The Corner

Axelrod: Schweitzer Threat Would Test if Hillary’s Improved as Candidate since ’08

Recent comments from former Democratic Montana governor Brian Schweitzer sparked speculation that he may challenge Hillary Clinton in the 2016 primary, and have David Axelrod wondering if she’s “vulnerable” to such a challenge.

In an interview with The Weekly Standard, Schweitzer questioned Clinton’s progressive credentials, and posited that she may shift rightward due to the overwhelming and seemingly unwavering support from Democrats:

“The question that we have is, will it be the Hillary that leads the progressives? Or is it the Hillary that says, ‘I’m already going to win the Democratic nomination, and so I can shift hard right on Day 1.’ We can’t afford any more hard right. We had eight years of George Bush. Now we’ve had five years of Obama, [who], I would argue, in many cases has been a corporatist.”

While Axelrod thought Schweitzer’s stances on gun control and environmental issues would lose him support on the left, he said if Clinton’s campaign fails, as it did in the early part of the 2008 Democratic primaries, to connect ”with everyday Americans,” then she could be at risk. “The question is did she learn something from that last experience,” he said on Morning Joe on Tuesday.

The threat of Schweitzer “does create an opportunity to reflect on that lesson and see if she’s learned it,” Axelrod added.

Over on the Agenda, our own Reihan Salam writes that Schweitzer is a viable alternative to Clinton, and should give it “serious consideration.”