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“The Sunday Political Brunch” -- February 9, 2014

Who's Your Pick Democrats: Biden or Clinton?
Who's Your Pick Democrats: Biden or Clinton?
Dr. Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is the Chief Political Reporter for WLNE-TV ABC6 News Providence/New Bedford.

(Providence, Rhode Island) – I’ve said for months that Hillary Clinton is not a shoo-in to be the Democratic nominee for President in 2016. There will be challengers. Vice President Biden hinted over the last few days that he’s in, saying in tortured political-ese, “There’s no obvious reason for me why I think I should not run.” So assuming he’s in, what are the Biden-Clinton dynamics? Let’s dine on this for “brunch!

“Déjà vu All Over Again” – There is precedent for a Clinton-Biden Presidential run, but it’s not pretty. In 2008 Senator Hillary Clinton finished third in the Iowa Caucuses, but still managed to garner 29.5 percent of the vote. Hovering way back in fifth place was Senator Joe Biden with a paltry .9 percent of the vote. Just days later, Hillary Clinton won the New Hampshire Primary with 39.1 percent of the vote, to Joe Biden’s .2 percent. At this point it may be a David versus Goliath race. 

“It’s a Woman’s World” – Hillary Clinton holds a huge advantage among female voters. Consider this: In 2008, Senator Obama may have won the Democratic nomination, but he was badly out polled by female voters in key states. Hillary Clinton beat him among women in California, New York and Florida, by better than 23 percentage points in each state. She also beat him badly in the female demographic in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio and Texas. Of the ten most populous primary states, Obama only beat Clinton among female voters in Georgia, North Carolina, and Illinois. Many women want to see the first woman President, and by huge numbers!  

“International Standoff” – Joe Biden has long been perceived an authority in foreign affairs. He served as Chairman of the prestigious Senate International Relations Committee, or was its ranking member, for nine years. Hillary Clinton, whom many felt was stronger on domestic affairs during her years as a Senator and as First Lady, proved her mettle in foreign affairs in four years as Secretary of State. They may be viewed as equals, though she is likely to continue to be criticized for her handling of the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. But it would be hard for Biden to be her chief critic on Benghazi, since he was in the administration, too. Call it a draw!  

“The Age Old Questions” – If elected President Joe Biden would take the oath of office at age 74 – the oldest ever. Hillary Clinton would be 69 years old, the same age as the oldest President to take office, Ronald Reagan. Really the bigger issue is health – both mental and physical – given the demands of the job. People are living longer and healthier. Reagan was a strong as an ox, but many wonder if he was already suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s in the final stretch of his eight years in the White House. Hillary Clinton has no known major health problems. Biden was treated for two brain aneurysms in 1988, but has not shown any ill effects since. Given the five-year age difference, perhaps a slight advantage Clinton.  

“Coke versus Pepsi” – The biggest problem for both of them is how to differentiate one from the other. They served in the same administration, and it would be hard for one to criticize the other on an administration policy – without taking some of the blame themselves. However Clinton left after the first Obama term, whereas Biden was there for both. Anything that happens bad in the waning years can be theoretically blamed on Biden, but not Clinton (unless there is some dramatic new revelation on Benghazi). So, again, a slight advantage to Clinton – although the gap could widen.  

“The Great Hilldini” – Hillary Clinton has all but done a disappearing act, like Houdini! Yes, she visited a Harlem school this week to talk about early childhood education, but it was not the kind of event that gets national news coverage. This is a wise strategy. There is no need to overexpose herself. She has time to stay out of the limelight and work behind the scenes on organization and fundraising. She can get herself in the best physical and mental shape of her life. In fact, she can be stealth for most of 2014. Again, big advantage Clinton.  

“The Lewinsky File” – Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) who may himself run for the White House, has put forth the improbable notion that somehow Bill Clinton’s indiscretions will hurt Hillary Clinton’s chances. How? I don’t know. I can’t even fathom the logic. Prediction: Monica Lewinsky will not be a factor – for better, or for worse - in 2016.  

“The ‘X’ Factors” – Right now my betting money is that both Clinton and Biden run, and that she is well ahead of him at this point in time. But there are no guarantees. She was way ahead of Barack Obama in the late 2007 polling. We all know how that ended. For weeks we have examined dark horse and long shot candidates in both parties. Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley – a Clinton protégé – is now hinting that he is preparing a 2016 bid, especially if she does not run. At 51, O’Malley will be viewed as part of his party’s future, not its past. We’ll look at him more in depth in the coming weeks, but he poses a real threat and an alternative to both Clinton and Biden.  

Who do you want to see as the Presidential candidates in 2016, from both parties? Just weigh in by clicking the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.  

© 2014, Mark Curtis Media, LLC. 

Photo courtesy: ABCnews.com





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