Despite Hillary’s popularity, don’t count Cuomo out of 2016

It is really way too early to handicap the next presidential contest but we can begin to parse what has happened up until now. There’s no question about who New Yorkers will vote for if Hillary Clinton runs for the top office. She’ll get their votes for any number of reasons:

1) They love her. Virtually every poll shows her to be the most admired woman in the world. 2) They love Bill, who retired as one of the most popular presidents in U.S. history and they know that the sixty-five-year-old Hillary was his co-president for two terms. 3) They know that in a world filled with international problems, Hillary has had incredible experience with running U.S. foreign policy. No one knows more than she does. 4) They know that Barack Obama has Hillary’s back and that he owes her big time for helping him in his first successful term. I suspect that he is a man who pays his debts. 5) They know that Hillary will be the first woman president of this country and that it’s about time. 6) They know that she is uncompromisingly tough and knows how to roll with the punches – witness the Monica Lewinsky affair.

Of course Hillary’s health has to hold up and even more importantly, she has to decide that she wants the job. She has indicated that she’s had enough, but it’s hard to believe that she wouldn’t want the very job that she was denied four years ago. How many people would really turn down the opportunity to serve as president?

There may be some tough competition, however. Vice President Joe Biden has proven his mettle again and again and then you have some young upstarts like Martin O’Malley, the fifty-year-old governor of Maryland who would pull well in the southern states and, of course, fifty-six-year-old Andrew Cuomo, who coyly says he’s not interested.

No one should count Cuomo out. He seldom makes a mistake. His recent championing of gun control legislation is gutsy and brilliant. His fury at the way New York has been treated by the federal government in the wake of Hurricane Sandy has to be admired just as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s anger towards his own Republicans is to be admired. Of course, by taking on Washington, Cuomo risks alienating Obama. After all, the president came to New York and New Jersey and promised the people he’d make things right. Finally, Cuomo is young. Biden would be seventy-four if elected. Cuomo has lots of time to finesse the situation and may figure the country wants some younger blood at the helm. He may also figure that his popularity might go down and that this might be his opportunity to grab the golden ring in a game where you seldom get more than one chance at the nation’s top job.

There are other politicians who might be in line for the job. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is a brilliant and very nice man who is adored in the Bay State. He is a very good friend of the president and has always had a major presence in the Obama campaigns. If the president chooses him as the next attorney general, and if he performs as well in that job as he has as governor of Massachusetts, and if he has the stomach for a national campaign, he might well turn out to be a favorite.

So, in order to figure out where we are, you have to analyze all the “ifs”. If Hillary stays healthy and decides to run, she certainly will be the front runner. If she doesn’t run and Joe Biden decides he’s had enough, there will be an open field for all the young Turks including Cuomo who might be better off campaigning for the vice presidential job. As they say in radio, stay tuned.

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