Thursday, May 08, 2008

Dick Morris: Is Hillary Looking to 2012?

Former Clinton White House aide turned Clintons' critic Dick Morris speculates on what Sen. Clinton will do now:

OK, so Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) is staying in the presidential race despite losing among elected delegates, facing a slimming lead among superdelegates, losing the popular vote and behind by 2-to-1 in the number of states carried. She slogs on, hoping against hope for a sudden turnaround in the race.

Apart from the psychological reasons for her stubbornness, is there a more subtle political calculation going on?

Is she continuing her race so as to have a platform from which to continue to bash Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) in the hopes of so damaging him that he can’t win the general election? Is she doing this to keep her options alive for the 2012 presidential race? . . .
Morris allows that Clinton is entitled to stay in the race. But he suggests she’s running “a negative, slash-and-burn campaign.”

Morris compares Clinton’s current “negative” campaign to that of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee’s once it was all but certain Sen. John McCain would be the GOP presidential nominee. Huckabee, Morris says, “didn’t knock McCain. He just articulated the case for his own candidacy.”

But according to Morris:
Hillary won’t avail herself of that option because it does not serve her long-term fallback position: a shot at the nomination in 2012.

If Obama is elected this year, he will seek reelection in 2012 and Hillary would have to face taking on an incumbent in a primary in her own party if she wanted to run, a daunting task. But if McCain wins, the nomination in 2012 will be open.

And it might be worth having. McCain will be 76 years old and the Republican Party will have been in power for 12 years. Not since FDR and Truman has a party lasted that long in power. When the Republicans tried to do so, in 1980 and 1992, they fell flat on their face. [Morris is wrong about the GOP in 1980 having “been in power for 12 years.” Democrat Jimmy Carter was president in 1980. But who can blame Morris for trying to forget the Carter years? -- JinC]

Hillary is using white, blue-collar fears of Barack Obama to try to stop him from getting nominated or elected.

She is playing on his “elitism” by hammering him on blue-collar issues and is mincing no words in painting him as a stranger to blue-collar white America.

Hillary is attracting the votes of cops, firefighters, construction workers, union members. Are they in love with Hillary? They can’t stand her.

But they are terrified of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers and the various influences to which Obama seems to be subject.

By playing on those fears, Hillary is undermining Obama’s ability to get elected.
The entire column’s here.


Sen. Clinton's not running "a negative slash-and-burn" campaign. Most of what both candidates have done during the primary campaign amounts to "patty cake" between two of the Senate's most liberal members with identical records.

Yes, Hillary's mentioned Rev. Jeremiah Wright a few times. How could she not? But she hasn't pushed the question about Obama that's troubling millions of Americans: How could he sit in the pews for 20 years and then tell us with a straight face he never knew what Wright was saying?

Moving on.

I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that in her most private moments Sen. Clinton realizes ’08 is very likely not her year and hopes ’12 will be.

But I’d be very surprised to learn she thinks the best way to position herself for ’12 is to now engage in “a negative, slash-and-burn campaign” against Sen. Obama.

That IMO is the worst thing she could do right now.

Assuming he gets the nomination, if Obama wins in Nov. a Clinton “slash-and-burn” now would diminish whatever influence Hillary would have in an Obama administration. She could also find herself somewhat isolated from her Senate Democratic colleagues.

And it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that she’d face a "pay back" primary fight to retain the Dems’ Senate nomination in ’12 when she’s up for reelection.

Looking to ’12, Hillary’s best strategy is to “cool it” now and go the Huckabee route. Then hope McCain defeats Obama during a campaign in which she’s seen as doing all she can to help elect Obama.

If that doesn’t happen, the problems she’s having now getting blacks to vote for her will be nothing compared to the problems she would have with blacks in ’12, even if her opponent were an albino of Swedish decent.

And then there's this question: If somehow Hillary could now wrest the nomination from Obama with a “slash-and-burn,” what would the nomination be worth with millions of angry blacks staying home in Nov. or voting for McCain?

Look for Hillary to start to cool things.


Anonymous said...

"Milions of angry blacks staying home in Nov. or voting for McCain" -------- lovely senario!!

Anonymous said...

John: I don't think you picked up on Morris' main point: Hillary is bloodying Mr. Obama to ensure he loses to McCain, then she moves into position for a run in 2012. She isn't thinking of "having any influence" in an Obama administration because she will be dealing with a one-term Republican president, not a potentially two-term Democrat. And her negative campaigning is quite sufficient to weaken Mr. Obama's possibilities even though her methods aren't as extreme as the Clintons are capable of. I believe Morris has hit on what Rodham-Clinton is up to. There really isn't any other logical explanation for her staying in the fight at this stage.
Look for her to ramp it up a bit as time draws nearer to the convention.
Tarheel Hawkeye

Anonymous said...


"Look for Hillary to start to cool things"

Uh....John, the race war has just started. Hillary is making sure the super delegates understand what she means when she says "the white middle class voters won't vote for Obama". She's correct.

I don't think the Democrat leadership really understands who they are dealing with here. She will never again have the power she has now. She will use it in any destructive way.

Although I am not a HRC supporter, I have gained a grudging admiration for her toughness.


RedMountain said...

I have to agree with the last 2 comments. It would not surprise me to see HRC ramp it up with some major mud slinging in the next few weeks.