Dem Strategist: Hillary's 'Centrist Appeal' Must Mesh With Left

Tuesday, 22 Jul 2014 05:05 PM

By Sean Piccoli

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Hillary Clinton is "acutely aware," after her disappointment in 2008, that a second presidential run in 2016 would be no cakewalk — not in primaries where a populist base would again question her centrist leanings, Democratic strategist David Goodfriend told Newsmax TV on Tuesday.

"I don't think she does consider [the nomination] a shoo-in," Goodfriend, who served as a deputy staff secretary to President Bill Clinton, told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner. "She is very conscious of how this has got to be earned. it can't be a coronation."

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Goodfriend said that if Clinton opts to run, she will face "a very loud and vocal base" concerned this time around with issues of income inequality that "any nominee is going to have to address."

What won't work, he said, is "a kind of DLC redux, a kind of centrism circa 1992," referring to the Democratic Leadership Council, a Washington, D.C. group that backed candidate and President Bill Clinton, and prided itself on an establishment-friendly "Third Way" approach to policy and politics.

The DLC, which folded in 2011, counted Hillary Clinton as a member in 2008, when both supported Republican President George W. Bush's war in Iraq.

Absent some catastrophic event in the world, jobs, wages and widely shared economic growth will matter more to Democratic voters than foreign policy, said Goodfriend. But the left's distrust of Wall Street and big business — where Clinton enjoys political and financial support — poses a challenge to somebody with what Goodfriend characterized as Clinton's "centrist appeal."

She will have "to answer to that [populist] sentiment in the Democratic Party," he said, without being pulled farther left than a national electorate will tolerate.

Goodfriend said President Bill Clinton was "adroit" at making that pivot from the primary to the general election.

Hillary Clinton also cannot assume that the primary won't be crowded, said Goodfriend, noting, "[T]here's no absence of variety among Democrats who would like to be president."

He said the potential field includes New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

Hillary Clinton does have advantages over possible rivals, according to Goodfriend. He said the Clintons, as a team, have a deep network of donors and political operatives at the ready — unlike, say, the anti-Wall Street crusader and progressive favorite Warren.

"Running a presidential campaign in this era is a multi-billion-dollar, extremely complex endeavor," said Goodfriend. "I say 'multi-billion' because when you put it all together — all the candidates, all the outside spending, all the infrastructure — it really does run into the billions of dollars. It's not something you can do on a whim. If you're looking at a general election in 2016 the infrastructure has to be put in place now."

Goodfriend also said that Clinton in 2016, were she to seek and win the Democratic nomination, is less likely to rile the Republican base like the Clinton of the 1990s.

Failed architect of national healthcare during her husband's administration, author of the "vast right-wing conspiracy" charge against his critics — Goodfriend said the that GOP nemesis went on to become a respected senator and a secretary of State who rates favorably with Democrats, Independents and Republicans.

"So I would caution against assuming she's going to be a lighting rod in the culture wars," said Goodfriend. " We live in different times."

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