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Are Clinton and Trump the New Coke of Politics? Party Establishments May Look to Bring Back Some Classics
Could the 2012 GOP Nominee Come Back to Save the Party?
Could We See a Joe Biden vs. Mitt Romney Presidential Election?
Hillary Clinton was supposed to have the Democratic presidential nomination in the bag. In 2008, when she was overtaken by rookie U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), she played ball and threw her support behind the party's nominee. The primary election loss to Obama, the young black guy with a scant political resume, must have been a terrible blow for the political insider who frequently touted her breadth of experience. Still, despite her wounds, Clinton did her part. She supported her team.
She even accepted a role as Obama's Secretary of State, which was a consolation prize of sorts.
Now, in 2016, Clinton was supposed to have been the inevitable presidential nominee. She had paid her dues. She had done her time. She had quietly stepped aside in 2008 and not made a fuss when the Chicago rookie usurped her path to the White House. But then, in a shocking twist, an older politician came out of left field again and stole her thunder.
Bernie Sanders, a septuagenarian U.S. Senator (I-VT) who has called himself a democratic socialist, entered the Democratic presidential race and quickly drew the biggest crowds of any presidential candidate of either party. Instead of fizzling quickly, the devout progressive has surged in the polls and is now leading Clinton in both Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states to hold their presidential primaries. Aaaargh! This was supposed to be Clinton's time!
And, to make things worse, Sanders' rise has occurred at the same time as Clinton's festering e-mail scandal, making it increasingly unlikely that Clinton can restore her image.
Clinton seems to have been the Democratic Party's "New Coke" that was flat and stale upon arrival. Though the former U.S. Senator (D-NY) and Secretary of State remains the Democratic presidential frontrunner, her image has certainly taken a tainted turn. Worried about a continued Clinton erosion and the possibility that a "socialist" might actually become the party's presidential nominee, Democratic National Committee insiders have apparently been eyeing vice president Joe Biden as a potential savior.
Biden, who had previously seemed to entirely rule out a 2016 presidential campaign, is exploring his chances in the primaries. Many pundits think that the veep, who previously ran for president in 1988 and 2008 before becoming Barack Obama's '08 running mate, will decide to run. Currently, the former U.S. Senator from Delaware is at his political peak as the public and punditry urge him to run and hang on his every word.
And now, out of right field, it appears that Republican National Committee insiders are also seeking an establishment candidate to enter the race. Politico's Matt Latimer opines that the RNC, which is terrified at the prospect of wild card Donald Trump becoming the party's presidential nominee, is probably trying to woo 2012 nominee Mitt Romney into this year's contest. Earlier this year, Romney publicly announced he would not enter the GOP primaries after weeks of speculation. After he slipped back into retirement, Donald Trump became the party's frontrunner for president. Trump, the real estate scion and media tycoon with a penchant for verbal sparring, has turned out to be a noxious, overly-intense "New Coke" for the GOP.
Now that the Republican race has gone haywire, with two political neophytes leading the pack, the establishment is looking for a way to reunite conservatives under someone who might actually win the general election. Though Mitt Romney has many weaknesses, he was an able candidate in 2012 and has reportedly become a more relaxed and likable politician in his retirement. Could a well-rested Romney jump into the GOP race and become the frontrunner...and ultimately win the White House?
Ultimately, I doubt that both Biden and Romney, classic politicos, have the stuff to go the distance. Biden may be very personally appealing to voters, given his authenticity, grandfatherly charms, and emotional recent past, but he is low on accomplishments and prone to verbal gaffes. He is no Barack Obama and will not excite liberals the way Bernie Sanders does. Fans of Bernie Sanders will not be swayed by Biden, and many of Hillary Clinton's supporters will view Biden as a traitor for jumping into the race late to "try and finish Clinton off." Ultimately, if Clinton does bow out after a Biden entry into the race, many of her die-hard supporters may vote for Sanders in the primaries to thumb their noses at the "opportunistic" vice president.
Romney has the look of a president, but has been out of office since January 2007. In political terms, he's a dinosaur. Plus, he has already been a general election nominee and lost on election day. The last person to lose one general election as a major party nominee and later become that party's nominee again was...Richard Nixon. Americans may be leery of inviting a failed general election candidate back into the fold, especially since his liabilities and weaknesses have already been thoroughly revealed.
But is Romney preferable to Trump? I can't say that I disagree. Maybe, in this case, it's better to buy a reliable fixer-upper than the powerful, but unreliable, new ride.