Trying to create a presidential persona and a rationale for running, Hillary Clinton relaunched her campaign at a memorial to FDR. She used the glorious setting of Four Freedoms Park to summon Roosevelt’s legacy and frame her theme as “Four Fights.”
She also invoked her husband and President Obama, as if piggy-backing on presidents would define her. Perhaps it will work, but her predicament recalls a Dem president she didn’t mention: Lyndon Baines Johnson. The similarities must scare her.
LBJ looked certain to be re-elected in 1968, until a Minnesota senator with a penchant for poetry named Eugene McCarthy shocked the world by getting 42 percent in the New Hampshire primary, against Johnson’s 49 percent. Less than three weeks later, the president famously declared that “I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president.”
The news that Sanders is surging in polls in Iowa and New Hampshire must be sending shivers through Clinton’s camp. Even though Hillary still leads in the 2016 first states, the gap has narrowed so much that her surrogates are lowering expectations, saying Sanders might win some showdowns.
If there is a McCarthy-like figure on the scene today, it is Bernie Sanders, the scrappy underdog threatening to upset Hillary’s coronation.
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