She lost the Democratic nomination, but Hillary Clinton finally beat the vast right-wing conspiracy. For fifteen years, she’s been a nemesis and fund-raising gold mine for the Republican Party, but the McCain-Palin campaign, eager to rehash her primary-season attacks on Barack Obama and hoping to attract disappointed female voters, spent months praising the New York senator. “It’s now become part of our vocabulary that Hillary Clinton is a more mainstream Democrat, a moderate Democrat,” says Representative Peter King, the Long Island Republican. Former senator Al D’Amato agrees: “She will not be the polarizing figure that Republicans heretofore would run at.” At home, she’s now safer than ever. “There’s nobody who can challenge her to a competitive race in New York,” says GOP strategist Ed Rollins, who worked for a 2006 opponent, KT McFarland, and sees her consolidating her Senate power and getting respect from across the aisle. “It’s not about the Clintons anymore,” he says. “It’s about Obama.”
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