Hillary Clinton is easily the most qualified announced or prospective candidate to be president of the United States.
She’s already seen how to run (or not to run) a White House. For eight years serving as first lady she famously did not bake any cookies. She was an active participant in Bill Clinton’s administration. Then she got high marks as a serious legislator in her time representing New York in the U.S. Senate, followed by another impressive stint as President Obama’s secretary of state.
That last job is especially important, as presidential candidates typically struggle to show that they’re up to managing foreign policy. Witness Gov. Scott Walker’s frenetic attempt to gain any kind of foreign policy cred by going abroad to not answer questions about foreign policy or evolution.
A lot of Democratic activists are conflicted about Clinton. On the one hand they love the fact that she would be the first woman president, but on the other hand they wish that would be Elizabeth Warren instead.
Warren, a U.S. senator from Massachusetts, continues to say she won’t run, but there are a few brave men who seem like they might give it a shot. Among them is former Baltimore Mayor and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. If you’ve never heard of him, don’t feel too bad. Pretty much nobody has. But he earned respect as both mayor and governor as a serious policy wonk with strong liberal credentials. His candidacy would add to the debate. Coronations are always a bad thing. And if Clinton stumbles, well, the Democrats would be better off seeing that before she’s the nominee than when she’s up against Jeb Bush in the general election. (The Republicans will nominate Bush. Want to bet? Didn’t think so.)
Aside from her ability to handle the job, the thing that intrigues me most about Clinton is her popularity among blue-collar voters. She beat Obama in the Ohio and Pennsylvania primaries on the strength of those votes, and it’s a demographic that the Democrats otherwise underperform with. The Democratic presidential ticket might be able to squeak by on the wave of women, Hispanic, black and younger voters, but the party gets pummeled in the off-year elections when those folks just don’t show up at the polls.
What the party really needs is to win back blue-collar voters — especially white men who have less than a college education — so that they can reverse or at least soften the off-year disasters. You wouldn’t think Hillary Clinton — a woman who grew up in affluence, attended all the right schools and who is of Washington more than anyone — would be that candidate. But she is and that could be her greatest strength.