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Clinton Returns To New Hampshire, Site Of 2008 Comeback

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

For more insight on the presidential race and other happenings in politics, we're joined now, as we are most Mondays, by Cokie Roberts. Good morning.

COKIE ROBERTS, BYLINE: Hi, Renee.

MONTAGNE: So we have just heard from former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley that he might challenge Hillary Clinton in the primaries, but he kind of held back from really going after her. What is your take on that whole conversation?

ROBERTS: Nobody really wants to take on Hillary Clinton because she's such a dominant force in the Democratic Party right now. So there's some sense that anybody who's talking about running against her really wants to run as her vice president or at least be in the Cabinet or be there in case of disaster, which could mean almost anything.

Mrs. Clinton is scheduled to be in New Hampshire today after a week in Iowa. She's heading to New Hampshire, where she already has 19 paid staff members, and there are a lot of new voters there since she was there in 2008. But it is the state where she made her big comeback after a Iowa disaster in 2008, and she made her comeback mainly, Renee, because we really did see her in a genuine moment there. And that's what she's trying to do in this campaign is to show herself as a real person. It's somewhat hard for her to do after being in the public eye for so long. But she's trying to make this all about you, not me, as opposed to her last campaign. We'll see if it works.

MONTAGNE: Yeah, and I think at that genuine moment, Hillary Clinton, you know, teared up, showed emotion...

ROBERTS: Right, right.

MONTAGNE: ...There in New Hampshire. The people who are ready to make it about her are Clinton's potential Republican rivals. Nineteen of them were in New Hampshire this weekend, and they spent most of their time attacking Hillary Clinton. How's that working for them?

ROBERTS: Their theme, one and all, was that Hillary Clinton would be four more years of Barack Obama. But they can't keep doing that. They have to differentiate themselves among themselves. And the big problem for them and for the country in a way is that the way they're mostly likely to do that is in the United States Senate since so many of them are in the United States Senate, and then that becomes disruptive in that body because, you know, it doesn't work well to run for president saying, I voted for that bill before I voted against it, as John Kerry famously did, because legislation gets complicated. And when you're dealing with legislation, you know, you have to then explain it as opposed to the bright lines that you like to draw when you're running for president. And so I think that, you know, they are likely to make the Senate a harder place to get things done, even though we're seeing of late a Senate where things are actually getting done. This presidential campaign is likely to disrupt that.

MONTAGNE: Well, speaking of that, we have indeed seen a burst of bipartisanship in Congress over just these last few weeks. What do you think about that? I mean, also, how long can it last?

ROBERTS: Well, we really are. I mean, we've seen a unanimous committee report on Iran. You've seen the so-called doc fix on Medicare where both Houses have voted and president signed a bill to fix that. Education bill has come out of the Senate committee in a bipartisan fashion, trade and now the Republican leaders are saying that this week, they're likely to finally confirm Loretta Lynch as attorney general. The Democrats have not signed onto a deal there yet, but it looks like that's happening, too.

Like, the Republican leaders want to show that they can govern, and now they have both Houses of Congress and they need to make that clear. They also think that will make it easier to elect a Republican president, which they very much want to see happen so that the Democrats can't run against the do-nothing obstructionist Republican Congress. That becomes a problem for the Democrats because they want to run that kind of campaign, and as you saw President Obama at the end of last week attacking the Congress on Loretta Lynch because he wants to make it easier for his successor to be a Democrat.

MONTAGNE: Thank you. Cokie Roberts join us most Mondays. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.