For the past week or so, the Republican National Committee has sent a staffer dressed as a giant orange squirrel out to stalk Hillary Clinton as she promotes her new memoir. On Tuesday evening, the two came face-to-face.
When Clinton pulled up to the Newseum in downtown Washington, where she was participating in a town hall hosted by CNN, she walked right up to the squirrel and handed him a copy of her new memoir, Hard Choices, saying, "I hope you will make the hard choice and read my book."
"Mr. Squirrel," as Clinton addressed the rodent, was equally magnanimous, shaking her hand and earning some applause from passers by who witnessed the historic summit. On Twitter, political observers hailed Clinton's gesture as a deft maneuver.
For his part, the squirrel acknowledges it was a bit caught off guard, according to RNC spokesperson Raffi Williams, the party's official "squirrel translator." But the exchange did not change the animal's views on the former secretary of State at all.
"The squirrel was surprised that Hillary would engage it, though I must say the squirrel was upset it couldn't ask Hillary the tough questions Americans want answered. The fact that Hillary engaged just proves that team Hillary is nervous about the Republican opposition," Williams said in email to National Journal. "The squirrel has already put the book in the fiction section of his library."
Speaking for himself in the first person, the squirrel added that he opposes a likely Clinton presidential run because, "another Clinton in the White House is nuts!" President Obama's two terms have "hurt all Americans (squirrels like me included)," the rodent continued, adding that a Clinton presidency would basically be a third Obama term.
Democrats were quick to mock the stunt, but the HRC Squirrel, as it's known on Twitter, said the jeering merely "proves just how nervous they are that my efforts will get Hillary not to run."
"I plan on continuing to make appearances as necessary," the squirrel added. "As of now I'm not planning on having any other animals join in on my fun, but things can always change."
Mother Jones reported Monday that Republicans used to same squirrel costume before to draw attention to the scandal surrounding the community group ACORN in the early years of Obama's presidency. Responding in the first person, the squirrel seemed to acknowledge the connection, saying, "What can I say? I do what is needed to make sure Americans know the truth."
The 2016 campaign hasn't even started yet and already Clinton has a talking squirrel and talking tour bus following her every move. The latter belongs to the pro-Clinton super PAC Ready for Hillary, whose Hillary Bus tweets in first-person.