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Hillary 2016 — not so inevitable | New York Post

I wrote a book with the subtitle: “Hillary Clinton Will Be the Next President of the United States Unless ...” Unfortunately, I wrote it in 2005 and published it in 2006 — and my answer to the “unless” wasn’t Barack Obama, but Rudy Giuliani. My book did about as well as it deserved to do. Still, its central contention — that Hillary would be the 2008 Democratic nominee — was entirely uncontroversial when I wrote it, when I published it and for a year afterward. And it would be entirely uncontroversial now for 2016. This time she comes into the race with seemingly insuperable advantages: The best-known Democrat besides the president, she has every benefit of her last name and none of the disadvantages and is revered by many in her party. But all that was true before 2008 as well. So let me caution everyone else against making the same assumption in 2014 that I made in ’05 and everybody else made in ’06. If Mrs. Clinton were a Republican, political history suggests she’d very likely be the nominee, because the GOP has a long history of picking “the next guy in line.” (Ronald Reagan came in second for the nomination in 1976, then won it in 1980. The elder George Bush finished second in ’80 and won in ’88. Bob Dole was No. 2 in ’88 and the nominee in ’96; John McCain, second in 2000 and the nominee in ’08. Mitt Romney, basically the runner-up in ’08, won the nomination in ’12.) Only twice in the past 50 years has someone who’d never run before carried the GOP banner: Barry Goldwater in 1964 (lost) and George W. Bush in 2000 (won). Not so for the Democrats. George McGovern got the nomination in 1972 out of nowhere, as did Jimmy Carter in ’76. Michael Dukakis hadn’t run before he was the nominee in ’88, nor had Bill Clinton when he won in ’92. John Kerry in 2004 and Obama in ’08 each won on his first try. Only three times in the past half-century has the Democratic next-in-line secured the nomination, and in each case, the party failed to take the White House: Hubert Humphrey in 1968, Walter Mondale in 1984 and Al Gore in 2000. So history is actually against Mrs. Clinton on the basis of her inevitability. Democrats tend not to like veterans of the presidential race running for the highest office and don’t like to pick the obvious choice. Nor, it seems, do voters in the general election. Yet you can’t beat someone with no one, which is why the underground Clinton campaign is doing everything possible to make it seem she’s the inevitable choice, and to keep others from considering a run. But there’s never “no one.” Someone will challenge her. The two obvious possibilities are Vice President Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren, the new, left-populist senator from Massachusetts who has positioned herself as the friend of the consumer and the enemy of the banks. It’s hard to see the logorrheic Biden making it all the way through to the nomination without blowing himself up. And Warren may be able to raise money like crazy, but her appeal outside the Northeast and MSNBC left is unclear. So who else? In the past week, riding out of the West, the Hillary spoiler has appeared on the horizon. He is Brian Schweitzer, the ex-governor of Montana. An expert on energy policy, a former rancher and soil engineer, he’s disarming and funny, and he knows how to talk in an interesting way about issues because he’s from a purple state where Democrats don’t dominate. He’s considering the run. He’s been to Iowa. He’s a new face to many Democrats, who’ll discover that he’s as populist as Warren and as vociferously anti-war as Howard Dean ever was. There may be other non-Hillarys to emerge, but Schweitzer’s a pretty good model. And there will be one. Hillary Clinton won’t sail to the nomination. No one ever does.
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