Could a third time be the charm for Hillary Clinton?
That’s the case made by two prominent Democrats who claim a “perfect storm” of President Biden’s plummeting job approval ratings, Vice President Kamala Harris’ own unpopularity and the commander-in-chief’s advanced age could provide an opening for the former first lady and secretary of state.
“She is already in an advantageous position to become the 2024 Democratic nominee,” political consultant Doug Schoen and former Manhattan Borough President Andrew Stein write in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal of the 74-year-old Clinton.
“She is an experienced national figure who is younger than Mr. Biden and can offer a different approach from the disorganized and unpopular one the party is currently taking,” they add.
If Democrats lose their House and Senate majorities in November’s midterms, Schoen and Stein argue, Clinton can capitalize on the losses “as a basis to run for president again, enabling her to claim the title of ‘change candidate.’”
A survey last week from YouGov cited by the authors showed that 50 percent of Americans had an unfavorable view of Biden, while 51 percent disapproved of Harris. The same poll found that just 38 percent of Americans thought Biden was doing a good job handling the economy and jobs, while just 42 percent approved of his response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Schoen and Stein, those numbers — plus the fact that Biden would be 82 on Inauguration Day 2025 and the absence of another obvious candidate — “have created a leadership vacuum in the party, which Mrs. Clinton viably could fill.”
The two note that Clinton, who lost the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama in 2008 and was defeated in the 2016 election by Republican Donald Trump, recently warned her party of the political consequences of aligning too closely with progressive policies.
“I think that it is a time for some careful thinking about what wins elections, and not just in deep-blue districts where a Democrat and a liberal Democrat, or so-called progressive Democrat, is going to win,” Clinton told MSNBC’s Willie Geist in an interview last month.
The former senator from New York also took a shot at the Biden White House and the Democrat-controlled Congress, saying that while she was “all about vigorous debate … at the end of the day it means nothing if we don’t have a Congress that will get things done, and we don’t have a White House that we can count on to be sane and sober and stable and productive.”
Schoen and Stein also pointed out that Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, told People magazine in a recent interview that not electing her in 2016 was “one of the most profound mistakes we ever made.”
The two predict that Biden’s push to remove the Senate filibuster to pass election reform legislation will “weaken” the administration’s agenda further after the failure to pass the Build Back Better Act.
“Barring a major course correction, we can anticipate that some Democrats will lose important House and Senate races in 2022 — in part for the reasons Mrs. Clinton identified — giving Republicans control of both chambers of Congress,” write Schoen and Stein, adding that they “anticipate” Clinton will begin to position herself after the midterms “as an experienced candidate capable of leading Democrats on a new and more successful path.”
“Mrs. Clinton can spend the time between now and midterms doing what the Clinton administration did after the Democrats’ blowout defeat in the 1994 midterms: crafting a moderate agenda on both domestic and foreign policy,” Schoen and Stein say.
“This agenda could show that Mrs. Clinton is the only credible alternative to Mr. Biden, Ms. Harris, and the entire Democratic Party establishment.”