By A.B. Stoddard - 06/19/13 10:26 PM EDT
Ready for Hillary? You better be.
Just six months into President Obama’s second term, the 2016 coronation for his former rival has begun, and Vice President Biden — ever the bridesmaid, who for three decades has harbored his own presidential hopes — has largely been abandoned by his party. It’s Hillary for president, period.
Clinton herself is endorsing the effort by actively engaging in presidential foreplay as well. When she left the State Department in January (and when Ready for Hillary launched) she was recovering from a blood clot in her brain. She needed sleep, and there were book and speech deals to pen, not to mention another new haircut to get. But hermit no more, Clinton recently made her Twitter debut, complete with flirty “TBD” at the end of her resume. She spoke last week at the Clinton Global Initiative, and adoring rallies by supporters follow wherever she goes, arranged by Ready for Hillary.
Democrats are not wondering what Hillary’s plans are, but working out when they should jump on the bandwagon. Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, an early Obama supporter who has clashed with the Clintons, made her jump on Tuesday, telling The New York Times “a lot of us are using every tool in our tool kit to try and convince her that she should step out and be the nominee of our party.”
Reported rumors of a deal Obama made with the Clintons to support Hillary in exchange for Bill’s help in getting Obama reelected last year have fueled an already tense situation in which Biden only has a chance if Hillary backs down. The parting interview Obama arranged with Steve Kroft of “60 Minutes,” where he effusively, if not awkwardly, praised Clinton’s performance at State and each gushed over their fake friendship, was about as much of a public punch in the stomach Obama could give Biden.
Republicans sure are Ready for Hillary, because they are spending a lot of time focused on her role in the before, during and after of the attack on the Benghazi Consulate last Sept. 11, and we will surely be hearing more about the inappropriate sexual activities of her security team while on official overseas travel. They are also keeping their eyes on her formidable poll numbers. Quinnipiac has her up this week 50-43 percent over former Gov. Jeb Bush and 53-41 over Sen. Marco Rubio in their home state of Florida. Ouch. In the same poll, Biden loses out to both Republicans there.
It is easy to imagine a scenario in which Clinton decides against running — perhaps she faces more health challenges at the very time she becomes a grandmother. Yet her lifelong drive makes running far more likely. For the sake of her party, she’d better. The GOP can worry about its bench being too conservative, too inexperienced or far too mainstream to win the primary battle, but at least Republicans have a bench. Democrats do not. No, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York cannot seriously hope to win the presidency in 2016. And the country is not likely to elect her Empire State Gov. Andrew Cuomo either. Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley? Oh dear.
Indeed, rolling Biden out after Hillary disappoints is not a winning formula. Democrats better hope Hillary is Ready.
Stoddard is an associate editor of The Hill.