RNC chair on Hillary: 'I actually doubt very much whether she actually will run'

Dylan Stableford, Yahoo News
Yahoo News
Annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Held In D.C.
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NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - MARCH 08: Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, speaks on a panel during the 41st annual Conservative Political Action Conference at the Gaylord International Hotel and Conference Center on March 8, 2014 in National Harbor, Maryland. The conference, a project of the American Conservative Union, brings together conservatives polticians, pundits and voters for three days of speeches and workshops. (Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images)

In what many political observers would say is wishful thinking, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus said on Sunday that he doesn't believe Hillary Clinton will run for president in 2016.

"Given the month she just had, I actually doubt very much whether she actually will run for president in 2016," Priebus said on "Meet The Press." "I know a lot of people around her want her to run. And I think that they're purposely creating this environment [of inevitability] around her."

Priebus said he believes questions surrounding Clinton's health recently raised by Republican strategist Karl Rove, coupled with lingering questions about the attacks in Benghazi and her record as secretary of state, will make her think twice about running for president.

"I don't think there's a graceful way to bring up age, health, and fitness for a candidate that wants to be president of the United States," Priebus said. "I think the more important issue for me, as leader of this party, is, what's the record of Hillary Clinton? What was her record as a secretary of state? Benghazi, Boko Haram, Syria, Russia. Those are going to be the issues that I believe will cause her to rethink whether she actually wants to run for president.

"She is trying to sweep Benghazi under the rug," Priebus continued. "She absolutely is. And if you want any evidence of that, ask the families of people who lost their sons in Benghazi. They've talked plenty about what happened in Benghazi."

During a panel discussion earlier this month, Rove suggested the fall and subsequent blood clot Clinton suffered in 2012 may have caused a brain injury.

“Thirty days in the hospital? And when she reappears, she’s wearing glasses that are only for people who have traumatic brain injury?" Rove said at the May 8 event. "We need to know what’s up with that.”

In December 2012, Clinton sustained a concussion after falling in her Washington, D.C., home. She was later hospitalized for four days in New York City and diagnosed with the blood clot.

A spokesman for Clinton called Rove's comments "flagrant and thinly veiled."

"[Republicans] are scared of what she has achieved and what she has to offer," Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said in a statement to Politico. “What he’s doing is its own form of sickness. But she is 100 percent, period."

Last week, Rove appeared to double down on his comments.

"I didn't say she had brain damage," Rove said on Fox News. "My point was, Hillary Clinton wants to run for president, but she would not be human if this didn't enter in as a consideration. ... This will be an issue in the 2016 race whether she likes it or not."

Sounding more than a bit like Rove, Priebus said Clinton's health will be an issue if the 66-year-old runs. "It's going to be an issue. It's going to come up," Priebus said. "We're going to be at this point at some time if Hillary Clinton runs for president. I mean, the issue of her health and her age is going to come up."

Priebus and Rove have plenty of reasons to fear Hillary Clinton's possible candidacy. Early polls suggest Clinton would be an overwhelming frontrunner in the race for the Democratic nomination, while the GOP crop remains crowded with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — once considered a strong candidate for the Republican nomination — plagued by scandal.

But Priebus said he's not afraid of Clinton.

"I don't fear [her]," Priebus said. "I think Hillary's a known product. Actually, I think it's sometimes worse running against a blank slate. Hillary has decades of history for us to explore. You know, her role in Hillary Care, when she was first lady. Her Senate experience, where there's nothing significant to point to. And her secretary of state experience, which is not just not significant, but there [are] all kinds of problems for."

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