Run, Lizzy, Run!

Hill and El

Re-posted from National Review Online, April 30, 2014

Whenever two or more Republicans gather together at their exclusive country clubs and polo matches, two questions invariably come up. First, who will be the party’s nominee in 2016? Second, will Hillary run?

But now there’s a new question so intriguing it causes Republicans to do champagne spit-takes and gag on their caviar. Will self-styled populist heroine Elizabeth Warren throw her headdress in the ring?

Fans of the Democratic senator from Massachusetts believe she has a chance to defeat Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, even though Warren insists she is “not running” and hopes Hillary Clinton will run.

Regardless of what Warren is saying now, however, many Republicans think that eventually she will be persuaded to launch a campaign against the “icon” known as Hillary Clinton. Republicans desperately want to believe that Democrats are ready for a new face — a more liberal face who more accurately reflects the party’s overall tilt to the left.

Republicans have good reason to hope that might happen, because a polling reality check indicates that every 2016 potential GOP candidate currently loses to Clinton by an average of 10 percentage points.

That leaves Republicans with a fantasy that Warren is the only one who can stop, or at least weaken, the advancing Ready for Hillary war machine.

A leading GOP campaign strategist who spoke on condition of anonymity tells National Review Online Warren will catch fire with the Democrats:

“Lizzy Warren is warming to run, you can just smell it,” he says. “She is the most exciting populist since Hubert Humphrey. Warren is plugged in and turned on to what really gripes the middle class. It you think Barack Obama has been scary to business, wait until Lizzy Warren slips into the driver’s seat. I defy you to watch a YouTube clip of her questioning some hapless SEC bureaucrat, you will jump off your couch in excitement. At 64, Warren has caught her wind and she is flying.”

Is this GOP campaign strategist seeing the future?

Aside from Republican views on a Warren candidacy, one must consider the media’s interest in perpetuating a Hillary-vs.-Warren showdown. Both the mainstream and conservative media stand to earn higher ratings if there is a Democratic-primary “catfight” rather then the boring coronation of Queen Hillary.

However, as pundits drive speculation about a Warren presidential run and many Republicans pray that she will gather strength, it is “the people” who have yet to board the Warren bus. According to the latest polls, Democrats support Clinton to be the Democratic nominee by a whopping 53.5 percent point spread.

The Real Clear Politics average shows that 65.8 percent of Democrats prefer Clinton over Vice President Joe Biden by 12.3 percent. Warren earns only 5.7 percent support. There is a strong case to be made that the media are creating smoke from an imaginary fire.

But 2016 is an eternity away in politics, and time may be on Warren’s side. A real possibility exists that Hillary may have peaked too soon.

Presently Warren is on a national media tour promoting her new book, aptly named “A Fighting Chance.” Warren is being coy, but as Christopher Bedford noted the other day, the book is an obvious campaign curtain-raiser.Thanks to all the exposure and increased name recognition, along with the new revelation that Hillary Clinton is favored by Wall Street Republicans, you can expect Warren to gain even more momentum as the official Democratic spokeswoman for the shrinking middle class and all those victimized by income inequality that Democratic base voters believe is perpetuated by Wall Street.

Republicans could boost Warren’s 2016 chances against Clinton by making “secret” campaign donations and promoting a “Warren weakens Clinton” theme in the conservative media. Do not be surprised if Rush Limbaugh launches a new version of “Operation Chaos,” his 2008 campaign to prolong Hillary’s nomination fight against Barack Obama in the Democratic primary. It would be almost too ironic if a 2016 version of Operation Chaos were launched against Hillary Clinton. (Note to self: Suggest this to Limbaugh.)

One thing I neglected to mention: When two or more Republicans are riding out on a fox hunt and the talk turns to politics, there is always someone who reminds the group that Hillary was “inevitable” as the Democrat presidential nominee in 2008 — until she was defeated by an underdog liberal freshman senator who captivated the media by being a fresh face with a populist message.

With no strong Republican presidential candidate having emerged against Clinton, the GOP has good reason to “support” Warren in order to derail Clinton’s nomination and leave the Republican candidate facing left-of-center senator from Massachusetts who could be easier to defeat.

But I am mindful of the old saying, “Be careful what you wish for, because you might get it.”