What Hillary Clinton's Potential Opponents Are Thinking
Election 2016

What Hillary Clinton's Potential Opponents Are Thinking

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Joe Biden
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JOE BIDEN

VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

WHY HE'D RUN

History. The vice president is a giant in the party, beloved among foreign dignitaries and blue-collar Democrats alike. If he demurred, he would be just the third elected V.P. to do so since the days of Harry Truman. Absent the scandals of Spiro Agnew and the toxic approval ratings of Dick Cheney, his abstention would be all the more surprising.

WHY HE'D STAY OUT

Humiliation. Even with near-universal name recognition and a support network he has cultivated for decades, polls have shown Biden trailing Clinton by as many as 50 points. If he ran and lost in the primary, he’d join an even more exclusive club of recent ex-V.P.spopulated at this moment only by Dan Quayle.

 

Jerry Brown
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JERRY BROWN

GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA

WHY HE'D RUN

Force of habit. He has run for virtually every elected office in California and for president three times, including an acrimonious contest for the Democratic nomination against Bill Clinton in 1992. Having just solved his state’s decades-long budget crisis, he has also put together a record of progressive accomplishments that he can stack up against any other politician in the country.

WHY HE'D STAY OUT

Age. He has even said as much, promising voters in 2010 that they could trust him to stay in Sacramento because his senescence made the White House an impossible goal. In 2016, he’ll be 78 years old.

 

 

Andrew Cuomo
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ANDREW CUOMO

GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK

WHY HE'D RUN

Freud. The New York governor could finally stick it to his father’s Clintonite tormentors and attain the office that the Democratic faithful were grooming Mario for all the way back in 1984. Virtually every move he has made since coming into officefrom establishing his progressive bona fides by legalizing gay marriage to wooing the wealthy with his cautious fiscal measuresseems aimed at creating a socially liberal / fiscally moderate profile.

WHY HE'D STAY OUT

Prudence. If a Republican wins in 2016, Cuomo becomes one of the party’s candidates-in-waiting for 2020. That’s too much to wager on an uphill race against a blue-chipper like Clinton.

 

Howard Dean
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HOWARD DEAN

FORMER GOVERNOR OF VERMONT

WHY HE'D RUN

Fun. Dean lives to piss off the establishmenthe nearly seized the nomination a decade ago by running an insurgent campaign against the party mainstream. As Democratic National Committee chairman, he forced skeptical Democratic power brokers to adopt the controversial 50-state strategy that helped Obama win in 2008. Who’s a bigger VIP to confront than Clinton?

WHY HE'D STAY OUT

Irrelevance. The bulk of his 2004 appeal was built on his opposition to the Iraq War. Although that issue seems to have made its way back into the headlines, the rest of the party has caught up to where he was ten years ago. There’s no natural constituency for him now.

 

Kirsten Gillibrand
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KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND

U.S. SENATOR FROM NEW YORK

WHY SHE'D RUN

Grit and ambition. Gillibrand understands the value in picking a fight, even if it’s a long shot. She pursued her military sexual-assault legislation in the face of bracing opposition from fellow Democrat Claire McCaskill; when Gillibrand’s bill went down, she still emerged with greater notoriety and respect from her peers. The New York senator is also one of the most prolific fund-raisers in the Senate, and it’s obvious she doesn’t want to stay in the senior chamber for much longer.

WHY SHE'D STAY OUT

Loyalty. Gillibrand has been one of Clinton’s most dedicated retainers since the 2000 Senate campaign. She’d be taking a big professional risk in trying to knock off a political mentor.

 

Amy Klobuchar
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

AMY KLOBUCHAR

U.S. SENATOR FROM MINNESOTA

WHY SHE'D RUN

Because why not? By headlining the North Iowa Wing Ding fund-raiser last summer, she positioned herself at the head of the quadrennial parade of candidates to the state. She clearly wants her popularity to radiate beyond the Midwest.

WHY SHE'D STAY OUT

Not quite ready yet. Klobuchar lacks nationwide name recognition, and she has yet to affix herself to any compelling signature issue. She also has a reputation for high staff turnover that could be problematic for a female candidate. What’s more, why run for president when you could spend your life on the highest court? Klobuchar has been a hot name for the last two Supreme Court vacancies.

 

Martin O'Malley
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MARTIN O'MALLEY

GOVERNOR OF MARYLAND

WHY HE'D RUN

Youth. Although his chances of prevailing in a nomination battle might be slim, this is the moment for O’Malley to start building a national profile. He might end up with a V.P. selection as a consolation prize, and even a respectable loss would make him a viable future contender.

WHY HE'D STAY OUT

Youth. O’Malley has plenty of time, and he stands a good chance of alienating Clinton by testing her.

 

Brian Schweitzer
Associated Press

BRIAN SCHWEITZER

FORMER GOVERNOR OF MONTANA

WHY HE'D RUN

Iconoclasm. Schweitzer made waves during his two terms as governor of Montana, staking out conservaDem territory on guns and coal while badgering the party from the left on pocketbook issues. He has a political vision, he likes being in charge, and there are no other promotions for an ex-governor. (He didn’t want to run for Senate this year.)

WHY HE'D STAY OUT

Embarrassment. Schweitzer put both feet in his mouth recently, intimating that Eric Cantor might be homosexual and comparing Dianne Feinstein to a prostitute. Those will be tough statements to explain in a national primary, along with the 2,871 other outrageous things he’ll say.

 

Elizabeth Warren
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ELIZABETH WARREN

U.S. SENATOR FROM MASSACHUSETTS

WHY SHE'D RUN

Possibility. More than even Biden, Warren has a chance to disrupt the Clinton coronation. With an enormous national funding network and ample space to run to Clinton’s left, the Massachusetts senator could become the Barack Obama of 2016 on a platform of progressive reform. At the very least, she’d ensure that the issues she cares most about would get an airing.

WHY SHE'D STAY OUT

Focus. Warren’s priorities are largely concentrated on problems of inequality. As a fast-rising star on the banking committee, she could choose to accumulate seniority and jurisdiction there without the bother of having to eat funnel cake in Iowa.

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