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Hillary Clinton is no shoo-in for president despite Obama backing

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Hillary Clinton leaves the White House after lunching with President Obama on July 29.
Hillary Clinton leaves the White House
after lunching with President Obama on July 29.

President Obama’s recent cozy lunch with Hillary Clinton was widely interpreted as giving his early blessing to her to succeed him in 2016.

Just don’t tell supporters of Vice President Joe Biden, who strongly believe he should have the backing of Obama given his unswerving loyalty and his ability to deliver.

Biden was announced as the speaker at Senator Tom Harkin’s annual steak fry in Des Moines in September, a move always seen as a barometer for who Harkin is backing in the vital Iowa caucuses.

The Irish American VP looks more and more like a candidate in 2016, and getting Harkin’s support at this early stage is a real coup for him.

Iowa is the early epicenter.  As columnist Maureen Dowd noted in The New York Times, the Madam President hysteria sweeping Democrats at the moment has spread to Iowa, where former Clinton opponent Senator Claire McCaskill recently called for a massive Hillary 2016 effort.

Obama seems to have jumped on board but, as Dowd noted, in doing so he was “bypassing Joe Biden,” who must be feeling the lack of love given his service.

As Dowd wrote, the Hillary people were delighted with the lunch. “The Clintons can present those images as Obama passing the torch and bypassing Joe Biden, just as Bill once took a simple handshake from JFK during a Boys Nation visit to the White House and turned it into an Arthurian moment,” she wrote.

But what Obama wants and what we might get are two very different things nowadays.

Most pundits describe a disappointing Obama presidency that was built on great hope and expectation -- and a Nobel Prize before he hardly had his seat warmed -- which instead has degenerated into endless fights with Republicans and a stalled second term agenda.

There is little doubt that Hillary would have been effective given her experience and rooted knowledge of Washington.  But does that mean she would be the best choice for 2016?

There are good reasons why she did not win in 2008, Clinton fatigue among them. Who is to say that will not resurface with a vengeance? Perhaps a bright new face, Governor Martin O’Malley from Maryland for example, will surface at the key moment.

Anointing Hillary as the next Democratic nominee is a dangerous business, which I think she would be the first person to acknowledge given her own political failures in the past.

Her major problem may be that many of those same key advisors who backed her into a dead end in 2008 are still clinging to the Clinton ship with the stickability of barnacles.

Obama jumping on board seems a tad premature to say the least. We’re not even in the first inning in campaign 2016. If the republicans see sense and pick Governor Chris Christie as their candidate they could well win the whole argument.

There is a lot of baseball to be played.

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