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Now more than ever, Democrats need Hillary Clinton

Earlier this year, I co-authored a piece for The Wall Street Journal that argued that a perfect storm in the Democratic Party is making a once unfathomable scenario — a comeback for Hillary Clinton in 2024 — highly plausible.

Our reasoning was that President Biden’s low approval rating, doubt about his capacity to run again, Vice President Harris’s unpopularity, and the absence of another strong Democrat to lead the ticket have created a leadership vacuum within the party that only Clinton — as an experienced and politically savvy “change candidate” — can fill.

In light of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade — upending decades of precedent and revoking a constitutional right that American women have enjoyed for half a century — the case for Clinton’s candidacy is even clearer.

Regardless of one’s own political affiliation or opinion of Clinton, the country knows her as an experienced politician and a champion of women’s rights. From her declaration at the United Nations in 1995 that “women’s rights are human rights” to being the first woman nominated as a major party’s candidate for president in 2016, she offers the exact type of leadership that the Democratic Party desperately needs. 

Whether or not party leaders will admit it, Democrats know that they need to move on from Biden if they want to stay in the White House in 2024 and — even more importantly — have a fighting chance at building a sufficient enough majority in Congress to advance any element of their agenda going forward, including, and especially, codifying abortion rights.

Put another way, the stakes are simply too high for Democrats to remain on this slowly sinking ship. 

Democrats are headed for a blowout loss in November, even worse than in 1994 and 2010 — the two worst midterm election years for the party in recent history — when they lost 53 and 63 seats, respectively, per Gallup’s analysis of four key national mood indicators.

Indeed, Biden’s approval rating is lower than both Obama’s and Clinton’s at the same points in their presidencies, and Americans in 2022 are less satisfied with the direction of the country, more negative about the economy and more disapproving of Congress.

Polls generally show Republicans with a lead of at least 2 or 3 points in the 2022 generic vote for Congress. This advantage would likely give the GOP a solid majority in the House — considering the favorable Republican rulings in redistricting litigation in key states as well as the likelihood that Republican turnout will be even higher than most pollsters are currently accounting for.

While Biden was the right person to defeat former President Trump in 2020, he is clearly not the right person to lead the Democratic Party going forward — as only 36 percent of Democrats believe that Biden gives them the best chance to win the presidency in 2024, per recent polling.

To be sure, Democrats’ confidence in Biden will only decline further after the party experiences a shellacking in the midterm elections. These voters will be looking for a change candidate who is experienced, effective, savvy and committed to the issues they care most about — namely, women’s rights and civil rights. 

At that point, Clinton will have a unique opportunity to position herself as an experienced candidate capable of leading Democrats on a more successful path who will also fight — as she has done her entire career — for women’s rights. 

As John Ellis wrote this week, “The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade creates the opening for Hillary Clinton to get out of stealth mode and start down the path toward declaring her candidacy for the 2024 Democratic presidential nomination.”

Based on her latest public statements, it’s clear that Clinton not only recognizes her position as a potential front-runner but also is setting up a process to gauge whether or not she should pursue the presidency once more.

Repositioning herself in the national spotlight, Clinton spoke this week at the Aspen Ideas Festival and bashed the overturning of Roe v. Wade as “the most arrogant misreading of history in law that you could ever find” and a decision that is “rolling the clock back on our civil rights, our human rights.”

Moreover, in a separate interview earlier in the week, Clinton refused to rule out a 2024 run.  

Aside from Clinton, the Democratic Party lacks any other rising stars who could take the torch from Biden — if he chooses not to run — and win in a general election. The most natural successor would be Harris. However, Harris is even more unpopular than Biden and would almost guarantee a Republican victory in 2024.

Further, Harris’s response to Roe being overturned missed the mark, as she was widely criticized for trying to make the case that abortion access will greatly impact America’s sons.

Ultimately, Clinton is the only prominent Democrat with the experience, the campaign infrastructure, the political know-how and the proven track record who can win a general election.  

As Fox News Channel’s Juan Williams wrote earlier this week, “Democrats need a strong voice ready to fight to restore women’s rights, now that the Supreme Court has struck down Roe v. Wade. There’s only one Hillary Clinton.”

If Democrats want a chance at winning the presidency in 2024, Clinton is — now more than ever — their best chance.

Douglas E. Schoen is a political consultant who served as an adviser to former President Clinton and to the 2020 presidential campaign of Michael Bloomberg. He is the author of “The End of Democracy? Russia and China on the Rise and America in Retreat.” 

Tags 2024 election Democrats Hillary Clinton Joe Biden Kamala Harris Politics of the United States Roe v Wade

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