2016, it seemed to be inevitable.

Now, the Republican nomination has turned into a reality television show, with feuds being played out on Twitter, and good sense is as likely to show up in these Republican gatherings as calculus is to be found in kindergarten. Now what promised to be a sleepy Democratic glide to the nomination has evolved into, if not a contest, at least a challenge for Clinton.

As Clinton has muddled her way through the State Department email drama, potential competitors have circled her like sharks circling blood in the water. It has taken her months to grudgingly admit her mistakes. If she was going to give the emails from her private server up with an apology for her bad judgment, why didn’t she do so in the beginning? As it is, she has raised all kinds of questions about her honesty, and allowed rabid Republicans to go after her with a vengeance.

A progressive Democrat was likely to jump into the race regardless of what Clinton said or did. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have pushed Clinton to the left with their rhetoric, and few could have predicted that Sanders would not only enter the race but also attract millions of both people and dollars to support him. While the super PACs funding Bush and Clinton are collecting six and seven figure checks, the average Sanders donor has given about $30 to his war chest.

There is blood in the water and Vice President Joe Biden is now considering vying for the presidency, and some see him as “insurance” in case Hillary implodes. The email drama should not sideline her from this race by itself, but weak showings in the early primaries, especially as she has already campaigned hard in Iowa and New Hampshire, will bruise her badly. Clinton supporters seem to think she has locked up much of the Democratic money, but with his long history in politics, and a group of loyal supporters, there may be more than a few pennies out there for Biden. And, if Clinton even appears to stumble, there may be millions out there for Biden.

Hillary Clinton has become a much better campaigner than she was in 2007 and 2008. She seems more approachable and friendly than she was then, although there are some members of the press who would say otherwise. We’ve seen much less of former President Bill Clinton on the trail so far than we did last time around, which is a good thing. Lots of people love Bill Clinton, but his presence often raises the question about who will be running the White House. In some ways, Hillary Clinton has all her ducks in a row, just like she and her supporters thought she did before President Barack Obama said he was running for president.