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Lanny Davis: Why I am ready for Hillary

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Last week, on Dec. 4, I helped organize a Ready for Hillary fundraiser in Montgomery County, Md., in the immediate suburbs of Washington, D.C. The organization, an independent grassroots committee, has been at work for the past year gathering millions of names and small donations in support of Hillary Rodham Clinton for president — that is, just in case she decides to run in 2016.  

When I began working on this event, I was not sure many prominent statewide or local elected officials would be willing to sign up on the invitation as members of the host committee, especially because the outgoing Maryland governor, Martin O’Malley, has made it apparent that he is running for president.  

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But what happened surprised me. Many of the major Maryland statewide elected officials signed up, including the attorney general, state treasurer and state Senate president. Early in the week at a Baltimore event, so did Maryland’s two popular U.S. senators: Barbara Mikulski and Benjamin Cardin. In Montgomery County, also leading the host committee were the current popular and recently reelected African-American county executive, Ike Leggett; the revered former county executive Sidney Kramer; and six out of seven members of the county council, including the incoming council president. 

The guest of honor was the congressman representing the location of the fundraiser (Potomac), Rep. John Delaney. The congressman offered three facts about Clinton — the reasons she should be our next president.

First, Clinton’s record and vision for America’s future focuses on economic growth and job creation — and, particularly, on addressing economic challenges still faced today among the working poor and the broad middle class across the nation.  

Second, she is a progressive Democrat who knows how to work with the private sector and with Republicans to find solutions. This is what she did again and again, Delaney pointed out, when she served in the Senate from 2001 to 2009. 

And third, she is by far the most qualified of all potential candidates, Democratic or Republican. No one has Clinton’s combination of years in public service and experience at the state and federal levels, combined with her international and national security/anti-terrorism experience during four years of able service as secretary of State. In a dangerous world, she implemented her “smart power” approach: avoiding over-reliance on U.S. military intervention and, rather, using the “soft power” of America’s economic strength, trade and human rights and democratic values.   

I would add a fourth attribute of Clinton that may be, in terms of electability and ability to govern, most important of all: She is one of the kindest, warmest, most empathetic and caring people in public life today. 

Some people don’t see these qualities in her. I have known Secretary Clinton for more than 45 years. I know that in 2016 more and more people will come to know her as she truly is. 

Proof that this has already begun to happen can be found in her consistently high ratings on personal characteristics in virtually every poll in recent years. Just this past Monday, the respected Bloomberg Politics poll, with a statistically large national voter sample, showed Clinton with significant leads over every Republican presidential aspirant on the four crucial personal / electability questions: Who “cares about people like you?” Who “shares your values?” Who “has a vision for the future?” And who is “a strong leader?”

Finally, there is the issue of gender. Do I believe that people should vote for her solely because she is a woman? No. But should she be supported because she is the most qualified candidate with a vision for the future of America and the ability to get things done — and she is also a woman? Yes.

I have a daughter and two granddaughters. I want to give them a good answer to the question they and many women and girls in America ask: How come there have been women presidents and prime ministers in countries all over the world but never once in America? Up to now, I have not had a good answer.  

Now I have one: With Hillary Rodham Clinton as the Democratic Party nominee in 2016, it’s time. And it will happen.

Davis served as special counsel to former President Clinton and is principal in the Washington, D.C. law firm of Lanny J. Davis & Associates, and is Executive Vice President of the strategic communications firm, LEVICK. He is the author of a recently published book, Crisis Tales: Five Rules for Coping with Crises in Business, Politics, and Life