The Corner

Hunt Handicapping Hillary’s Campaign: ‘Luxury Ocean Liner’ with ‘Lots of Barnacles’

The most conventional of wisdoms in Washington is that Hillary Clinton is running for president and is the on-odds favorite to be sworn into office on January 20, 2017.

But Al Hunt, a Bloomberg View columnist with impeccable sources inside the Democratic party, says not so fast in his latest column.

First, he says that personal considerations could prompt her not to run — he cites a “smart Clintonite” who gives her candidacy an 80 percent chance of actually launching.

Second, being a front-runner presents problems. The current structure of her nascent campaign paints a “picture of a Washington and establishment-heavy machine with inevitable and outsize factions and frictions [that] should raise caution flags. . . . A Clinton confidant worries the Hillary machine is like a huge, luxury ocean liner that has collected lots of barnacles.”

Hunt goes on to note that  in 2007, Hillary she “picked the wrong people to run her campaign, and it cost her. This time, she can ill afford to repeat that mistake or have a campaign run by committee.” That is why she will need a general manager who is “versed in modern politics, who can take control and prepare for a bitter campaign.”

He certainly thinks it’s possible for Hillary to make the right choices. He recalls a time “in the late spring of 1992 when a presidential candidate named Clinton was struggling toward the nomination; all his associates seemed to have a piece of the action, requiring a high-level conference call with more than a score of participants.” The situation was so desperate that “an intervention ensured. James Carville was put in charge. Bill Clinton was elected president. The person who ordered that change was Hillary Clinton.”

Hillary’s election is certainly possible. But it’s nothing like inevitable — recall Barack Obama’s success in derailing her in 2008.