During a speech at the FRED conference (?) in Denver this week, Colorado Democrat Governor John Hickenlooper took a friendly fire question from one of his supporters. Shouldn’t he consider running for president, given the current state of the field? The Guv blew the actual question off with a laugh but then launched into something of a stream of consciousness on the state of the race and the candidates on both sides which probably says quite a bit about the state of his party.

Essentially unprompted, Hickenlooper started in on Hillary Clinton, making it clear that he was a big supporter but also expressing concerns that the Democrats’ ship may be taking on water. (Denver Post)

Unlike most Republican candidates, Hickenlooper said he believes Clinton has the necessary background needed to run the country.

“But,” he added quickly, “I don’t know where this whole thing is going to go in terms of her … (email) server and whether there is something in there that is really going to turn out to have broken the law — which I think would be the death knell.”

If that were the end of the remarks this entire exchange probably wouldn’t be worth commenting on, but he launched into a critique of the GOP field which seemed to give an even deeper look into his rather dismal view of the race. The startling bit here was that he started with what sounded like it was going to be an attack on Donald Trump, but almost immediately ran up the white flag.

In terms of the Republican candidates, Hickenlooper blasted Donald Trump but suggested the audience shouldn’t underestimate his campaign.

“Donald Trump is saying something that not just Republicans but a lot of people are responding to,” he said. “I think there’s a tremendous frustration that we have all these laws that aren’t being obeyed and that there is this kind of vacuum in our society. The middle class really is getting left behind.

“He is saying the wrong things,” Hickenlooper continued. “But I am old enough that I remember laughing when Ronald Reagan” first surfaced as a presidential candidate.

“So I don’t ever rule Trump out,” Hickenlooper added. “Like the rest of you, I don’t agree with what he is saying — and it makes my blood run cold. I’m very fearful.”

Where did that come from? What happened to keeping up the spirits of the faithful and supporting the home team? If that was intended as an insult to Trump, it’s one that The Donald would probably bring up proudly in his next stump speech if anyone showed it to him. In the course of only a few breaths he went from saying how wrong the GOP frontrunner is to comparing him to Reagan, finishing up with admitting that Trump frightens him like a bogeyman in the closet.

So what of the rest of the field? Hickenlooper tosses a semi-endorsement to both Jeb Bush and John Kasich, saying that they are the only two in the field who have the background to step in and run the country.

Was the Governor aware that he was addressing supporters? I suppose the more suspicious side of my inner voice wants to believe that he was cleverly trying to push the two most establishment candidates in the field because they might follow Romney’s path and set up a doable win for Hillary. But crediting Republicans with being ready to take charge and lead the nation is another curious turn of phrase to pop out spontaneously from a sitting Democrat governor.

How much of this is going on in DNC circles? If these are the dark thoughts haunting the mind of John Hickenlooper and they are shared by others in his party, we might be doing a little better than I thought.