Wilder’s Wild Pitch for Hillary Clinton

Wilder’s Wild Pitch for Hillary Clinton


It’s not the best sign, politically, when a prominent Democratic pol starts recommending changes to the incumbent President’s re-election bid.  Former Virginia Governor L. Douglas Wilder, the first African American elected as governor of a state, did just that. In a recent Politico column, Wilder opines:

“[O]ne thing Obama can do is reconnect with the 2008 campaign themes he used to barnstorm the nation: “audacity’ and ‘change.’ Since Obama has expressed admiration for the portrait of Abraham Lincoln that Doris Kearns Goodwin paints in ‘Team of Rivals,’ he could do the 16th president one better: He should name Hillary Clinton as his running mate in 2012.

Making the case for Clinton, the former Governor and former Mayor of Richmond doesn’t hide a rather open distaste for the “gaffe prone” Vice-President.  As far as Wilder is concerned, it’s time to let Joe go.

There’s been heavy speculation regarding a Hillary Clinton bid in 2016 once President Obama’s presumed second term ends.  But, this is the first time since 2008 that a prominent Democrat and Candidate Obama surrogate has openly pushed Clinton as a running mate – for 2012.  Known as a legendary political strategist (mainly for winning the Governorship as an African American in the former capitol of the Confederacy), Wilder is typically spot-on in his brutally candid observations on the American electorate.

In an April CNN/Opinion Research poll, 61% of respondents favored the former Senator from New York and unsuccessful 2008 Presidential candidate compared to 57% favoring the President.  That same poll showed only 44% of Americans wanting a second Obama term. A recent Gallup opinion poll released in July showed 61% of Americans liking former President Bill Clinton compared to only 52% for President Obama (interestingly enough, 45% of Americans favored former President George Bush in that same poll).

The Clinton brand could help offset Republican power in red states below the Mason-Dixon Line.  While 2012 will find the GOP nominee consolidating gains in the South, Team Clinton could help rally jaded White working-to-middle class suburban and rural voters in states like PA, OH, IN, MI and NY.

Another plus is that Biden always wanted First Diplomat.  It’s a position he still prefers over the gritty routine of Executive Branch lieutenant – which explains many of the gaffes.  And: was there a deal in 2008? Clinton would run State for four years then prepare herself for a 2012 run.  After two terms of Obama, enter President-elect [Rodham] Clinton in 2016.  It’s plausible.

Some assume the President wouldn’t want two Clintons sucking up oxygen in his Administration. But, will he have a choice if favorability ratings dip into next year?  There is a quiet push for a return of the Clintons, as nostalgia for the ‘90s returns amongst a growing chorus of politicos and progressives disappointed with the current Administration.  Many angrily whisper about the “Chicago Clique,” soberly pointing to happy days when the former Arkansas Governor brought few with him from Little Rock and built a vast network from scratch.

And unsaid in Wilder’s piece is one of the reasons he wrote it: the Black political establishment, young and old, is feeling alienated.  As one of the few highly respected Black political “Godfathers,” many go to Wilder for counsel.  Some African American elected officials, organization heads and prominent political operatives, expecting to play a larger role in the Obama Administration, feel left out.  They miss the days of “open access” and political protection.  A Clinton Vice-Presidency in 2012 followed by a Clinton Presidency in 2016 is being perceived as a return to political glory.