Hillary Clinton was the subject that consumed the political talk shows, as questions continued to be raised about Karl Rove’s comments regarding her health.
While Republicans attacked the noncandidate, Democrats defended her but also expressed concern over her strategy so far in advance of the next presidential election.
If you missed the Sunday political talk shows, we’ll get you up to speed on the latest events and opinion in Washington with this comprehensive roundup of all things political:
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Hillary Clinton: It’s widely accepted that it hasn’t been a good couple of weeks for Hillary Clinton. She is being attacked by Republicans over various foreign policy problems, including Benghazi and Boko Haram; her approval ratings are sliding, Monica Lewinsky spoke out, and Bill Clinton’s vocal defense could be making things worse.
And now some Democrats are questioning aspects of her strategy.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said he is concerned about the “inevitability” factor with a potential Clinton nomination.
“I do worry about the inevitability thing,” Patrick said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” adding that it’s “off-putting to the … average voter.”
“I think that was an element of her campaign the last time,” he said, without having to specify how that turned out (Barack Obama won). “I just hope that the people around her pay attention to that this time around.”
Clinton said she was going to take it easy and catch up on her sleep after she stepped down as secretary of state last year, but she took little downtime and immediately turned to writing a book, “Hard Choices,” that is to be released next month. She has also been traveling the country to make paid speeches, stoking speculation that she is strategically plotting a presidential run.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, expressed concerns similar to Patrick’s.
“I did talk with her and thought it would be better that she not get out there early, because her favorability was so high, that all that could happen in this is go down,” Feinstein said on “State of the Union.”
Feinstein was right. Clinton’s approval rating has slipped.
California Gov. Jerry Brown, who is dealing with severe wildfires in his state, said on ABC’s “This Week” that while Clinton is the “overwhelming favorite” for the Democrats in 2016, front-runner status comes with challenges.
“Being a front-runner is being on a perch that everyone else is going to try to knock you off of,” he said on ABC’s “This Week,” adding that Clinton needs to be “wise” on how she proceeds.
Feinstein, however, is still a fan. She said Republican strategist Karl Rove’s public speculation that Clinton might have brain damage is “pathetic.”
“She’s in the prime of her political life,” Feinstein said.
On “Fox News Sunday,” Rove said the Clintons are hypocritical for crying foul.
“I love President Clinton’s comments the other day,” Rove said. “Let’s remember, this is a guy who ran for office savaging Bob Dole.”
“I love being lectured by Bill Clinton,” Rove said sarcastically.
Bill Clinton didn’t necessarily lecture Rove, but he did defend his wife last week, saying she is “strong.” But the former president might have made the situation worse for his wife by saying she had a “terrible” concussion that took six months to get over. That is the first time anyone from her team has said it was a six-month recovery.
“Karl Rove is struggling to be relevant,” Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri shot back on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” calling the former Bush adviser’s super PAC, which spent more than $175 million trying to elect Republican Mitt Romney, an “abject failure.”
McCaskill - who has had a complicated relationship with Hillary Clinton ever since the 2008 campaign, when she backed Clinton’s challenger, then-Sen. Barack Obama - called Rove’s remarks “a cheap political shot.”
While the Rove talking point was a central point of discussion, Republicans on the talk shows didn’t jump to defend him.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-Independent, said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” that Rove’s remarks were “outrageous and over the pale.”
On Fox, former Vice President Dick Cheney - who has had severe health problems, including five heart attacks - didn’t question Clinton’s health but said, “Any presidential candidate … is going to have to answer questions about their health.”
Cheney’s take was similar to the one by Reince Priebus, head of the Republican National Committee, but neither refused an opportunity to criticize Clinton - which brings us to Benghazi.
Benghazi: “I think she clearly bears responsibility for whatever the State Department did or didn’t know about it,” Cheney said about Clinton and the 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. “I do think it’s a major issue. I don’t think we’ve heard the last of it yet.”
Priebus said Clinton’s health isn’t an issue for him, but that she “is trying to sweep Benghazi under the rug.”
Democrats, who have dismissed Republicans’ ongoing attempts to find more damaging information on Benghazi, played down the GOP’s criticisms again.
McCaskill again defended Clinton with a huge compliment - perhaps a public attempt at mending their relationship with a slight against Obama: “She has got the strongest resume for president of anyone who had run in a very long time.”
Feinstein said the special committee on Benghazi launched by House Republicans is “ridiculous.”
“It’s a hunting mission for a lynch mob,” she said on “State of the Union.” She pointed to the previous four reports, numerous hearings, and thousand-page document reviews as proof that there is nothing left to uncover.
But Republicans know that keeping Benghazi in the spotlight could, at best, peel away at Clinton’s favorability and, at worst, implicate her for her role. Given that, Priebus was out with a bold prediction: “Given the month she just had, I actually doubt very much whether she actually will run for president in 2016.”
The VA: Amid the growing scandal about wait times and care at veterans' hospitals, President Obama's chief of staff, Dennis McDonough, said the President is "madder than hell and I have got the scars to prove it."
But the head of the Veterans Affairs Department, Eric Shinseki, received tepid support.
Dr. Samuel Foote, the retired VA doctor who first spoke to CNN about this story, said on “Fox News Sunday” that firing Shinseki wouldn’t solve much.
“It we switch secretaries then the focus will get away from fixing the problem to who the new secretary’s going to be. And then he’ll have three- or six-month or a nine-month grace period because he’s the new guy,” Foote said. “Our best bet at this point is to keep the (current) secretary on board, but I think the President needs to keep him on a pretty short leash and be sure that he's doing the job."
Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger had a different take, saying Shinseki should go. “We need to get somebody there … that knows how to fix the problem,” he said.
Offering assurance that Shinseki will keep his job – for now – McDonough said on CBS News' "Face the Nation" that the VA head will "continue to work these issues until they're fixed."
Kicker: Feinstein said her relationship with the CIA isn’t any better since she publicized the feud between the agency and her oversight committee over alleged spying on her staff’s computers.
“I’m not there to be the most popular person in any building,” she said. “When there’s something going on that shouldn’t be, we do something about it.”