February 14, 2014, 05:00 pm
Clinton mania could damage Dems
By A.B. Stoddard, columnist, The Hill
Earlier this week as I finished a radio interview, the host said "we ran out of time and didn't get to Hillary Clinton." I reminded him not to worry, we will be talking about her for the next three years.
Imagine that. Even if Clinton doesn't run, unless and until she officially announces she has no intention of joining the race (like we can imagine that?), she leads the 2016 discussion as potential candidates in both parties are considered. If not a candidate, Clinton will still be news every time she opens her mouth about the other candidates. What will Bill Clinton do for the nominee if she doesn't run, and on and on.
In my recent column on Hillary, I noted that she really can do little to change the topic. She isn't new, young, fresh. She's the the furthest thing from an outsider.But whether she means to or not, Clinton's very presence as the 800-pound gorilla in the room ultimately taxes the party. Everyone who wants to run pretty much knows to get out of her way — or else.
Believing she will be president, many Democrats are in a state of near-worship, hoping their careers will flourish from connection and loyalty to her and her husband. Donors are waiting for Clinton, not helping any one else they fear would be crushed by her if she runs. Clinton's dominance is discouraging a bench, preventing a future field of possible Democratic presidential candidates. And for Democrats there is nothing good about that.The GOP may not be able to beat Clinton, no matter who they run. Yet those who take the plunge, and anyone who takes her on, will likely lay groundwork for a future run. The Republican bench is largely young and inexperienced, but the bench, nonetheless, is deep. Jeb Bush aside, plenty of Republicans interested in running in 2016 could potentially win in years to come.
Democrats have Clinton, Vice President Biden, who is being not-so-subtly discouraged from running, and pretty much no one else. Sure, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo would like the job, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) would too, but can we picture either winning the presidency? A stretch indeed.
Should Clinton wait too long to let her intentions known, the non-Hillarys will have lost precious time on building the necessary infrastructure to win a national campaign for the White House. And that would make her sitting out 2016 twice as good for Republicans.