While the Republican presidential primary for 2016 ramps up to full speed, the Democratic side seems moribund. A few potential candidates have publicly toyed with the idea of running for the nomination, such as Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, but they’ve been hampered by the fact that they are … er, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. Most assumed that Hillary Clinton would get a clear and singular start in April, but her campaign team tells Politico that they have pushed off the launch until mid-summer:
Hillary Clinton, expecting no major challenge for the Democratic nomination, is strongly considering delaying the formal launch of her presidential campaign until July, three months later than originally planned, top Democrats tell POLITICO.
The delay from the original April target will give her more time to develop her message, policy and organization, without the chaos and spotlight of a public campaign.
A Democrat familiar with Clinton’s thinking said: “She doesn’t feel under any pressure, and they see no primary challenge on the horizon. If you have the luxury of time, you take it.”
And why not? It’s not as if any other Democrats have emerged to pressure her into an early declaration. Even the 2008 cycle had more potential than 2016 at this stage. John Edwards had been on the ticket four years earlier and hadn’t imploded yet, Biden hadn’t quite yet called Barack Obama “articulate and bright and clean” (that took place on January 31st), and Bill Richardson looked like the most qualified candidate in the race. And that accounting doesn’t include Obama, whose candidacy eight years ago looked like a bid to be Hillary’s VP choice or a credibility-establishing effort for a later, more serious campaign.
In contrast, there is no competition on the Democratic side at the moment, not even aspirationally. Martin O’Malley might still toss his hat in the ring, but the end of his two terms as governor in deep-blue Maryland ended ignominiously with the election of a Republican over his hand-picked successor. The Democratic gubernatorial ranks are rather thin at the moment, and populated mainly by either older men or sharp progressives, none of whom appear ready for a national campaign. John Hickenlooper’s perhaps the best of the bunch, but he barely held on for a second term in Colorado. Former one-term Senator Jim Webb wants to run, but he’s as old as Hillary and a terrible campaigner. Hillary doesn’t need a head start to run against Webb, assuming Webb can even get organized with his own head start.
This makes 2016 look even more like a coronation than 2008 was assumed to be, but Mike Allen warns that this perception might be a problem for Hillary, especially with the delay:
The danger – and a reason the plan could be scrapped – is that the comparatively leisurely rollout could fuel complaints among nervous Dems that she is treating the nomination fight as a coronation. Already, her allies are contemplating the possibility that she may not have to debate before the general election.
The solution to that would be to produce a couple of viable alternatives to Hillary. Eight years ago, even a two-year Senate backbencher beat her to the top spot, so that shouldn’t be too tough a task. Elizabeth Warren, pick up the red emergency phone, please …
Besides, Hillary needs the extra time to make her pitch as the Wall Street Progressive, or something:
Hillary Clinton is working to shore up support on the left while not alienating her longtime supporters on Wall Street, as she moves closer to announcing a bid for the White House.
It’s a difficult balancing act for Clinton, who has many ties to the financial world from her time as a senator from New York and is expected to rake in significant cash from Wall Street during the campaign.
The former secretary of State has signaled in distinct ways that she wants to tie her campaign to calls for tackling income inequality and wage growth championed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and the left wing of the Democratic Party. But she wants to accomplish this without coming across as a class warrior or enemy to her old friends.
In recent weeks, Clinton has been discussing how to thread the needle, according to allies. She’s sought out opinions from those on both sides of the Wall Street debate as part of a listening tour of sorts.
She’ll need more than three extra months to square that circle. Maybe the campaign slogan should be Occupy the White House! That’s been her motivation ever since she ran for the US Senate in 2000 from New York, a state in which she hadn’t lived until it came time to find a path for her and Bill to move back into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. At least it would have the ring of truth to it.