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What About Schumer for 2020?

democratic senator chuck schumer of new york
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. (Getty Images) 

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Wednesday, 10 July 2019 04:54 PM Current | Bio | Archive

One reason so many Democrats are running for president is that none of them is a strong enough candidate to scare off the other ones.

"The Democratic field to me, so far, is more about quantity than quality," the Cook Political Report's Dave Wasserman told the New Yorker recently.

The first televised Democratic debate, with less-than-commanding performances by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Vice President Joseph Biden, triggered some Democratic fantasizing about candidates other than two dozen or so "major" candidates who are already in. Michelle Obama’s name gets mentioned a lot.

Billionaire anti-climate-change activist Tom Steyer, sensing an opening, has joined the race. Some Democrats spend time dreaming about the existing candidates but with magically altered attributes: Biden, but ten years younger. Pete Buttigieg, but 10 years older, and experience as a governor rather than a mayor.

The candidate I’d like to see enter the race, though, is Senator Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., of

Not that I think he’d be a particularly distinguished president; he’s too much of a big government guy for me, and he seems to me to be more of a legislative personality than an executive one.

But purely as a politician, Schumer outclasses any of the existing Democratic candidates.

If the field limps along in its current state, Schumer may want to take a serious look at getting in. He could win the nomination.

Schumer’s fundraising prowess would give him instant credibility.

Even in the era of online small-dollar donors, the ability to raise a lot of money is still important in politics. Schumer is already strong with three key (and sometimes overlapping) elements of the Democratic donor base — Jews, the LBGTQ community, and Wall Street.

He’d be even stronger with a pitch to centrist Democrats that says, hey, I’m the only thing besides Donald Trump standing between you and a Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., or Sen. Sanders administration.

There are other candidates trying to fill that role, but they are all flawed.

Biden is too old — at 76, almost precisely two presidential election cycles older than Schumer, who is 68. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.,  and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., don’t quite have the gravitas.

The case for Schumer, though, isn’t just moneyage, or identity politics.

It has do to with the ideological landscape.

There’s a difference between a "woke," socialist Democratic Party cultivating campus activists and faculty radicals, and a Democratic party that can still speak to middle-class, tuition-paying, working parents.

Biden can connect with those parents.

But if Biden is too far past his prime to succeed, Schumer can also fill that role with a modicum of credibility.

There aren’t many others who can.

How would Schumer run?

For the activist base, he could point to his years of advocacy for stronger gun control laws, dating back to his days as a member of the House of Representatives. It made him one of the National Rifle Association’s worst enemies.

He can run online ads of himself marching in New York’s pride parade with his daughter Alison. For independent voters, he can run by criticizing Trump as being too soft on China — a policy position that Schumer has been staking out anyway, and that has a certain kind of Schumer-esque genius. Schumer has more latitude that Trump to take those sorts of positions because the stock market doesn’t slump each time he clashes with China about trade.

He can use what he has in common with President Trump — long, intimate experience with New York City’s tabloid and television press, an outer-borough sensibility — to connect with voters.

Maybe Biden isn’t as over-the-hill as he seems, though it wasn’t exactly reassuring to learn that he had to refile his 2017 and 2018 tax returns in part because he, as his campaign put it, "inadvertently failed to include the W-2 income and associated withholdings from the final three weeks of the vice presidency."

And maybe Schumer has concluded that Trump is a lock for a second term anyway, and that chief Democratic Senate negotiator against a Republican president is a better position to be in than losing presidential candidate.
But if Schumer really thinks that Trump is a threat to the republic, he owes it to the Democrats and the country to get off the sidelines and into the Democratic field.
If he waits another cycle to make a run at the White House, he risks ending up like Biden — past his expiration date.
Ira Stoll is author of "J.F.K. Conservative," and "Samuel Adams: A Life." Read more reports from Ira Stoll — Click Here Now.

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Ira-Stoll
Purely as a politician, Schumer outclasses any of the existing Democratic candidates. If the field limps along in its current state, Schumer may want to take a serious look at getting in. He could win the nomination.
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Wednesday, 10 July 2019 04:54 PM
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