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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

January 15: Bashing Obama Not Good Democratic Idea for 2016

With the MSM (and for that matter, political junkies everywhere) loving electoral horse races as they do, there’s enormous artificial pressure for creating a competitive 2016 Democratic presidential contest. That possibility is largely up to Hillary Clinton, who could create one instantly by deciding not to run. Otherwise, there will be talk about Elizabeth Warren and Martin O’Malley and maybe a few others taking the plunge, until each takes his or her name out of contention.
But for now, what we’ve got is former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a one-time netroots darling who is making all the noises you’d associate with a serious potential candidate, including trips to Iowa. And he doesn’t seem intimidated by HRC.
In an interview with MSNBC’s Benjy Sarlin, though, Schweitzer has unveiled a peculiar strategy: strong opposition to Barack Obama, almost across the board. Here’s part of what I had to say about that major mistake at WaMo today:

Unless this was some sort of screwed-up revival of Teddy Kennedy’s famously disastrous Roger Mudd interview in 1980, Schweitzer’s sure taking an unorthodox route to a Democratic presidential candidacy. Yes, his complaints about Obama’s record are shared by quite a few progressive folk. But generally trashing Obama–or for that matter, trashing HRC–is not the way to build a base for a presidential campaign. According to the latest Gallup numbers, Obama’s job approval rating among self-identified liberal Democrats stands at 84%. That is rather high. Among African-Americans, who play a huge role in many Democratic presidential primaries, it’s at 86% (it’s only 58% among Hispanics, but that includes a decent number of Republicans).
As I’ve observed on more than one occasion, left-bent Democratic presidential nominating candidacies have failed again and again because of poor support from minority voters. There’s virtually nothing about Brian Schweitzer that gives him a natural connection to these voters (unless you count his reported proficiency in Arabic as appealing to Muslims). Making common cause with Republicans in Obama-bashing isn’t going to help.

I also noted that some of Schweitzer’s former fans in the netroots–most notably Markos Moulitsas–are annoyed that he took a pass on running for a critical Senate seat in Montana before seeing the next president of the United States in the mirror. All in all, if he does want to occupy the Oval Office, he’s not off to a great start.
BTW: lest you think this is all just premature crazy-talk given the calendar, keep in mind that we’re just two years away from the likely date of the 2016 Iowa Caucuses. Past candidates have in some cases taken up virtual residence there by this juncture.

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