yesterday’s “Arthur Answers” post, I answered several questions about candidates running for US President in the 2016 US elections. Commenting on that post, Roger Green had a further question. So, for the first time, this is an addendum “Arthur Answers” post.
“If Hillary could NOT be the Democratic nominee, because of some legal problem, who would be? Who should be? Would it come out of the present collection? Or Clinton disciple Kirsten Gillibrand? Or would they exhume Al Gore from the crypt?”
The tl;dr version of what I said yesterday is that while it was possible that Bernie Sanders could defeat Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, it was unlikely to happen. I mention that first because Hillary dropping out is one of the few ways Bernie might win the nomination, but I don’t think that's likely, either.
I think that what would be most likely to happen would be that either Martin O’Malley would emerge as the alternative for mainstream Democrats, or, more likely, someone else would enter the race. I don’t think that Senator Gillbrand would be that person (she’s too closely identified with Clinton), but Senator Elizabeth Warren could be.
Warren is in a unique position: She’s a definite Liberal, maybe not as far Left as Sanders, but further Left than Clinton. She doesn’t have the same “insider” association as either Clinton or Sanders (who’s a career politician, after all). She’s crusaded, like Sanders, against the Wall Street “Banksters”. And, obviously, she’s a woman, like Clinton. In some ways, Elizabeth Warren is combination of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, but without their negatives. She even used to vote Republican.
There were a lot of Left-leaning Democrats hoping that Warren would run, and many of those same people now back Sanders. The “conventional wisdom” was that Warren didn’t run because Clinton was, and she had no interest in diminishing the chance for a woman to be the Democratic nominee. Maybe so, or maybe she just wasn’t interested, full stop. Does it matter? She didn’t run.
So, if Hillary Clinton was forced out of the race for whatever reason, I think the most likely replacement would be a candidacy by Elizabeth Warren, or else the party establishment might rally around Martin O’Malley.
However, I don’t think it matters who could be the replacement nominee: For this scenario to matter, Clinton would have been forced out of the race, and that would almost certainly mean that the Republican nominee would be elected, no matter who the replacement Democratic nominee was.
But, instead of unlikely legal issues, let’s suppose that it was simply a matter of Hillary losing the early contests. This is precisely the possible scenario that Stuart Stevens, former chief strategist for Mitt Romney, talked about in a recent (somewhat grumpy) piece for The Daily Beast. Stevens was giving “advice” to Clinton on how not to lose, but electoral defeat is the only likely reason why Democrats would be looking for a new person to rally around.
In that case, Warren would be the most likely to win the nomination, but if she chose not to enter the race, Sanders would be the most likely replacement. If Warren didn’t enter the race, O’Malley would probably pick up the support of centrist Democrats, but I’m not sure he could win the nomination: Sanders would have momentum on his side.
At the moment, none of the actual or possible replacement candidates have the name recognition of Hillary Clinton, so any late-entry candidate would have to somehow establish national awareness, and fast. It’s possible, but it wouldn’t be easy. Then, they’d have to take on the Republican nominee who by the time of the nomination will have been in the news for months. A big ask no matter the reason for the replacement.
So, depending on the circumstances, if Hillary Clinton was not the nominee, I’d expect the replacement to be either Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, or Martin O’Malley. Circumstances would determine who would try to be the replacement and, once chosen, how successful he or she would be.
But, at the moment, I’ve seen nothing so far that makes me think that anyone other than Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee.
There’s still time to ask questions! Like Roger did last time, you can leave a comment on this post (anonymous comments are okay). You can also email me your question (and you can even tell me to keep your name secret, although, why not pick a nom du question?). And, for the first time, you can also ask questions on the AmeriNZ Facebook page.