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Can't Stop Thinking About Hillary

Reported by Judy - February 23, 2005

Fox News can't stop thinking about a Hillary Clinton presidential run in 2008, to the point that Wednesday it used two polls that never mentioned the New York Democrat to promote a hypothetical match-up with Republican Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.

Heather Nauert promoted her piece on The Big Story with John Gibson with a tag line of "Hillary vs. Condi" and by asking, "Could there be a Hillary vs. Condi campaign in the making? Americans suggest that we are actually ready for a woman president in 2008." Her actual story, however, concerned neither woman, dealing only with public openness to voting for women presidential candidates.

An Opinion Dynamics poll for Fox News found 63 percent of Democrats and 48 percent of Republicans said they believe the U.S. is ready to elect a woman president. A poll by Siena Research Institute found 81 percent of those polled said they would vote for a woman for president. (The polls are hard to compare because the Fox News poll did not show a combined total, did not include numbers for independents, and asked a slightly different question. The Fox poll was taken January 25-26 and the Siena was Feb. 10-17.) Nauert concluded that the Fox poll shows a "strong belief" that Clinton will be on the ticket in 2008.

Despite the absense of either Clinton or Rice's names in the questions, John Gibson introduced the segment by saying that "Americans may be looking for the former First Lady to square off with the new Secretary of State."

Marie Wilson, president of the White House Project at Siena Research Institute, said Democratic support may be higher because Clinton's name has been mentioned and respondents have someone to connect with the issue, while Republicans, except for recent mentions of Rice's name, have been without a prominent woman presidential prospect the last few years.

Wilson said the poll shows the public may be warming up to the idea of a woman as commander-in-chief, even in war-time, due to more women in the military, women serving as secretaries of state under both President Clinton and George Bush, and the realization that national security involves more than use of military might.

While Wilson predicted a woman will be on a major party ticket in 2008, there was little else in the segment to justify its promotion as "Hillary vs. Condi" in 2008.

Fox News, of course, is salivating at the prospects of savaging Senator Clinton the same way they did John Kerry in 2004. Fox News also, however, may be sensing that the public is ready for a woman president and keeps throwing out Rice's name to boost her candidacy.

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