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Wed Feb 27, 2013, 09:07 AM

Hillary the field-clearer


When it comes to non-incumbent White House candidates, she really could break the mold if she runs

BY STEVE KORNACKI

The latest round of conversation about Hillary Clinton’s impact on the 2016 Democratic landscape is playing out this week.

It started with a piece by Politico’s Jonathan Martin, who spoke with a number of Democratic governors in Washington last weekend and reported that there’s a “broad recognition” among them that Clinton could clear the field if she enters the race – or at least run as a front-runner like we’ve never before seen. That prompted Ed Kilgore to note that, historically speaking, there really hasn’t been such a thing as clearing the field, and that if nothing else Clinton will face “someone with a resume that commands at least minimal respect” should she run.

Kilgore’s point is well-taken, but as one who has actively promoted Clinton’s field-clearing potential, I’d argue that an even closer examination of the history of modern presidential nominating contests suggests the former secretary of state could potentially enjoy an easier path to the nomination than any non-incumbent who’s run.

The ’16 Democratic race will mark the fourth time since 1972, when rules changes empowered primary voters instead of convention deal-makers to choose each party’s nominee, that an open nomination will be created by the end of a two-term presidency. This has previously happened in 1988, 2000 and 2008 – and of these three examples, ’88 and ’00 seem to most relevant to understanding the ’16 Democratic picture. In ’08, morale in the incumbent party was exceptionally low, with voters turning hard against George W. Bush, to the point that his name was barely mentioned by any of the candidates vying to succeed him as the GOP nominee. It’s possible the Obama presidency will end similarly, but for now it’s safer to assume that he’ll be reasonably popular as his second term winds down and that there will be a fairly strong desire for continuity within his party. This was the case in ’88, as the Reagan presidency wore down, and in ’00, as Bill Clinton’s second term neared its end. Let’s consider how the nomination contests to succeed those two men took shape and played out:

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http://www.salon.com/2013/02/27/hillary_the_field_clearer/

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 12:11 PM

1. Add "1" to the "inevitability"meme counter. nt

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Response to antigop (Reply #1)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 07:30 AM

2. Yep, it seems like that's all we are hearing

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Response to davidpdx (Reply #2)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 10:27 AM

7. Yep...who's pushing this? Gee, I wonder. (sarcasm) nt

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 09:30 AM

3. I think that the media and other politicians need to give Hillary space.

Tomorrow it'll be just one month since she left office. They should let her rest and decide what she wants to do with her life. She's being pressured from all sides and it's really not fair to her.

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Response to Beacool (Reply #3)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 09:39 AM

4. Not fair? I think it is the ultimate compliment that they are writing what they are writing

I doubt that it bothers her in the least that they are praising her as much as they are. Imagine, if there were NO stories and everything moved away from her as if she had been just one of the 60 some SOSs. True, there could be just articles on her tenure and legacy with no speculation, but even Bill Clinton has at times encouraged the speculations.

Ask yourself if is fair to Joe Biden that there are some raising his name. I suspect that like Clinton, he prefers to be mentioned rather than not mentioned - and it will be their own decisions whether to run. Both ran before and probably did see themselves as capable of being great Presidents.

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Response to karynnj (Reply #4)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 09:51 AM

5. I wish there were more articles about what exactly she accomplished as SoS.

You hear a lot of 'she's the best most hard working accomplished Sos in the History of the world', but actually finding anything relevant to that is not that easy. One would think her closest fans would have a handy list ready, but they say: You go google that yourself. I did try but got nothing but vagueries and opinions but little facts.

Anyway, hi DV/OP. I see you have to have your daily HC thread, just like a vitamin pill or something.

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Response to karynnj (Reply #4)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 10:00 AM

6. I'm referring to the pressure.

They should let the woman decide on her own what she wants to do.

As for Biden, it is Joe himself who fans the flames. Realistically speaking, there's no way he is going to be the nominee in 2016, even if Hillary chooses not to run.

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Response to Beacool (Reply #6)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 06:28 PM

8. What pressure?

Speculative articles? High approval ratings? These are things that ANY politician would love. Even having to look surprised and laugh and say that "it's too early" or "I'm not even thinking of that" are flattering and not anything that she should have a problem with.

If it were late 2014 and others were waiting for her decision either to run or to work for or raise funds for, I could see the pressure. However, there is NO real pressure now - she is free to do anything she wants.

As to Biden, I don't think he will run, but I wouldn't rule it out. He did try seriously twice and considered it in 2003, as you say he has made comments that suggest he could be interested. He has become an increasingly important VP and that likely would continue. He has also done many things that would make him better liked by the base. He was the one who coordinated getting out of Iraq and the one arguing most forcefully against the Afghanistan surge - which I believe most in the Democratic base disagree with especially as it does not seemed to work. Clinton has been labeled more hawkish.

If both were younger, I could see a fight between them - and if that were true, I would bet that Biden takes Iowa. Remember that the primaries are fought on the left, not in the center.

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