Does Hillary want Al Gore in the race? That's the thought that sprang to mind when her husband gratuitously told Larry King "you have got the prospect that Vice President Gore might run." Hillary cadre James Carville followed up by declaring that Gore would run. ... Normally you don't advertise to potential donors and operatives that they might want to save their money and time for some other candidate who's not yet in the race, right? But when you think about it, a Gore entry might be good for Hillary--it would dilute the field opposing her, allowing her to maybe squeak by with a plurality victory. ...
In previous presidential primary races, such a strategy wouldn't be such a good bet, of course. With a crowded field, you might win with 30% in Iowa--but the lagging contenders would drop out as the primary season continued, and you'd eventually have to face only one or two major opponents. A candidate with high negatives and a relatively low "ceiling" on her support--like Hillary--would eventually discover that 30% wasn't enough. But this year might be different: The primaries are so front-loaded that there may be no long slog to weed out the crowded field. A mega-primary on February 5, only a few weeks after the Iowa caucuses, could pick half the delegates to the Democratic convention. If Hillary were to win 30% in Iowa, and that translated into a 30% plurality showing on February 5, she could have a commanding lead very quickly, no? ...
P.S.: [Isn't it panicking for Hillary to start gaming a plurality-victory scenario this far out?--ed. Hillary seems prone to panic. How else to explain the ill-advised attack on Obama via David Geffen? See also "Emailer X," who argues she was panicked into getting into the race too early.]
P.P.S.: The flaw in the 'plurality' strategy, of course, is the Feiler Faster Thesis, which holds that even in a rushed, front-loaded primary system modern wired voters have plenty of time in the two final weeks of January to process the Iowa results and coalesce behind an anti-Hillary alternative who could then get more than a mere plurality. ...
P.P.P.S.: Doesn't the front-loaded strategy increase the chances of, yes, a brokered convention? I guess that will never happen. Until it happens. ...
P.P.P.P.S.: If the Clintons want Gore in the race, of course, that might be enough to guarantee that Gore doesn't enter the race--if, as is widely believed, Gore doesn't like the Clintons. Clinton's statement could be a reverse-briar-patch attempt to keep Gore out. ...
Update: Alert reader "Y," who seems to be a bit of an insider, has a simpler explanation--
The main reason the Clintons promote the prospect of a Gore candidacy is that Gore speculation freezes some anti-Hillary donors and activists who would otherwise go to Obama or Edwards ... [snip] ... From Hillary's perspective, the longer those people stay on the sidelines the better. [E.A.]
That assumes the donors and activists who aren't with her already are probably going to go with one of her opponents, which seems a plausible assumption. ...
Of course, the two explanations are not incompatible: Gore freezes the uncommitted donors today, splits the anti-Hillary vote tomorrow. ... 1:22 P.M. link
I'm kind of hating Jacob Weisberg today. ... 12:56 P.M.
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