President Obama has quietly promised Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren complete support if she runs for president — a stinging rebuke to his nemesis Hillary Clinton, sources tell me.
Publicly, Obama has remained noncommittal on the 2016 race, but privately he worries that Clinton would undo and undermine many of his policies. There’s also a personal animosity, especially with Bill Clinton, that dates from their tough race six years ago.
A former Harvard law professor and administration aide, Warren would energize the left wing of the Democrat Party just as Obama did against Clinton in 2008.
Thanks to her outspoken stand against big banks and the top 1 percent, Warren is the darling of progressives. She won her Senate seat thanks to millions of dollars in donations from outside Massachusetts, including from rich environmentalists and Hollywood celebrities.
Obama has authorized his chief political adviser, Valerie Jarrett, to conduct a full-court press to convince Warren to throw her hat into the ring.
In the past several weeks, Jarrett has held a series of secret meetings with Warren. During these meetings, Jarrett has explained to Warren that Obama is worried that if Hillary succeeds him in the White House, she will undo many of his policies.
Back in April, Legal Insurrection’s Bill Jacobson wrote of his belief that Senator Warren would “crush” Clinton in the Democrat primaries because she’s even more left wing than Hillary:
Forget the current polling as between Hillary and Elizabeth Warren. It pits Hillary against someone who “isn’t running.”
For all my criticisms of Warren, and they are extensive, I am convinced that if she ran, she would crush Hillary, just as Obama did.
Warren, as did Obama, has a unique ability to demagogue the core Democratic narrative of victimhood in ways that would make Hillary blush. She is more cunning than Hillary, more popular with the base, would bring an excitement the contrived Ready-for-Hillary movement could only dream of. Democrats may be “ready” for Hillary, but they don’t really want her.
He referenced a Byron York piece written around the same time that listed several reasons why Warren should run whether or not La Clinton decides to do the same:
1. Life is unpredictable. Clinton will be 69 years old on inauguration day 2017, nearly the oldest president ever. She has had a few health scares. By all accounts, she left her previous four-year stint in government service exhausted. She might not run, and the Democrat in second place in the polls, Vice President Joe Biden — 74 on inauguration day — is too old to be president. Beyond them, Democrats have nobody — except Elizabeth Warren.
2. Parties need competition. The primary process isn’t just to allow voters to pick a nominee. It’s for the candidates to become better candidates. The rigors of campaigning, the day-to-day jostle with competitors and the stress of high-profile debates all make candidates better. Conversely, a cakewalk through the primaries could leave a nominee in poor fighting shape for a general election. Warren would make Clinton a better candidate, and vice-versa.
3. The Left wants a hero. Clinton has never really excited the most liberal wing of the Democratic Party. They see her as an overcautious centrist like her husband, and on top of that, many have never forgiven her for voting to authorize the war in Iraq. Warren, on the other hand, has thrilled the Left with her attacks on inequality, plutocrats and big financial institutions.
4. Hillary ran a dumb campaign in 2008 and might do so again. For a group of seasoned veterans, the 2008 Clinton campaign showed a stunning ignorance of how to win delegates in a Democratic contest. Rival Barack Obama exploited that weakness brilliantly. For example, Obama collected more net delegates by winning the Idaho caucuses, with 21,000 participants, than Clinton did by winning the New Jersey primary, with more than 1 million voters. Clinton just didn’t pay attention to the smaller stuff, particularly the caucuses, and her cluelessness helped Obama win. It might help another rival in 2016.
5. One more time: Life is unpredictable. This is Warren’s only chance to run. She will be 67 on Inauguration Day 2017. (Has any party ever fielded a group as old as Clinton, Biden and Warren?) A run in 2020 or later is out of the question. Hillary, now struggling to define her legacy as Secretary of State, is running on pure entitlement. The only thing about her candidacy that truly excites the Democratic base is that she would be the first woman president. Of course, that applies to Elizabeth Warren, too. And Warren would present a far fresher face to voters than Clinton, who has been in the national spotlight since 1992.
Heck, I dunno what the future holds for either of them – in spite of the fact that I’ve predicted outright that Hillary will make one last try of it in 2016. As noted above, Senator Warren is an unashamed Massachusetts liberal while Hillary likes to pretend she’s a middle of the road type. Not only that, there is no love lost between the Clintons and the Obamas – in spite of public appearances to the contrary – especially when it comes to Bill and the President, so it certainly wouldn’t be outside of the realm of possibility that Obama has already placed his legacy cards in Senator Warren’s basket, believing she would be a viable female contender for President against Hillary. No matter what happens, though, one thing I’ll be doing over the next few months as decisions are made and announced is stocking up on the popcorn, because things are shaping up to be quite interesting in terms of potential 2016 contenders, at least on the Democrat side ….