“Don’t tempt me,” Hillary Clinton retorted to the president’s sarcastic tweet encouraging her to enter the race for a 2020 rematch of 2016.
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve noticed Clinton quietly inching toward entering the volatile race. She still has a few weeks before next month’s earliest deadlines to register for ballot access. As the Washington Post notes, “Hillary Clinton is suddenly everywhere these days, except for where roughly 66 million Americans wish she were, which is the White House.”
She’s not being subtle. Her stealth bid began with her staging photo of herself behind a replica of the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office. With two of the three first-tier campaigns for the Democratic nomination in turmoil (Sanders had a heart attack and Biden’s Ukraine scandal) Clinton appears to have an opening.
Ah, but there’s still Elizabeth Warren, who might seem like the front-runner because of her crowd sizes, poll numbers, and fundraising. But as sure as the dewfall, bad things happen to those who stand in Hillary’s way. And sure enough, the headlines suddenly have turned against Warren, too.
CBS published a revival of the controversy over Warren’s claim that she was fired from her first job because she was pregnant. CNBC shone a light on the uncomfortable tally of all the new taxes Warren is proposing to pay for her coming utopia. Barron’s opined that the mere perception of Warren’s front-runner status drove down the stock market as the billionaires are beginning to worry that she’s no longer winking when she promises to soak the rich.
The Intelligencer repeated a similar theme, “Wall Street to Silicon Valley are taking the lead in demonizing her, for good reason: She’s a threat to their bottom lines and their all-but-sovereign business practices.” Vox has even trotted out a headline technique usually reserved for its attacks on Trump, “Elizabeth Warren suggests, without evidence, that Facebook changed its political ad rules after meeting with Trump.”
Pollster Nate Silver even publicly opined that Warren might be “too far to the left” to be electable. He further suggested that the coverage of Warren had been too favorable and that it was time for the media to take another look.
Then there’s the Washington Post’s recent piece which contains this startling gaffe (that is, when a member of the Washington press corps accidentally tells the truth): “The media isn’t organized enough to coordinate behind a candidate even.”
Clinton Remains a Formidable Foe
Never fear, there’s a candidate with the resources and experience to organize the media. That was the central revelation behind the Wikileaks emails: Hillary Clinton is a master of organizing the media.
Clinton possesses an impressive inventory of assets. While Warren has raised $35 million for her campaign, that’s a tiny drop in the bucket compared to what Clinton raised in 2016 (more than 20 times that figure!).
Clinton drew much of that money from an impressive network of rich donors. In fact, the rich will play a huge role in be-knighting the eventual Democratic nominee as America’s top 1 percent have overwhelmingly gone blue. We can assume that those friendships and alliances remain accessible to Hillary.
Further, it’s not clear that the Democratic National Committee ever freed itself from Clinton’s influence. Donna Brazille, the former interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, points out that Hillary for America assumed 80 percent of the DNC’s $24 million debt and loaned the DNC an additional $2 million. According to Brazille, in exchange for financing, the DNC sold critical controls over its operation as memorialized by a “joint fundraising agreement.”
In Brazille’s opinion, the alliance allowed Clinton to box out Bernie Sanders before the first primary vote would be cast. The DNC is in charge of a myriad of rules regarding debate structure, the sharing of donor information, and connections with mainstream media. Having the DNC working as an arm of a primary candidate’s campaign is a proven formula for obtaining the party’s nomination.
In 2016, Clinton secured 400 superdelegates before the first vote was cast in the primary process and that support allowed the press to declare her the nominee earlier than they otherwise would have done. A “superdelegate” is somebody given a vote in the Democratic Convention by virtue of his status—not because of a primary or caucus.
Clinton’s network might also give her another “superdelegate” (now referred to as, “automatic” delegates) advantage in the 2020 convention. It’s estimated that approximately one-sixth of the delegates in the 2020 Democratic Convention will participate without having been directed by a primary or caucus. While these superdelegates are now prevented by a rule from casting votes in the “first round” of the convention, they remain a potential kingmaker if no clear front-runner emerges from the primary process.
“The 27th Candidate”
Somebody is also spending money to poll-test a Clinton candidacy. Noting “some have speculated that if Joe Biden falters in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton will jump in,” Rasmussen went to the expense and trouble of conducting a poll pitting as yet-unannounced Clinton against President Trump. Indeed, she’s already lined up an endorsement from influential San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown.
In September, CNN referred to Clinton as the 27th candidate lurking in the wings. Perhaps the farcical Ukraine story, one that so clearly has been orchestrated and staged as a public relations campaign, might be as much about clearing the obstacle presented by Biden as it is about Trump. The Ukraine story is also starving Warren of vital attention and name recognition while it bloodies up Biden.
Clinton recently said that Trump “is an illegitimate president.” This raises the question: Who, in Clinton’s mind, is the legitimate president if not Trump? It’s not exactly a leap of logic to infer that Clinton considers herself entitled to sit behind the real Resolute Desk in the White House.