Hillary Clinton: The ‘Comeback Kid’ Part 2

Bill Clinton earned the nickname the "Comeback Kid" for his second-place finish in the New Hampshire primary in 1992 and reinforced that label after both an arduous 1994 midterm election and a scandal involving an affair during his presidency.

But he's got some competition for that label ... from his wife.

Outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in fact, has managed at least three -- and possibly four -- distinct political comebacks over the last two decades. Here's the chart from the Pew Research Center.

The first drop came during the Whitewater scandal in 1996, when Clinton was subpoenaed to testify. She recovered as her husband's sex scandal took off and was very popular for a time, only to have her numbers drop again at the tail end of his presidency.

As she was being sworn into the Senate in January 2001, she was again very popular, with a 60 percent favorable rating. But soon, Republicans had turned her into a partisan figure, and she dropped to 47 percent by the end of 2002.

A bruising 2008 presidential primary campaign hurt her again, but her time as Secretary of State has led to the highest numbers of her career.

Whether they stay in the stratosphere depends a lot on how the controversy over the killings of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, shakes out. From there, the 2016 presidential race awaits, in which Clinton could really nab the "Comeback Kid" mantle from her husband, once and for all.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.

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Chris Cillizza · December 21, 2012