This story has been updated.
One of Vice President Biden's most prominent supporters said Wednesday that twin controversies swirling around Hillary Rodham Clinton should give Democrats serious pause about anointing her as the party's presidential nominee.
Dick Harpootlian, a former Democratic Party chairman in South Carolina, home to an early and important presidential primary, said recent reports about Clinton's use of private e-mail to conduct government business and her family's charitable foundation accepting donations from foreign governments while she was secretary of state could be damaging to her likely 2016 presidential campaign.
"There’s always another shoe to drop with Hillary," Harpootlian said in an interview Wednesday. "Do we nominate her not knowing what’s in those e-mails?... If the e-mails were just her and her family and friends canoodling about fashion and what they’re going to do next week, that’s one thing. But the fact that she’s already turned e-mails to the Benghazi committee because she was doing official business on it means she’s going to die by 1,000 cuts on this one."
The House Select Committee on Benghazi, which discovered Clinton's use of a personal e-mail account during its probe of the fatal 2012 terrorist attack on the State Department's consulate in Benghazi, Libya, is preparing to subpoena Clinton's private e-mails later Wednesday.
In the two days since The New York Times first reported on Clinton's e-mails, many Democrats have come to Clinton's defense. Clinton allies have argued that the story, which has Washington and cable television news atwitter, will not influence the way regular voters view Clinton months from now when they cast ballots.
But Harpootlian -- who has been an active and outspoken booster of a Biden 2016 candidacy -- said the foundation donations and e-mail stories have sparked chatter among South Carolina politicos about drafting other candidates into the Democratic primary. Referencing Biden specifically, he said, “I’ll tell you this: He ain’t got no e-mail problems. He ain’t got no foundation problems. What you see with Joe is what you get. There’s nothing hidden there.”
Harpootlian added, “The chatter down here is, 'Is this the best we can do?' Certainly everyone wants to give a woman a chance to lead this country, but is [Clinton] the woman? There are plenty of other women who would be competitive, whether it’s Elizabeth Warren or Amy Klobuchar or Kirsten Gillibrand.”
The three Democratic senators, from Massachusetts, Minnesota and New York respectively, have each ruled out a 2016 campaign.
Harpootlian said that throughout Clinton’s more than two decades in public life, she has had a “protective cocoon” of “sycophantic political operatives” around her, but that their response so far has been ham-handed at best.
"She better peel away the layers of protection and come out and talk about this," Harpootlian said. "Who were the e-mails to? What is this about? Why did you do it? Put it to bed. You can’t play rope-a-dope and be elected President of the United States.”
Update, 4:06 p.m. ET:
Adrienne Watson, a spokeswoman at Correct the Record, a pro-Clinton political group, e-mailed the following response to Harpootlian’s comments:
“Secretary Clinton’s use of her personal email address was consistent with precedent set by her predecessors at the State Department, and at the State Department's request, she furnished 55,000 pages of emails to be archived months ago. While some toxic individuals would like to keep this in the headlines, the truth is there’s nothing to it, no matter how much these people would like to keep the Benghazi hoax alive.”