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Tags: Brian Schweitzer

The Soft Underbelly of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Bid



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You are likely to see a lot of stories like this one in the coming years, alleging previously unreported reckless sexual behavior on the part of Bill Clinton while he was in the White House. Some rivals of Hillary Clinton will see this as a liability for her increasingly likely presidential campaign. More than a few people will recall how public sympathy for her exploded during the Lewinsky scandal, and contend these sorts of allegations actually help her; she’s soldiering on during great hardship, etc.

The years of 2015 and 2016 will feature a dramatically different political and economic environment than the late 1990s. In 1998, the country was at illusory peace (the threat of al-Qaeda was building, lurking, and beginning to strike at Americans overseas) and enjoying great prosperity, fueled largely by the dot-com bubble. A White House marriage marked by relentless, crass, and often risky philandering may seem like small potatoes in a time of economic stagnation and global instability . . . or it may seem like one more problem the country doesn’t need right now.

By themselves, tales of Bill Clinton’s affairs, past or present, won’t derail a Hillary Clinton presidential bid. But they may be a bit more baggage for a candidate who has already managed to lose a presidential race she was heavily favored to win.

Presuming he runs, Vice President Joe Biden may prove a bit more of an impediment than the early polling indicates. A Biden 2016 campaign will have a simple message, “Keep it going,” and he will pitch himself as Obama’s third term. Obama fans in the Democratic primary may buy that pitch or they may not, but it will be pretty difficult for any other Democrat to criticize Biden without implicitly criticizing the president.

No matter what the state of the country is in 2016, criticism of Obama in the Democratic primary will be rare. Think back to 2008, and how George W. Bush was rarely directly criticized by the GOP field that year. Once Obama took office, a lot of long-repressed frustration about runaway spending, coziness with Wall Street, and military interventions bubbled up from the GOP grassroots. But partisans find it extremely difficult to criticize “their guy” in the Oval Office, and they don’t want to hear it on the campaign trial.

You may see some subtle criticism of Obama and his policies, but Hillary won’t be able to make it. A governor like Martin O’Malley or Brian Schweitzer may be able to argue it’s time for a new face in Washington, or it’s time for a new generation of Democrats to step up. In 2016, Hillary will turn 68; she won’t be able to easily play the age card against then-73-year-old Biden.

Hillary’s not close enough to Obama to run on his record, but she’s not enough of an outsider to run against Washington. (Remember her foolish friends think she can be sold to the electorate as the Pope Francis of American government.)

Andrew Sullivan, of all people, points out the elephant in the room:

More importantly for me is the inability of her supporters to answer a simple question. I was having dinner with a real Clinton fan the other night, and I actually stumped him (and he’s not easily stumped). What have been Hillary Clinton’s major, signature accomplishments in her long career in public life? What did she achieve in her eight years as First Lady exactly? What stamp did she put on national policy in her time as Senator from New York? What were her defining and singular achievements as secretary-of-state?

Ben Smith’s article in BuzzFeed quotes “a former top Obama aide, who said she would like to see a woman elected but worried that Clinton doesn’t have a compelling rationale for her candidacy.”

The Democratic party of the late Obama years is the party of Elizabeth Warren, who described herself as the “intellectual godmother of Occupy Wall Street,” and the class warfare of New York City mayor Bill de Blasio. By contrast, Hillary Clinton has always been very comfortable with Wall Street, telling Goldman Sachs executives in a paid speech last year that she found banker-bashing foolish. Some liberal blogs call the Clinton Foundation a factory for favor-trading and transactional politics with big corporations. It’s surprising that more Democrats with presidential ambitions aren’t licking their lips in anticipation.

The playbook to beat Hillary was executed by Obama in 2008. A lot of those same criticisms — “manufactured, untrustworthy, and a creature of forgotten Baby Boom quarrels” — are still in play for 2016.

In this Getty photograph from earlier this week, the choice of a new generation of Democrats.

UPDATE: Notice what CNN’s Peter Hamby found in Iowa:

A common theme emerged in conversations about Clinton with more than two dozen Democratic activists, strategists and elected officials during a recent winter week in Iowa: Respect for her within the party runs deep, burnished since 2008 by her tour of duty at the State Department, but widespread passion for Clinton remains wanting.

Can you win a Democratic presidential primary with just “deep respect”? Or is some passion, enthusiasm and inspiration necessary?

Tags: Hillary Clinton , Joe Biden , Bill Clinton , Martin O'Malley , Brian Schweitzer

Another Montana Democrat Turns Down a Senate Bid



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Scratch another potential Democratic candidate in Montana’s 2014 U.S. Senate race:

State Auditor Monica Lindeen says she will not be running for the US Senate. The announcement comes days after former Governor Brian Schweitzer announced he would also not be running for Montana’s open Senate seat.

Tags: Monica Lindeen , Brian Schweitzer

Who Will Represent Montana in ‘The Place Where Things Die’?



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The first Morning Jolt of the week looks at some obscure court-case verdict down in Florida, the Democrats’ cries to investigate the investigator in the IRS scandal, some largely unnoticed big developments in Syria, and then this big news for 2014:

The Stakes Just Got a Little Higher in Every Competitive 2014 Senate Race

The weekend also brought a lucky break for Republican hopes of capturing a majority in the Senate in 2014:

Former Gov. Brian Schweitzer shocked the Montana and national political establishments Saturday with his announcement that he wouldn’t run for an open U.S. Senate seat in 2014 as many had expected.

“I never got in this race,” Schweitzer told the Gazette State Bureau in a telephone interview Saturday morning.

He acknowledged that he considered running for the Senate seat being vacated by longtime Democratic Sen. Max Baucus, but in the end he decided a legislative body isn’t the place for him.

“I’m a doer,” Schweitzer said.

He said he likes to plow half a field in the morning and see the progress by noon before he finishes the job in the afternoon.

“I’m used to being in charge of things, getting things done,” Schweitzer said. “Unfortunately, the U.S. Senate is a place where things die.”

Keep that comment in mind for when Schweitzer inevitably endorses the Democratic tomato can that wins the primary. “I tell you, my fellow Montanans, State Senator John Smith is exactly the right man to serve in the place where things die!” Maybe they should nominate a mortician.

Rick Moran:

Schweitzer would have been a clear favorite going into the race, given his proven vote-getting and fundraising skills. His assumed candidacy explained the reluctance of GOP Congressman Steve Daines to challenge for the seat — a better possibility now that Schweitzer has declined to run.

A Daines bid could create a domino effect:

Two other Republicans, former state Sen. Corey Stapleton, of Billings, and current state Rep. Champ Edmunds, of Missoula, already are in the U.S. Senate race. Edmunds has said he would drop to the House race if Daines goes for the Senate.

Here’s how Politico sees the state of play at this point:

Republicans are favored to win two seats left vacant by Democratic retirements — in West Virginia and South Dakota — and the Schweitzer move will make it much easier for the GOP to win in Montana. That means the battle for the majority will likely be fought in a handful of red states with Democratic incumbents, including North Carolina, Arkansas, Louisiana and Alaska.

Of course, a bunch of avoidable Senate losses in the past two cycles have pretty much beaten the excessive optimism out of us, hasn’t it?

Tags: Brian Schweitzer , Steve Daines , Corey Stapleton , Champ Edmunds

Exit Baucus, Enter Schweitzer?



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Senator Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat who declared Obamacare a “train wreck” and voted against the Toomey-Manchin background-check proposal, will retire instead of running for reelection in 2014.

I suppose some Democrats will insist Baucus did this because he feared the consequences of opposing gun control and standing with the NRA . . . in Montana.

I’m hearing some GOP pessimism, as they fear Governor Brian Schweitzer will run instead. But Schweitzer will face the same questions as any red-state Democrat: Does he think Obamacare is a “train wreck”? Would he have opposed Toomey-Manchin?

And Schweitzer’s colorful personality may create other complications, with past comments like, “I am not goofy enough to be in the House, and I’m not senile enough to be in the Senate.”

“Schweitzer for Senate 2014: Because senility has finally kicked in.”

Two Republicans have already announced Senate bids: state representative Richard Champion “Champ” Edmunds Jr. and former state senator Corey C. Stapleton.

Tags: Max Baucus , Brian Schweitzer , Champ Edmunds , Corey Stapleton

Democratic Governor, Discussing Romney, Brings Up Polygamy



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The attacks on Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith are going mainstream, it seems.

First New York Times columnist Charles Blow.

Then MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell.

Now Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana.

The Daily Beast contacted the office of Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer today to talk about whether his state would be in play in the 2012 presidential election. About a half hour later, the governor called back, and he had a lot to say. He didn’t think that Montana would be a swing state, but the Democrat did say that Mitt Romney could have issues nationally because his father was “born on a polygamy commune in Mexico.”

To their credit, the Obama campaign responded appropriately: The Obama camp’s Lis Smith said, “Attacking a candidate’s religion is out of bounds, and our campaign will not engage in it, and we don’t think others should either.”

However, cynical minds might wonder if there is a strategic outsourcing of the below-the-belt attacks to surrogates not officially affiliated with the campaign.

Of course, if the Democrats want to make this race about which candidate is closer to a polygamist ancestor . . . we can play that game.

Tags: Brian Schweitzer , Mitt Romney

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