Spinning in a Downward Spiral
Enter Clinton spinmeister Mark Penn:
She has consistently shown an electoral resiliency in difficult situations that have [sic] made her a winner... Senator Obama has in fact never had a serious Republican challenger.It's true that Obama won his Senate seat against carpetbagging Republican Alan "Crazy Eyes" Keyes after his much more formidable opponent, Jack Ryan, dropped out of the race amidst a sex scandal that surfaced during his divorce from Star Trek: Voyager actress Jeri Ryan.
That said, Penn's spin is a load of crap. Hillary has never faced a serious Republican challenger, either.
In 2000, Hillary was poised to run against former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was expected to make it a very tight race. In May of 2000, however, he was forced to drop his Senate bid after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. Oh, and because he had been very publicly cheating on his wife.
His replacement was a Long Island Republican named Rick Lazio who had little more going for him than the fact that he had an attractive wife and couple of cute kids, whom he shamelessly exploited in countless campaign ads touting his 'family values'. He gave it his all (one unintentionally hilarious NY Daily News headline read "Lazio Pitches Tent in Swing Country"), but Clinton, with her massive name recognition, steamrolled the relatively unknown Lazio, winning by a 12-point margin.
In 2006, Clinton was expected to face Jeanine Pirro, the ambitious and somewhat well-known Westchester County District Attorney. After a few months of lackluster campaigning, Pirro withdrew from the race, leaving the Republicans to offer up John Spencer, former mayor of Yonkers, as its sacrificial lamb. Clinton held on to her Senate seat by crushing Spencer with a 36-point margin.
Does Mark Penn consider either of these races to have been seriously contested? If he's an honest man, he couldn't possibly. So I suppose that leaves it an open question.