Bill Press: Dems need a plan B

Bill Press: Dems need a plan B
© Greg Nash

Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRepublican Ohio Senate candidate slams JD Vance over previous Trump comments Budowsky: Why GOP donors flock to Manchin and Sinema Countering the ongoing Republican delusion MORE has survived the first crisis of her putative 2016 campaign. She appears to have put Emailgate behind her, either because most people accept her explanation that she chose to use her own private email, rather than the official State Department system, out of “convenience” or, more likely, because the media simply got tired of talking about it and moved on to something else. By the time the State Department finishes reviewing her 55,000 pages of emails, nobody will care anymore.

Nevertheless, therein lies an important lesson, which Democrats would be foolish to ignore: It’s a huge mistake to treat the 2016 nomination as the coronation of Queen Hillary. 

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Clinton’s got a lock on the White House, her supporters rhapsodize, because she has more experience and a more powerful political machine than anyone else. But this is exactly what we were told in 2008. 

Instead of gleefully climbing aboard the Hillary Express, Democratic leaders should be encouraging other Democrats to run in 2016 — not against Clinton, but for president.

Why? For one very simple reason: Democrats want to win. 

If they really want to hold onto the White House in 2016, Democrats would be monumentally stupid to put all their eggs in any one candidate’s basket. There is, for starters, the possibility that Clinton might decide not to run. It seems unlikely, yes, but in case she does decline to jump in, is there a plan B? 

There’s also the possibility — for the Clintons, the very real possibility — of another bump in the road, perhaps more damaging than emails. Bill and Hillary Clinton have confronted and emerged intact from a whole host of scandals, some real, some invented, from Whitewater to Benghazi. But you never know when the next shoe might drop. When it does, and if it’s serious, what’s plan B?

And then there’s the undeniable fact that contested primaries serve a real purpose. They’re good for the party, and good for the candidate. They test the candidate. They force him or her to deal with the issues; to sharpen his or her debate skills; to excel in retail politics; and to get used to the unyielding grind of a presidential campaign. Do Democrats really want Clinton to step on stage in September 2016 for the first debate against her Republican opponent not having been challenged as a candidate since 2008?

So what is plan B? 

Easy. Plan B is a deep bench of potential candidates, led by Vice President Biden, whose resume is every bit as impressive as Clinton’s. Add Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio) or Amy Klobuchar (Minn.). Add independent Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), running as a Democrat. Add California Gov. Jerry Brown and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. Any one of them would make an outstanding candidate — and an outstanding president.

In that sense, Democrats are lucky. Unlike today’s Republican Party, Democrats don’t have to suffer through 19 candidates before finding someone capable of carrying the flag in 2016. For Democrats, only three or four would do. But only as long as they get off the coronation kick, and come up with their plan B.

Press is host of “The Bill Press Show” on Free Speech TV and author of The Obama Hate Machine.