Monday, May 15, 2006

Can Gore Derail Clinton?

Susan Estrich believes that the one candidate who could defeat Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for President is Al Gore. His move since 2000 to the hard left wing of the party could spell trouble for Clinton in the next election. Estrich also argues that Gore would likely lose in the general election.

Gore beating Clinton is possible, but I have my doubts. While Gore certainly has gained a fan base among the party's leftists, he also is a notoriously poor campaigner who has had more fanfare than influence over the last 5 years. Don't forget his endorsement of Howard Dean for President just before Dean went into free fall in late 2003, early 2004. In addition, while the far left has become quite critical of Clinton lately, it is hard to imagine that many left wingers won't return to the one who many on the left considered to be their dream candidate only a few years ago. This could mean that Clinton could hold the centrist portion of the party while siphoning off votes from the far left.

In fact, assuming that Gore falters in such a race, his candidacy may turn out to help Clinton by making her appear more moderate. After years of her being considered the true liberal in her marriage (as opposed to Bill Clinton's pragmatic streak), who would have thought 5 years ago that Hillary Clinton might have the opportunity to run as a moderate Democrat. It is hard to believe she could pull that off in a general election, but the primaries may provide her with momentum in that direction.

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