Former California Democratic Party Chairman Bill Press says the growing email controversy surrounding Hillary Clinton should convince members of his party that an uncontested coronation of Clinton as the party’s 2016 nominee for the White House is a very risky idea and should encourage other Democrats to throw their hats in the ring.
Press is a widely read columnist and television commentator who wrote about his concern over the Democrats essentially stepping aside for Clinton in his latest column. He’s been stunned by the number of Democrats content to allow Clinton a virtually uncontested path to the nomination.
“It dismays me as a former party chair of California, as an active Democrat all my life that we’re hearing, ‘Well, nobody should challenge Hillary Clinton because she is the most experienced person we’ve got. She’s the best candidate we’ve got. She has such a powerful political machine. She can’t possibly lose, so everybody else just get out of the way and hand her the nomination,'” said Press, who argued this is a rerun of a failed strategy.
“That’s exactly what we heard in 2008, and we know how that worked out,” he said. “I think the party’s making a huge mistake in not recruiting other people to run. A healthy, contested primary would be good for Hillary. It would be good for the other candidates. It would be good for the party.”
How did the party come to a consensus on Hillary as the nominee without even a campaign? Press said there are several factors at work.
“There’s a certain group of Democrats for whom the Clintons can do no wrong,” he said. “I think people’s memories are short, and then there’s all this media frenzy and attention to Hillary that some people forget there are other very experienced and talented and qualified Democrats out there. By the way, starting with the vice president of the United States. Hello? Why isn’t anybody talking about Joe (Biden)?”
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Bill Press:
The issue is taking on more importance for Press in light of recent controversies over Clinton’s use of private email on a personal server in her home as secretary of state and the Clinton Foundation accepting donations from foreign governments while she served as the nation’s top diplomat.
“Let’s face it, there may be other shoes to drop, right? And to put all the eggs, if you will, in the Hillary basket is really very foolish for a long-term strategy. If she gets to the middle of the summer and other stuff breaks out and nobody else is out there, then the party’s left empty-handed,” said Press, who believes Clinton’s actions were legal but very “sloppy” and “careless.”
“Nobody has explained why. It’s such an unnecessary set of troubles now for her, for the party, for the Obama administration,” said Press, who believes the good news is more Democrats will seriously consider a 2016 White House bid because of all this.
“I would hope that this scandal over the emails would prompt some people who might have thought of not going for it to take another look at it and to speed up their decision-making process, starting with Joe Biden. He has said he’s going to make his decision by the end of the summer. I think that’d be a big mistake. I don’t think they’ve got that much time,” said Press, who thinks other candidates ought to make up their minds in the next month.
In addition to Biden, Press thinks Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.; Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; would make solid candidates, along with former Gov. Martin O’Malley, D-Md.
Press is quick to add he is not advocating a vigorous primary because he doesn’t want Hillary Clinton to be the nominee.
“It’s not that her time has come and gone,” he said. “I would not say that, but I don’t buy the theory that this is her time, period, and everybody else ought to get out of the way.”
In addition to avoiding a coronation and allowing other candidates a chance to run, Press said a competitive primary would make Clinton a tougher nominee in the general election.
“The worst thing for her would be to be able to take the summer off and to coast, to go into the general election and stand up on stage in her first debate against Jeb Bush or Ted Cruz or Rand Paul, I don’t care whom, and be rusty, not be tested, not be sharp, not be up to date and up to speed on the issues,” Press said.
“It’s like sending someone to the Metropolitan Opera to walk on stage to sing the lead without going through rehearsals,” he added.
Press said the email and fundraising controversies of the past couple of weeks are leading many more Democrats besides him to encourage a competitive Democratic Party primary.
“I think there’s a growing feeling among Democrats that Hillary needs a challenge in the primary, for the good of the party and her own sake,” he said. “(It’s a) big mistake to have a coronation. I don’t think it’s ever worked. I can’t remember in my lifetime when it’s ever worked, and I don’t think it will work this time, either.”