The Most Likely Next President Is Hillary Clinton

26 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Bernie Sanders just declared war: But is he running against Bill Clinton or Hillary?.

DES MOINES — Going into this weekend’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, a major pre-primary event where Democratic primary candidates try to coalesce support for their campaign in the first primary state of Iowa, Hillary Clinton was riding high. A virulent strain of Clinton Derangement Syndrome, which scientists and Republicans thought had been wiped out at the end of the last century, is now inflicting millions of conservative Americans.

In an interview on 60 Minutes last night, Biden dismissed long-standing rumors that Beau – who died from brain cancer in May – tried to persuade him to run for the White House shortly before his death. Some Republicans so detest Hillary Clinton they are badly underestimating how likely she is, at this point in the campaign, to be America’s 45th president. The Vice President also said he would have launched a campaign if he thought he could have beaten Hillary Clinton to the Democratic nomination – but bluntly admitted that he could not. Her appearance before the level of hell known as the Benghazi hearings, clearly designed by Republicans to weaken her campaign, instead made her look strong and no-bullshit, the version of Hillary Clinton celebrated by the Tumblr Texts From Hillary Clinton. I don’t want the party walking away from what Barack and I did.” Biden said his decision about whether or not to run was about whether he could do the best job as president, and in no way about running to stop Clinton. “I’ve debated Hillary 13 times in national presidential debates,” he said. “I know Hillary, I know her debating skills, and I know mine.

Under the circumstances, it’s no surprise that Bernie Sanders pulled out all stops at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, hoping to regain momentum, by comparing himself to Barack Obama and his legendary 2007 appearance at the dinner. “Eight years ago the experts talked about how another Democratic candidate for president, Barack Obama, couldn’t win,” Sanders pronounced during his dinner speech. “How he was unelectable. To be sure, nothing ever happens in a linear or tidy fashion with the Clintons; she is certain to add more chapters to the Perils of Hillary saga before Election Day 2016. The only reason to run is because I still think I could do a better job than anybody else could do.’ Biden also attempted to put to bed rumors that he and the former Secretary of State are not on good terms, playing down suggestions that he made a jab at her in a speech revealing that he would not run.

I believe we will make history.” It was a bold pronouncement and probably the wrong move, because the only real thing the Sanders campaign had in common with the Obama campaign is a desire to topple Hillary Clinton from her perch as frontrunner. Even if Clinton is nominated, a strong Republican candidate could absolutely defeat her next November, with victory as simple as the party putting forth a nominee who is more likeable to voters and better on television. Indeed, many elite and grassroots Republicans believe Clinton’s personality, which they can’t stand, will keep her out of the Oval Office no matter what. He has not endorsed a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. ‘And I walked in and I said, “You know, I just don’t think there’s time.” I’ve just decided, “I – don’t think we can run the kind of campaign we have to run to be able to win.” And – I remember Jill just got up off the couch, gave me a big hug, and said, “I think you’re right.”‘ ‘No, I think I was disappointed,’ Jill Biden said. ‘I mean, I thought Joe would be a great president.

The Sanders on display in Iowa this weekend spoke a lot of “revolution,” but his campaign felt tired and he sometimes seemed more interested in litigating the past than looking to the future. After coming out on stage to Steve Earle’s “The Revolution Starts Now,” Sanders spent much of his speech castigating not just Hillary, but Bill Clinton, though always being careful never to name either one of them directly. He spoke about his votes against NAFTA and DOMA in the ’90s, which were definitely digs more against Bill than Hillary, who wasn’t even an elected official at the time. The more easily she can complete her first mission (especially compared to the wooly nomination battle of her eventual Republican opponent), the more easily achievable will be her second goal.

Here, then, are some of the advantages the Democratic frontrunner has now, many of which have been ignored or discounted by the people who want to beat her so badly they can’t think straight: Hillary has shown she can handle Bernie Sanders, despite his plucky persona, raw grassroots appeal, and authentic authenticity. Going after Clinton’s husband as much as after her, even under the guise of talking about his history of making hard political choices, is an understandable move. The Vegas debate and Clinton’s improved poll standing has given her and her team a revived notion that Sanders will end up a nuisance rather than a real threat.

Still, it’s a choice that has potential to backfire, not just because it’s backwards-looking instead of forward-looking, but because it opens Sanders up to accusations of sexism for assuming that a woman follows lockstep after her husband. Clinton is not afraid to insinuate that assumption is sexist, either. “I’m not running for my husband’s third term,” she announced during her speech. “I’m not running for Barack Obama’s third term.

She focused less on the primary and more on the the general election, speaking about battling Republicans and praising the Democrats for being, in so many words, the grown-up party. While hitting many of the same talking points as Sanders—income inequality, climate change, Wall Street corruption—she oriented her speech around solutions more than he did, particularly regarding her plans to undermine the shadow banking system. At the J-J dinner, in her recent television interviews, and in her Benghazi testimony, she is showing more of her real self (even the all-too-human tetchy, the airily dismissive, the lordly—without knee-jerk defensiveness or wide-eyed guile), and not getting tied in knots over how she is coming off. Seeing as how Sanders spoke before Clinton (with a buffer of Martin O’Malley, who literally put some teen girls I sat next to asleep), it ended up feeling like he was there to introduce the problems and she was there to offer solutions. Biden’s withdrawal means Clinton will lock up even more commitments from the Democratic establishment, giving her even more super delegates and making it easier to bounce back if Sanders wins Iowa, New Hampshire, or both.

I reported in August that Clinton’s camp already had in hand private commitments from enough of the elected and party officials who are automatic delegates to the national convention next summer (so-called super delegates) that she was one fifth of her way to the nomination. The party’s most important constituency group in terms of ground troops and campaign resources is now moving decisively towards Clinton, also giving her more working-class cred and undermining one of Sanders’ strongest rhetorical plays—that she is out of touch with the economic grassroots. Mostly country-western music played over the speakers during the warm-up for the Sanders rally, but at the Clinton rally, it was almost exclusively pop and R&B. Her team privately believes that, given the way expectations have been set up, even narrow wins in the two first-voting contests would not be discounted.

Even Sanders’ top aides acknowledge that, barring other factors, it could be game, set, match if Hillary starts the voting year with twin wins, giving Brooklyn ample incentive to go all in there and try to put it away early. He has been kept in the loop on the campaign’s thinking, receives polling information on a regular basis, and has participated in some strategy discussions with the team. It’s easy to scoff that things like telling jokes (which Clinton did and Sanders did not) and surrounding yourself with pop stars is just aesthetics. Both campaign chairman John Podesta and campaign manager Robbie Mook have good and confident relationships with the FPOTUS, who seems less ambivalent than last time about becoming the First Lad.

There are fraught moments in Brooklyn, as in any campaign, and Clinton’s donors can get restive awfully quick, but this year’s model is one of relative peace and tranquility. Sanders is right about everything ailing our country, but he never conveyed that sense of hope, so much as a continued outrage over the failures of the past. Clinton loyalist Guy Cecil is now topping Priorities USA and he has brought in a new cast of folks to supplement holdovers such as Paul Begala, Jim Messina, and Harold Ickes, all of whom have experience rubbing shoulders with the mega-wealthy and prying seven-figure checks out of their hands. Cecil knows how to leverage hot buttons like the Koch brothers and the threat of more conservative Supreme Court justices and unified GOP control of Washington to maintain momentum and encourage the participation of those previously reluctant to muck about in the big money world that many liberals despise and disdain. Oppo veteran Christina Reynolds heads an operation that can afford to play a long game, teasing out incremental research in conjunction with allies such as the Democratic National Committee but knowing full well that holding back powerful tidbits until the late spring or summer, when the eventual Republican nominee will be most vulnerable, is supremely smart.

The research operations of the Republican presidential campaigns, on the other hand, are currently focused on each other (although the independent group America Rising is hoping to make up the gap). Even with Sanders a remaining foe, Hillaryland is coordinating fundraising with the national and state parties, strategizing about installing allies at the party headquarters in DC, and gaming out what the Philly convention will look like. Republicans are erroneously convinced they can beat Clinton solely with talk of Benghazi, e-mails, and other controversies that have nothing to do with the economy and the real lives of real people. The problem is that swing voters don’t share that view in sufficient numbers to actually warrant banking a victory on placing those arguments front and center. Kevin McCarthy’s acknowledgement that the Benghazi committee was set up to damage Clinton politically has not just polluted the select committee’s efforts; it also means that one of the most effectively tried-and-true Team Clinton defenses (that any controversy that swirls around her is a ginned up political attack because Republicans don’t want to talk about real issues) has got legs straight through next November.

She won’t have as many debates in which to hone her skills as the eventual GOP nominee, but she has many other edges, including her 2008 experience; the fact that going forward she will face only one or two opponents—rather than nine or so—on the debate stage (much closer to the dynamics in a general election); her professionalized and experienced debate prep team (many of whom worked the same gig for Barack Obama); and her own fearsome, dogged, and scrupulous preparation. But barring some major change in his fortune, Obama’s current approval rating of around 46% is likely to sustain through Election Day, a high enough figure, history suggests, to keep him from being a drag on his party’s nominee and chosen successor. That includes using contests in caucuses and primaries states that will be battlegrounds next November to build up a team, target data, establish media relationships, and keep it all humming after the nominating contest and throughout the duration.

It also includes living by the dictum “what’s mine is mine and what’s yours let’s negotiate over,” hawkishly protecting the nearly 250 electoral votes and voting groups Democrats have won consistently over the last several cycles while looking to expand the targeting efforts demographically and geographically. Republicans have done next to nothing, and clearly much more harm than good since Mitt Romney lost in 2012, to make in-roads with the so-called coalition of the ascendant. But the safe Democrat states would give her a huge leg up, and demographic changes mean Clinton could be playing offense in places such as Georgia and Arizona under the right circumstances. They are staying largely mum for now, preferring to let the candidate’s recent positive media coverage speak for itself and not relinquish any tactical advantage of surprise.

They also know the FBI probe into her e-mails, Bill Clinton’s portfolio, or something new and super controversial could upend her standing at any time. This list is not meant to gloss over the considerable challenges Clinton is sure to face even if everything goes as planned on her side—not to mention if things start to go south. And a few savvy Republican operatives are ringing the alarm bell in private strategy sessions, urging the party to try to address as many of these deficits as soon as possible.

But don’t be surprised if reports soon surface mirroring what happened almost exactly eight years ago, when Clinton asked top advisers to secretly begin planning her vice presidential selection process—and her presidential transition. Republicans would surely see those steps as wildly premature, but given all of Clinton’s advantages now, she may consider it simply prudent planning.

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