Presidential hopefuls start testing waters

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Hillary Clinton, the heir apparent to the throne, may not find smooth sailing as many thought she would. The former first lady, secretary of state and senator has long been expected to walk into the Democratic presidential nomination with nary a concern.

A handful of pretenders like Elizabeth Warren and Jerry Brown have stuck their toes into the discussion but all of the traction and momentum - not to mention the money - is going Ms. Clinton's direction.

But the mutual contempt held by the Clintons and the Obamas was bound to surface and, just like clockwork, the games have begun.

The President this weekend told a gathering that voters in 2016 will be looking for "that new car smell" which was a not-so-veiled slam at the Clintons.

Rest assured, those Arkansas claws will come out as the weeks and months progress and the Democrats are likely to witness a cat fight like none we've seen in recent campaigns.

Now this growing gulf between the two most powerful names in the Democratic party may not bode well for the Democrats come November 2016.

The Clintons will be forced to depend on the President to deliver the key demographics that boosted him into office. But the President seems lukewarm at best to sharing the spotlight and giving the keys to the White House to the Clinton clan.

Going into the 2008 elections, Ms. Clinton was the presumptive favorite to win the nomination by all accounts.

But the public still suffered from Clinton hangover from Bill's years in the White House and voters opted for a phony "hope and change" mantra.

The rest is history.

This time around, Ms. Clinton is far from the fresh face that can excite voters and without the substantial boost of the President, her path to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. may be less than assured.

And although this may make the Democratic ballot somewhat murky, the prospects on the GOP side are even more clouded.

Political pundits can put forth a dozen or more names on the Republican side of the equation and it's anyone's guess who will come out of the field to carry the GOP banner.

Forget "Moonbeam" Brown on the Democrat watch, he's a nonstarter. But keep an eye on Warren, an Obama clone and favorite at the White House who has the potential to be the frontrunner, especially if Clinton cites health or family concerns and takes a pass.

In the world of politics, two years is an eternity. So many issues can arise and so many changes can unfold.

To crown a nominee at this point is potential political suicide.

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill took a huge gamble in 2008 and hopped on the Obama bandwagon very early. It proved to be a political home run.

But this time around, Sen. McCaskill has jumped to the Clinton campaign as one of the earliest and most vocal supporters of Ms. Clinton.

Claire's gamble this time around seems more comfortable than the risk with Obama in 2008.

But given the chill between the Clintons and Obamas and the likely lackluster support that will be offered, it may be far too early to crown anyone at this point.

Or, as Ms. Clinton famously said, "At this point, what difference does it make?"

I guess we'll find out that difference in the months ahead.

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