There are some interesting clues to insider politics. Clinton has announced that she is not interested in serving another term. She says she will not campaign for the president. Her husband, Bill, says he wishes his wife would run for the top job.
The woman who replaced Clinton in the Senate, Kirsten Gillibrand, says she will be an original signatory to the draft Hillary movement. I can hardly believe she made that announcement without checking with Hillary. A recent New York Times poll shows there has been a reversal in the female vote and that a majority of women now favor Mitt Romney.
Obviously, we have no real idea about what goes on here. But we have to remember that Barack Obama narrowly edged out Clinton for the Democratic nomination to run for president. Maybe, in the immortal words of Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront, Clinton is still thinking, “I could have been a contender.” Or maybe there are another thousand reasons why Hillary is saying what she’s saying.
Now the atmosphere is filled with rumors that Team Obama will have to replace Vice President Joe Biden with Clinton. Up until now, everyone denied the rumor. The president has stated that he isn’t making any changes. But winning the presidency is what we call a “mutually exclusive game”; you only get one winner and there are no second prizes.
If confronted by the cold hard facts that they might lose the presidency, the Obama people may have to ask Clinton and Biden to switch places—Clinton runs for vice president and Biden is offered the secretary of state position. I’m a big Biden fan and I think he has the chops to make a lot of friends for the United States.
Back home in New York, one can only wonder how Gov. Cuomo is taking to all of this. We know the Cuomos are always thinking six moves in advance—“Is this good for me or bad for me?”
If Clinton runs for vice president and the ticket wins, there will be no contest—she’ll be the candidate in 2016. On the other hand, if she doesn’t run, there will be more of a Cuomo opportunity. Let’s face it, I don’t think Clinton wants to do it and I don’t think that Obama wants to jettison Biden, but when the middle of the night comes and it’s a question of winning or losing, the hard realities will prevail. It will be a win-win.
There have been many times in U.S. history when such difficult decisions have been made. Ike had to live with Nixon, who he never really liked. Kennedy had to take Johnson; without him, he just wouldn’t have won. So unless Hillary is ill or is otherwise indisposed, she’ll have to take the offer when and if it comes.
When and if Hillary becomes vice president, she will be the font of all patronage and pork in New York. That too, may cause a little friction with the governor’s office—or just the opposite. You just never know.
Based on recent polling, I really think that this is a no-brainer. The way it looks now, Hillary, if she wins, would be the first female vice president. That’s huge.
Alan S. Chartock is president and CEO of WAMC/Northeast Public Radio and an executive publisher at The Legislative Gazette.
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