Opinion: An Obama-Clinton Ticket? Won't Happen - But These Things Might

Friday, December 30, 2011 - 03:46 PM

The year began with a new Congress that promised to focus on jobs, a State of the Union in which a president turned his focus on infrastructure investment, an anti-worker energy sweeping statehouses and a GOP Primary destined to be dominated by Sarah Palin.

A year can turn out very different from how we imagined it, and it's just proof that predictions are foolish.  But they are also fun, so why not end 2011 speculating about what 2012 will hold? We know it will be a year dominated with election energy - but what can we expect to see, or not see, in the race?

Robert Reich kicked it off predicting an Obama-Clinton Presidential ticket.  So, I'll counter with my own prediction: we won't see it. 

Secretary Clinton may be on the top of the Most Admired People list, and may be doing a broadly praised job at the State Department, but it's a fantasy to imagine her moving to the second seat on the ticket.  The two of them work well together, and it would reinvigorate a certain type of Democratic voter who had been skeptical ever since Obama took the primary prize in '08.  But it creates as many problems for the President as it solves.

First of all, Reich argues that it allows them to focus on international successes rather than domestic stagnation.  Sadly, if the Democrats run on an issue other than the economy, it will only look like one thing: running away from the economy.  They need to tout their successes, but the ticket needs to show it understands that issues one, two and three are jobs, jobs and jobs.

After all, as another winning campaign once noted, "It's the economy, stupid."

Furthermore, despite Reich's claim that Clinton would unify the Democratic base, it was the holdovers from the past Clinton economic team who came to represent the Obama administration's coziness with Wall Street.  Will memories of Robert Rubin and Larry Summers rally progressives?

I don't know what Secretary Clinton will do next, and I'm excited to see where she takes her extraordinary skills (for the sake of disclosure, I worked on her 2000 campaign and in her New York Senate office in 2001).  But it won't be to a residence at the Naval Observatory.

Enough of predicting what won't happen; let's give a shot at what will:

1. Romney-Rubio.  When all is said and done, the guy whose turn it is - Mitt Romney - will overcome all the haters in his own party and fight, outlast and buy his way to the nomination.  For his VP, he'll choose Marco Rubio: a Tea Party darling, the first Latino on a Presidential ticket, and a boost in the Sunshine State.  Plus, it just sounds good.

2. Obama-Biden.  As much as it's fun to fantasize about who else would fill out an Obama second term, and how that sets up the 2016 race, I don't think we've seen the end of Joe.  As the Obama team battles with stagnant employment numbers, Biden is the ambassador to the white working class of key states like Pennsylvania and Ohio who sends the message that they are represented in Washington.  His presence on the ticket signals that the Obama administration is confident in its record, dispelling any news cycles about self-doubt.  And confidence is something the President needs to show the country.

3. In the end…Obama beats Romney.  The progressive base turns out more dutifully than far-right conservatives.  Romney never wins any hearts and minds in middle America.  The Tea Party will have lost its way, and progressive campaigns in a handful of states will bring out new voters and big numbers.  The economy won't be strong but will be creeping the right way.  And the power of incumbency seals the deal.

That's not to say I think the President is doing A+ work.  I want progressives to push him - from continued Occupy actions, to dynamic candidates of the 99 percent - and make him a better leader.  But in the end, the centrist incumbent will best the convictions-challenged challenger.

And we can start taking bets on 2016.

Looking forward to 2012, and to seeing just how far off my conventional wisdom is by this time next year.

Happy New Year.


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Comments [7]

Craig Stafford from Washington, DC

There is no doubt in my mind and in the minds of progressives, independents, the women, African Americans, the working class and the centrist democrats that an Obama-Clinton ticket will be a landslide victory. So much so that we may revisit the brutal landslide of Reagan v. Mondale in the 1984 Presidential Election.

This option should not be thrown under the bus. You mention Biden's ability to get states such as Pennsylvania and Ohio, but Hillary will get those two states and the Southern states, such as Arkansas, who do not favor Obama-Biden at all. Many voters would feel enlightened and optimistic that the Clinton policies of the 1990s could resurface under Hillary's tutelage as VP. She certainly would have Bill in her corner, and both would be in the White House helping the president make the best decisions to better this economy.

I would also avoid assuming that Hillary's State Department credentials would inundate all other areas as VP. She has experience in an array of other areas, and needless to say, may Joe Biden could be the Secretary of State. Or at least Kerry.

The point is: An Obama-Clinton ticket surely would supersede the Tea Party, conservatives and those who are "unsure". It will also place bets on the 2016 election. Who would ever doubt her not preparing for that? So if the Dems want to hold onto power for another 8-12 years, an Obama-Clinton ticket is recommended.

Jan. 18 2012 04:34 PM

Our well intentioned Democrat friends should not make the same blunder that the well intentioned British officer made in "The Bridge on the River Kwai". He sought to prove the skill and professionalism of the British soldier not by undermining the Japanese but building them a great bridge which means they would undermine the British.

The Democratic Party should be proving how their policies will empower and advance the nation as a whole and not empower and advance the Democratic Party at the expense of the nation. In 2016 if China over takes the USA as an economic superpower will progressives be like that British officer exclaiming in shock, "What have I done" while the rest of cry "madness...madness"?

Jan. 01 2012 02:43 PM
Jack Jackson from Central New Jersey

Justin - I think you are (mostly) right, my antenna says it will be Romney-Christie, not Romney-Rubio. The outspoken NJ governor would give the ticket a measure of conservative magnetism that all the other candidates cannot. Romney's weakness is that conservatives are unsure that he is one of them. His running mate will have to diffuse that issue.

I agree that Obama-Biden will beat Romney/Mr. X but that is not certain. If the President can goose aggregate demand - financed by the payroll tax cut for now - we just may cut unemployment to under 8% by election day. It will be fun to watch the GOP squirm to keep it above 8.5% yet claim the job creators need more government protection. That they've kept their focus on 'jobs, jobs, jobs' as Mr. Boehner told the electorate back in November, 2010.

As interesting? Can the Dems get 25 seats to make Pelosi the speaker again? My personal wish is that fatigue casts out most of the freshman Tea Party candidates. I doubt that either side will get the 61 seats needed to beat a Senate filibuster - well, maybe, if the local Democrats scream loud enough every time the GOP filibusters in 2012...but I doubt they will.

Me? I am deliberatly tuning out of election politics until September. I'll save my stomach lining for something else.

Jan. 01 2012 10:49 AM
juan pena

2016 will see a Clinton-Obama ticket, only the Obama will be Michelle. They'll win in a landslide, gaining virtually every female and minority vote in the country and losing only the votes of those white male diehards who refuse to accept that society has already become a matriarchy.

Dec. 31 2011 11:45 PM

"And we can start taking bets on 2016"
By 2016 a communist dictatorship called China which oppresses its people will probably be the world's top economic superpower courtesy of American "progressives" which means all bets are off.
Will the new "dynamic candidates of the 99 percent" who will oversee the decline of the USA be the new top one percent controlling the other 99 percent for their own good?

Dec. 31 2011 04:47 PM
Laura from Calif

HILLARY 2012! Obama is the one who must dissapear from the ticket if Dems want to win the WH, and the only way to do it is with this extraordinary woman at the top. HILLARY 4 PRESIDENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dec. 30 2011 08:33 PM
Russell Dee

I think that an Obama/Clinton ticket would fire up the base in a very big way. I think it would be extremely formidable, except for two problems:

1. If President Obama replaces Joe Biden with Hillary Clinton it will look like President Obama is desperate and lacking confidence.

2. If president Obama replaces Joe Biden with Hillary Clinton it will look like President Obama is lacking in a sense of loyalty because he will have let Biden go for no reasonable reason. Loyalty is a sign of character or lack of character so if Obama does replace Biden with Clinton then Obama better have a VERY good reason. It better seem like there was no alternative.

3. I like Joe Biden. Yea he makes some gaffs but he really is a smart and nice man. On the other hand, Hillary Clinton would fire up the electorate in a way Joe Biden can not do so. She would cancel our any hispanic vote benefit Romney would get from Rubio plus she would really haul in the woman vote, and she's tough enough to bring in some male votes too. Wow! She would be a great VP selection but for the fact that there really isn't a reasonable reason to replace Joe Biden with Hillary Clinton.

Dec. 30 2011 06:25 PM

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