Hillary switch to veep would pave way for 2016 run

She didn’t start here but Hillary Clinton is now a very popular New Yorker. She is so popular that she swamps the very popular Andrew Cuomo in presidential polls, both in New York and nationally. In fact, it isn’t even close. Of course, 2016 is a long way off and anything could happen.

There are some interesting clues to insider politics. Secretary Clinton has announced she is not interested in serving another term. She says she will not campaign for the president. Her husband, Bill, says he wishes his wife would run for the top job. The woman who replaced Clinton in the Senate, Kirsten Gillibrand, says she will be an original signatory to the draft Hillary movement. I can hardly believe she made that announcement without checking with Hillary. A recent New York Times poll shows there has been a reversal in the women vote and that a majority of women now favor Mitt Romney.

Obviously, we have no real idea about what goes on here. But we have to remember that Barack Obama narrowly edged out Clinton for the Democratic nomination to run for president. Maybe, in the immortal words of Marlon Brando in “On the Waterfront,” Clinton is still thinking “I could have been a contender.” Or, maybe there are another thousand reasons why Hillary is saying what she’s saying.

Now the atmosphere is filled with rumors that Team Obama will have to replace Vice President Joe Biden with Clinton. Up until now, everyone has denied the rumor. The president has stated he isn’t making any changes. But winning the presidency is what we call a “mutually exclusive game.” You only get one winner and there are no second prizes. So, if confronted by the cold hard facts that they might lose the presidency, the Obama people may have to ask Clinton and Biden to switch places. Clinton runs for vice president and Biden is offered the secretary of state position. I’m a big Biden fan and I think he has the chops to make a lot of friends for the United States.

Back home in New York one can only wonder how Cuomo is taking to all of this. We know the Cuomos are always thinking six moves in advance. “Is this good for me or bad for me?” If Hillary runs for vice president and the ticket wins, there will be no contest; she’ll be the candidate in 2016. On the other hand, if she doesn’t run there will be more of an Andrew opportunity. Let’s face it, I don’t think Hillary wants to do it and I don’t think that Obama wants to jettison Biden, but when the middle of the night comes and when it’s a question of winning or losing, the hard realities will prevail. It will be a win-win. There have been many times in U.S. history when such difficult decisions have been made. Ike had to live with Nixon who he never really liked. Kennedy had to take Johnson. Without him he just wouldn’t have won. So, unless Hillary is ill or is otherwise indisposed she’ll have to take the offer when and if it comes.

When and if Hillary becomes vice president she will be the font of all patronage and pork in New York. That too may cause a little friction with the Governor’s Office or just the opposite. You just never know. Based on recent polling I really think that this is a no-brainer. The way it looks now, Hillary, if she wins, would be the first female vice president. That’s huge.

Originally published in the Legislative Gazette, 5/29/12

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