Lanny Davis: An earlier start for the presidential race? Really?

Many political pundits and Republicans are hyperventilating about the news that former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonJeff Bridges: ‘I’m rooting’ for Trump as a human being Leading Pelosi critic Moulton once penned effusive praise for her: report Dems land top recruit for Ros-Lehtinen's Florida district MORE may actually wait a while longer before making up her mind whether to run for president of the United States. 

How could she delay? How dare she? If you do a Web search on the words “Hillary Clinton” and “waiting too long” you will get millions of hits (whatever that means). 

For the media, this is a crisis of major proportions. If Clinton continues to wait for months and months to decide, just imagine all the loss of expense-account-paid campaign trips, front-page column inches, breathless “just breaking” cable news 24/7 reports, all the “gotcha” moments. Imagine the media’s impatience to write the stories with headlines already written, waiting to be published when and if she announces: “Hillary’s rusty,” “More Hillary gaffes,” “Boring Hillary front-runner campaign” and — the one we know is coming, must be coming, not whether but when — “Hillary Clinton wins by less than expected — campaign in disarray.”

Many writers say she shouldn’t delay, or else Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren goes on tweetstorm over GOP ObamaCare repeal bill Warren: Dems should campaign on single-payer healthcare plan Senate Dems step up protests ahead of ObamaCare repeal vote MORE will run. Put aside that Warren has repeatedly stated that she isn’t going to run — perhaps because she and Clinton agree on virtually every major progressive issue. Yet The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake insist: “There’s also a big reason she should at least consider announcing sooner rather than later. And that reason is Elizabeth Warren. ... Warren is the beating heart of the Democratic base.” 

Oh really? Beating heart? 

In the January 22-25 Public Policy Polling survey, Clinton leads over Warren among all voters by a wide margin,  60 to 10 percent (Biden is in second place, at 15 percent).

Among Democrats who describe themselves as “very liberal” (what one could accurately call the “beating heart of the Democratic base”), Clinton is the choice of 65 percent, compared to 16 percent for Warren. Clinton is rated as “favorable” by 88 percent of those who identify themselves as “very liberal” — that is, nine out of 10 — compared to 61 percent favorable for Warren.  

In January of 2012, the Pew Research Center found that 57 percent of the national sample — surprise! — found the presidential campaign was “too long.” But is this campaign fatigue a recent phenomenon? When I did a Web search on the words “presidential campaigns too long,” I received 10,500,000 hits. The first hit was a Time magazine article with the headline, “Is the presidential campaign too long? Both allies & candidates think so.” 

The article states: “The long campaign is debilitating, tedious, and expensive.” One presidential candidate is quoted as saying: “Obviously a year of perambulating, incessant exposure is exhausting. You grow weary, frustrated and bored. Any man who has listened to himself several times daily since February is not likely to inspire his countrymen in October.” 

The date of the Time article: June 27, 1960. The quoted candidate: Adlai Stevenson, who lost the nomination to John F. Kennedy. 

So the point is, nothing has really changed. Stevenon’s words still reflect the sentiment of most people. 

Is there any political danger, as some suggest, that if Clinton delays her announcement, she will coast to the Democratic nomination and run in the general election as if she has already won? Politico recently reported that some Iowans fear Clinton will take them for granted and not make an effort to win the caucuses. 

Fear not, Iowans. Not a chance.

Full disclosure: I am a long-time friend and loyal supporter. I don’t know whether, or when, Hillary Clinton will announce for president. I really don’t. But this much I do know: When and if she runs, she will work very hard. She will not act as if she is entitled to a single vote. She will act and work to earn every vote. 

Hard work, issues, facts, respect for her opponents, respect for those who disagree, respect for those on both sides of the aisle — this is Hillary Clinton. This is who she always has been. And, no doubt: this is the kind of campaign she will run ... if she runs. 

Of that I am certain. 


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.