"THAT’S THE SOLUTION!" says everybody at Ready For Hillary when they read this post.
If Hillary Clinton doesn’t seek the Democratic nomination in 2016 (and, don’t get me wrong, she is definitely running in 2016), Biden would begin the primary season as the frontrunner. Name recognition, eight years as Vice President, a consistently solid favorability score, an extensive coalition of former campaign workers and longtime supporters, and a headstart in fundraising would definitely put Biden at the front of the line if Hillary wasn’t in the race.
Biden’s age could be a potential issue, but the ages of Dole in 1996 and McCain in 2008 really didn’t become as big of a problem as many people thought it would be. Same deal with Reagan in 1980 and 1984, although there were a few worries about Reagan during the ‘84 campaign when he seemed sluggish and tired and somewhat confused during a few appearances. Reagan’s opponent in 1984, former Vice President Walter Mondale, saw a possible opportunity by making Reagan’s age an issue but Reagan shut it down with one of the greatest moments ever to take place in a Presidential debate. When asked about the age difference, Reagan said, “I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.” It was such a brilliant comment that even Mondale couldn’t stop laughing and the questions about Reagan’s age immediately disappeared. Biden definitely has the ability to use his verbal talents to disarm any questions about age.
Also, even though Biden will be 74 years old on Inauguration Day 2017, he’s healthy, active, and energetic. When Reagan ran for re-election in 1984 at the age of 73, his events were very carefully choreographed — even more so than regular White House or campaign events, which are already strictly regimented — because he had dealt with some health problems. Of course, he had been shot in 1981 and came far closer to dying from his wounds than most people realized at the time, and Nancy Reagan had been extremely protective of his physical well-being following the assassination attempt. Bob Dole led an active, hard-working lifestyle despite his age and was Senate Majority Leader until resigning during the summer of 1996 to focus on his Presidential campaign, but he had been severely injured during World War II and was disabled, so that was a concern when he faced Bill Clinton since Dole was 73 and Clinton hadn’t even been born when Dole was nearly killed in Italy during World War II. McCain was 72 years old when he faced Obama in the 2008 election, but he was also disabled from his military service when he was shot down, captured by the North Vietnamese, and brutally tortured while being held as a prisoner of war for nearly six years in the infamous “Hanoi Hilton”. So, the three recent major Presidential nominees closest in age to how old Biden will be in 2016 had potentially worrisome health problems. After Biden’s unsuccessful bid for the 1988 Democratic Presidential nomination, he suffered an aneurysm and a blood clot, but there’s been no recurrence of those health scares in the past quarter-century, and I don’t think Biden’s age would be that big of a problem if he did run.
Unfortunately, there are more serious problems that Vice President Biden would face if Hillary Clinton decided not to run in 2016 and Biden entered primary season as the frontrunner. First of all, let me point out that I’m such a big fan of Joe Biden that I would not only fully support his candidacy, but I’d work on behalf of his campaign if offered an opportunity. However, if Hillary declines to run in 2016, the Democratic Presidential nomination process would be a free-for-all. Every Democrat in the country with Presidential hopes would jump into that race if they knew Hillary was sitting 2016 out because they know that Biden is more vulnerable than Hillary. We’d end up seeing debate stages full of potential Presidential contenders doing whatever they could to squeeze in some television time and create name recognition. In other words, it would be like the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Republican Presidential nomination battles.
Believe me, there are numerous Democrats sitting on the sidelines right now, watching from the periphery, and publicly supporting Hillary Clinton’s possible bid for the Presidency in 2016 because they know right now that she’s the frontrunner, the uncrowned nominee, and someone who might end up being able to find them a place in her Cabinet if they are strong enough as surrogates on her behalf in 2016. But many of those Democrats who are “Ready For Hillary” are also “Ready To Be There Just In Case Hillary Isn’t Ready”. They are quietly building organizations that can either be used to support Hillary in that surrogate role in 2016 or to activate into their own exploratory committees if Hillary doesn’t run.
As I mentioned, Biden would be the frontrunner, and Biden would have significant advantages because of his leadership role in the party over the past eight years, his incumbency (it’s easier to draw a crowd to a thinly-veiled campaign event if you land in Air Force Two, drive through town in a Vice Presidential motorcade, and are already a heartbeat away from the Presidency). But Biden would have disadvantages, too. In case you haven’t noticed, Barack Obama isn’t exactly the most popular boy in school anymore. Biden hasn’t had a separate Vice Presidential agenda since 2009 — he’s connected in every way to the Obama Administration, and that could actually hurt him with voters suffering from Obama fatigue. Now, if you ask me, I personally think that Biden should get a free pass from any controversy or political messes simply because he looks badass with his mirrored aviator shades, bomber jacket, and that Ric Flair-style comb-over that Biden does with his hair. Unfortunately, I’m one of the few people in the world who thinks that the fact that Biden looks like the world’s hippest grandfather translates into Presidential leadership material.
But, seriously, a Biden candidacy will be automatically linked to the Obama Administration and, for those with Obama fatigue, it’s easy for Biden’s opposition to claim that he’d be nothing more than a continuance of the current Administration — basically a third term. If Obama’s popularity continues to plummet, that could be dangerous. And I don’t see Joe Biden pulling an Al Gore and running as far away from the President he served diligently for eight years in hopes of distancing himself enough to win the election. Biden’s too loyal and too invested in what Obama has done. In 2000, Gore was so worried about the Lewinsky scandal and Clinton’s impeachment that he all but stood on the roof of the White House and shouted, “No, I don’t know anyone named Bill Clinton,” or invited Clinton to go golfing with him, brought the press along, and then pushed Clinton into a pond while screaming, “You are a dirty liar and I did all of the good things during this Administration while you were being a dirty liar, you dirty liar.” Distancing himself from Clinton — the best pure politician of the last 40 years — ended up costing Gore the 2000 election. Biden wouldn’t distance himself from Obama, and his opponents wouldn’t allow the voters to forget that.
If Hillary Clinton doesn’t run, Biden will begin the primary season as the frontrunner and it’s not impossible for him to win. The difficult part would be getting the Democratic nomination; I think Biden matches up just as well as Hillary does against the major contenders rumored to be seeking the GOP nomination. Biden’s toughest match-up against any of the potential Republican nominees would be Jeb Bush, but I think that Bush is Hillary’s toughest match-up, too. But Biden would have to win the Democratic nomination first in order to get to that general election, and I just think it would be such a chaotic nomination process without Hillary, that Biden could run into trouble. Elizabeth Warren has sworn up-and-down that she’s not running, but if Hillary doesn’t, the clamor for Warren and the encouragement for someone to break that glass ceiling that Hillary has frequently referred to may urge Warren to make a bid for the White House (although I think it’s still a little early for her and that she doesn’t match-up quite as well with many of the possible GOP candidates). Brian Schweitzer, the former Governor of Montana, has been putting his name forward and visiting early primary states for the past few months, so he might be testing the waters for a run even with Hillary in the race. Governor Schweitzer has a populist attitude which might appeal to some groups, particularly moderates straddling the center of both parties, but he’d find out quickly enough that he’s not in Montana anymore. I can’t see Governor Andrew Cuomo or Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, two popular New York Democrats, making a strong enough connection nationally to put together the impressive showing in early primary/caucus states necessary for launching a full-blown Presidential campaign.
So, who would be Vice President Biden’s biggest challenge in 2016 if he didn’t have to worry about Hillary Clinton running for President? It’s Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. Governor O’Malley doesn’t have significant name recognition right now, but he’s been accepting speaking engagements throughout the country — and, for some strange reason, a lot of those speeches tend to be in places like Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada. Governor O’Malley is dynamic, charismatic, and a popular two-term Governor of Maryland about to be term-limited out of office. Until last year, O’Malley had spent two years as the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association — a position that gives Governors like O’Malley the opportunity to make trips to dozens of states, speak to tons of potential voters and possible delegates and surrogates (fellow Governors, Mayors, State Legislators, unions, local party organizations, etc.), raise money for other candidates (an important role since that often inspires loyalty and offers of future support from grateful candidates across the country), and introduce himself to scores of Americans — usually fellow Democrats — while gathering their information (names, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, the issues they care most about, etc.).
O’Malley has long been a supporter of the Clintons — both Bill and Hillary — but he’s also extraordinarily ambitious and the fastest rising star in the Democratic Party that most people don’t know about. If Hillary Clinton runs for President in 2016, Martin O’Malley will be one of he strongest surrogates, most influential advisers, and a powerhouse fundraiser. If Hillary doesn’t run, nobody besides Vice President Biden has a better built-in campaign organization than Governor O’Malley. It’s been done on the down-low because of his close ties to the Clintons, but I guarantee that O’Malley could have a campaign on the ground and running full speed within hours of Hillary’s decision if she chooses not to run. Without Hillary, Biden could win, but Governor O’Malley would probably beat him. And once the American people who are unfamiliar with Governor O’Malley get to hear him speak and know him better, he’s going to be a rock star like the 1991-1992 version of Bill Clinton and the 2007-2009 version of Barack Obama. That’s how talented Martin O’Malley is — and he’d beat any of the Republicans we often hear bandied about as 2016 contenders.
No, definitely not.
After spending eight years as Obama’s Vice President, I’m positive that Biden would have no interest in settling for the Vice Presidency again; he has his eyes set on the White House. If that’s not a possibility, I would not be surprised to see Biden attempt to reclaim his old seat in the U.S. Senate. Biden loved his time in the Senate, he is perhaps more knowledgeable about the inner workings of the Senate than anyone else alive right now, and another stint in the upper chamber of Congress would keep him far more active than continuing as Vice President under another Administration. Biden hasn’t been shy about teasing a possible Presidential run in 2016, but that’s going to be tough (and likely not winnable) if Hillary Clinton indeed runs. However, Biden has also openly said that he has no interest in retiring once his term as Vice President ends on January 20, 2017.
Another big obstacle to a Clinton/Biden ticket in 2016 are the ages of both candidates. Hillary Clinton is already going to face questions about her age if she runs in 2016. If elected, she’ll be the second-oldest President in American history on Inauguration Day 2017; Hillary will be 69 years, 86 days old — just 263 days younger than Reagan was when he was inaugurated. Biden will be 74 years, 61 days on Inauguration Day 2017, so he’d be the oldest President in American history (nearly five years older than Reagan was in 1981) as well as the oldest Vice President in American history (a full three years older than Alben Barkley, who is currently the oldest VP in history and was 71 years, 57 days old when he became Truman’s VP in 1949).
So, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden will undoubtedly face questions about their age if they run for President in 2016, just as Bob Dole did in 1996 and John McCain did in 2008. In fact, Biden will not only be older than either Dole or McCain was when they ran for the President, but if he were elected President in 2016, he’d be older on Inauguration Day than any other President was upon LEAVING office. Political parties prefer to balance their tickets during Presidential elections geographically, ideologically, experience-wise, and by age. If Hillary or Biden are nominated for President by the Democrats in 2016, the age issue will attempt to be addressed by nominating a running mate who is younger. There’s no way that the Democrats would nominate a 69-year-old President alongside a 74-year-old Vice President.
No, I don’t think that it would be suicidal at all. I think Jeb Bush is the best possible candidate that the Republicans can put forth in 2016, and I think that he’s the only GOP contender who might be able to hang with Hillary Clinton. Ideologically, Jeb Bush is far more similar to his father than his brother, and I believe that he’s the only possible GOP candidate (unless the Republicans nominate Jon Huntsman — like they SHOULD) who can lock down the support of moderates. Bush would have trouble with the hardcore conservatives in his party, but if the GOP wants to have a chance in 2016, they’ll need to rally behind a candidate who might be able to…you know…win…and Bush is their best shot (and, even then, it’s no sure thing).
Romney has been adamant that he’s not running for President again and that he doesn’t imagine any sort of of draft changing his mind. Because of the guy that Romney is, I believe that he doesn’t want to run again, but I also think he’d accept a draft if he felt it was his duty to serve his party and country. And despite Romney’s defeats in the 2008 GOP primaries and the 2012 general election, I think he’s probably the strongest possible Republican candidate in 2016 (if he did change his mind and run) besides Jeb Bush.
No, not really. If she’s going to run for President in 2016, she’s going to have to face questions about her wealth and her health. I don’t see anything wrong with that, and I’m sure that Hillary and her team will put together the right answers to those questions as the campaign truly kicks into gear.
In 2008, and especially in 2012, Mitt Romney’s wealth was used by his opponents to portray him as out-of-touch with average Americans. The Clintons are also very wealthy, and most of that wealth has been from speaking fees and things that they’ve done since leaving the White House in 2001. There’s nothing wrong with that — and there was nothing wrong with Romney being wealthy — but they are fair game and they’ll have to deal with that.
As for Hillary Clinton’s health, that’s also a valid concern, as it should be with any Presidential contender. It’s important to remember that, if elected, Hillary Clinton will be the second oldest President on Inauguration Day in American history. Ronald Reagan was 69 years, 349 days old when he was inaugurated; Hillary Clinton will be 69 years, 86 days old on Inauguration Day. Reagan faced questions about his age and health in 1980 and 1984, Bob Dole’s age and health was a concern in 1996, John McCain’s age and health was an issue in 2008, and Hillary’s will be in 2016. I’m not a doctor and I haven’t seen her medical records, but I imagine that Hillary Clinton wouldn’t run for President if she wasn’t healthy enough to do so. In my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with voters wanting proof that her health — or any Presidential candidate’s health — isn’t an obstacle to the duties of a President.
She has a super PAC (“Ready For Hillary”) formed by some of her “former” top aides that is soliciting donations, building a supporter database, churning out e-mail blasts every other day, mailing bumper stickers, and snapping up endorsements from major Democratic figures. A campaign-style “Ready For Hillary” bus just happens to be showing up everywhere that she is making an appearance on her book tour. She’s in the midst of a media blitz that isn’t exactly the run-of-the-mill publicity tour for a book release — complete with town hall events for news networks and social media sites. She wrote a book that’s over 600 pages long but didn’t really say anything so as not to create a potential minefield during an eventual general election. The book is carefully constructed to avoid touching upon anything inflammatory, controversial, or too revealing that she might have to walk back at a later date. She has a full-fledged rapid response team that quickly goes after any attacks or mischaracterizations from her opposition and immediately clarifies any fuzzy statements or awkward quotes and cleans up any mistakes from her end.
I don’t know if Hillary Clinton is running for President in 2016, but I imagine she probably will because, quite frankly, Hillary Clinton is running for President right now.
Sure, she hasn’t declared that she’s running and she’s still saying that she’s “considering” it and will come to a decision sometime next year. But that’s because it doesn’t make any sense to publicly declare that you’re running for President two years out and have to deal with all of the campaign finance disclosures and quarterly reports when a super PAC can do the dirty work in the meantime, raise an unlimited amount of money, and have “no connection” to the candidate. Ready For Hillary is a proxy campaign; Hillary Clinton is undoubtedly running for President.
I don’t think he’d even have to “snatch” the Republican nomination. If Jeb Bush doesn’t run for President, the only Republican who would have any shot at beating Hillary Clinton and winning the election is Mitt Romney. Believe it or not, if Hillary Clinton shockingly decided not to run, I think Mitt Romney could very well be the front-runner, Republican or Democrat — and that might be enough to convince him to go through everything again and take another shot at running.
Otherwise, I doubt he would put himself and his family through another Presidential campaign that might end in loss. The campaign itself is punishing, and that’s without even factoring in how devastating it is to lose. Romney and his family have dealt with losses in a primary campaign (2008) and a general election (2012), and I don’t see them doing that again unless there’s a really, really, REALLY clear indication that he’d do better than he did against Obama.
There are a lot of people — even people who didn’t vote for Mitt Romney — who are now wishing he would have won the 2012 election. I imagine there will be a lot of hope or nostalgia for Romney to run again in 2016, especially as the Republican field starts to battle for the GOP nomination and it becomes obvious how sub-standard many of the leading “contenders” are. If Jeb Bush runs, he should set himself apart from that field quickly. If he doesn’t run, a lot of people are going to urge a “Draft Romney” effort. It’ll be interesting to see what happens and Romney as the GOP savior (for the Republican Party, not the country) can’t be totally discounted, but I think Jeb Bush will run in 2016 and give the Republicans somebody who at least won’t lose to Hillary by 400 electoral votes.
To paraphrase the great Charles Barkley’s quote when he was asked what he knew about Angola before the Dream Team played them during the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, “I don’t know anything about Neel Kashkari, but Neel Kashkari’s in trouble.”
Governor Brown might beat Kashkari by 50% in November. I’m curious to see whether Governor Brown, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, or Attorney General Kamala Harris wins re-election by a larger margin. Probably Brown, who would be a Presidential contender in 2016 if he wasn’t going to be 78 years old that year. But Newsom and Harris are rising stars in the Democratic Party both in California and nationally. Both of them are young and probably have their eyes on being Governor in 2018, and both of them could probably win. Newsom has deeper pockets, but Harris has wider appeal. Interestingly enough, Newsom likely would have the backing of the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party while Harris would have the support of the Obama wing. Back in 2008 — actually, way back in 2007 after Obama formed his exploratory committee — Kamala (who was District Attorney of San Francisco at the time) was the first elected official in California to fully support Obama. I remember her driving herself up to Sacramento in the evenings to help out at events where there were less than a dozen people and this way as early as March 2007 (Obama officially jumped in the race in February), so I imagine the President will do whatever he can for her in the future.
I would bet that the California Democratic Party will be watching the returns of the races of Newsom and Harris much closer than Governor Brown’s race. All three are certain to be re-elected, but the CDP will be looking for its next Governor between Newsom and Harris (with Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson as a dark horse), so the more impressive margin of victory could have future implications. Also, this might sound a little crazy if you’re unfamiliar with Kamala Harris and Gavin Newsom, but I could easily see either one of them as the next Vice President of the United States, so you might want to get to know them.
I don’t have a clue. None of the other Republicans frequently mentioned as possible contenders for the nomination in 2016 have a chance at winning a Presidential election and I can’t even fathom how some of them could even be nominated. If Jeb Bush doesn’t run, I can imagine the other candidates diminishing each other because of the size of the field and the lack of any standouts and just battling each other to a stalemate that results in a brokered convention. I have no idea who would emerge victorious from that scenario, but it most likely wouldn’t be one of the main candidates going into the convention. Honestly, if that happened, the GOP seriously would be better off organizing a Draft Mitt Romney movement and nominating him again. If Jeb Bush doesn’t run, the Republicans are going to have a very rough 2016.
1. Do I think we would’ve considered Nixon as one of the greatest Presidents of all time if not for Watergate? No, but he probably would have been somewhere between #10 and #15 (closer to 15). Here are my Presidential Rankings from 2012 (updated rankings coming next month!) and that’s not a bad area to be in.
2. Who do I think the nominees of both parties will be? It’s still way too far out to make a truly accurate prediction, especially when it comes to Vice Presidential candidates. With a gun to my head, I’d say that the Democrats would be Hillary Clinton for President and Martin O’Malley for Vice President. Rahm Emanuel is a sleeper VP candidate for Hillary. As for the GOP, I’d go with Jeb Bush as President. His running mate is a lot harder to guess at. If they’re smart and Hillary is the Democratic nominee, the GOP Vice Presidential nominee will be Kelly Ayotte or Condoleezza Rice or Susana Martinez. Then again, if they’re smart, they’ll nominate Jon Huntsman for President tomorrow. They aren’t and they won’t.
No way! The turnout is low in Presidential elections when it’s an unappealing matchup or the election isn’t close. A Hillary vs. Jeb matchup will be appealing to both political bases and it should be a close election, so I think the turnout would be very high if that’s the case.
Also, I’m just going off the top of my head, so I could be mistaken, but I think the 1996 election (Clinton vs. Dole) is actually the lowest turnout in a Presidential election. Not only was ‘96 was a re-election campaign, but it was an unappealing matchup and Clinton was clearly on his way to a victory, so a lot of voters stayed home on Election Day. If 1988 still has the lowest turnout, it’s not by much more than ‘96. The 1988 campaign between George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis was hotly contested, but it got so negative that a lot of voters were turned off and stayed away, especially once Bush pulled away from Dukakis in the fall and it became clear he would win the election.