Accuracy in Media

Protests to the contrary notwithstanding, Hillary Clinton is still interested in being a presidential candidate in 2020.

Further evidence of this emerged this week with a Washington Post piece headlined, “Hillary 2020? Trump better hope not.”

It then goes on to outline why Clinton “would be well-positioned to win in a rematch.”

In response to an Oct. 16 tweet in which Trump said he’d been asked whether “Crooked Hillary Clinton is going to run in 2020 …” and said, “I hope so!” Michael Brenes, a historian and senior archivist at Yale University, said not so fast.

“Putting aside the reckless braggadocio – and blatant sexism – inherent in such a statement, the entire scenario seems absurd,” Brenes wrote. He did not explain what was blatantly sexist about Trump predicting he would win a rematch.

Few expect Clinton to run, he said, and most doubt she could win the Democratic nomination if she did. Clinton herself has said she has no plans to run.

“Trump should be careful what he wishes for,” Brenes wrote. “Clinton might not be a potential candidate now, but the political winds can change quickly. Recent American history is rife with presidential contenders who lost the primary or general election and then went on to become a candidate in subsequent elections.”

Yes, many losing candidates do try their luck later in other elections. But at the presidential level, losing becomes its own impediment. People don’t want to back a candidate who has run and lost before, as Mitt Romney found out abruptly from the colder-than-ice reception he received when he floated the idea of jumping into the 2016 race.

Clinton lost twice when heavily favored against political novices when her supposed advantage – in-depth knowledge of policy in a variety of areas – ended up helping little. There is evidence her campaign and the Democratic National Committee colluded to shut out Bernie Sanders.

Not only that, she lost in both cases because she ran badly managed campaigns that misallocated resources, could not settle a consistent message and were not able to portray Clinton in the best light. A scandal that was not present even on Election Day emerged that likely would weaken whatever enthusiasm there might be for her campaign.

Brenes said all this can be overcome because of Trump’s “abysmally low approval ratings and inability to deliver on signature campaign promises (building a border wall, ending NAFTA and repealing the Affordable Care Act, to name a few), and Clinton could once more emerge as a serious challenger.”

Meanwhile, samples of what the wall might look like are up now near San Diego along the Mexican border. NAFTA is being renegotiated, and Trump, with his recent executive orders, has, for all intents and purposes, repealed Obamacare anyway.

Brenes’ point is that Clinton still “retains significant support within her party, and Democrats currently have no clear front-runner to replace her.” No one questions the Clintons could raise significant money for such a run, and Brenes claims she would have a “vibrant, large, motivated base of supporters angry at Trump, Russian interference in the election and former FBI director James Comey – in their minds, the collective robbers of Clinton’s presidency.”

Trump could find himself in trouble in 2020 if an unpopular war breaks out or the economy falters, and voters “come to believe they made a mistake and look to Clinton to rectify the wrong,” Brenes said.

But “like Nixon and Reagan, Clinton can win the presidency in 2020 thanks to a combination of demographic and electoral shifts among voters and uncertainty about their futures.”

This is an example of a go-against-the-grain story designed to provoke thought. The writer is given some leeway to get the discussion flowing. But when you have someone declaring she would have a “vibrant, large, motivated base of supporters” doubly angry at Trump, you’re substituting wishful thinking for clear and hope for reality.

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