Mr. Biden: Door 1, 2, or 3? Part II

[Since Part I of this post ran earlier this week, the rest follows; but inasmuch as the spiraling Coronavirus is what we now need to address, I’ll preface it with this unrelated note: right now, I most fervently wish that NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo was President of the United States. While other state and local officials are also aggressively addressing the challenge we face, Gov. Cuomo has seemed to me to stand apart through his combination of early understanding of the scope of the crisis, effective action, and projection of competent and reassuring leadership.  Meanwhile, President Trump declared yesterday, with regard to our health workers’ need for medical supplies, that the U.S. Government is “not a shipping clerk.”] 

Assuming Mr. Biden wins the Democratic Presidential nomination, whom, given his pledge to select a woman running mate, might he choose to address a gap in his own general election credentials? I would suggest that there are three doors:

Door 1: the Progressive Door, behind which stands Ms. Warren. No. Mr. Biden appears likely to win the nomination specifically because Democrats concluded that they cannot defeat Mr. Trump with a candidate that Republicans can paint as a crazy socialist. Mr. Biden will not wish to bear that baggage. He should bet that as long as he is perceived by progressives – as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was not – as having won the nomination fairly, and he and his team proactively seek to assuage progressives’ disappointment and solicit progressives’ active participation in the Democratic campaign, progressives so vehemently detest Mr. Trump that Mr. Biden will be able to secure their strong support even if he doesn’t select an avowedly progressive running mate. U.S. VT Sen. Bernie Sanders, the clear leader of the progressive movement, has unequivocally stated that he will support Mr. Biden if Mr. Biden wins the nomination. Substantively, while Ms. Warren is unquestionably qualified, she is unabashedly contentious; she seems to me unable to speak for five minutes without using the word, “fight.” I would offer that Americans are weary of fighting.

Comment: Among prominent women candidates, Ms. Warren might also be considered the best alternative if Mr. Biden wishes to focus on securing millennial support. In my view, this is still not enough commend her. First, given younger voters’ less-than-projected turnout for Mr. Sanders, it seems doubtful that any Democrat can win in 2020 with heavy dependence on what is arguably an unreliable voting segment. Second, it appears questionable whether young voters will enthusiastically come out for Ms. Warren, whom they eschewed for Mr. Sanders. Finally, Mr. Sanders will be Mr. Biden’s most effective surrogate with young voters as he will be with progressives.

Door 2: the Ethnic Door. The most prominently mentioned female contenders behind this door seem to be U.S. CA Sen. Kamala Harris and former Georgia Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. No. Although Mr. Biden unquestionably owes his nomination to African American support, he should not – as MSNBC Host Joy Reid recently suggested – pick an African American running mate because he “owes” the community. From a purely political perspective, it is clear that African American voters will wholeheartedly support Mr. Biden in November because they are – in Ms. Reid’s own words – “… very clinical about it. They just want to win. They want Trump gone.” If Mr. Biden does need a boost with this electoral segment, he can count on the best of all surrogates: former President Barack Obama. Specifically as to Sen. Harris: she comes from a state that any Democrat will win, and, as I have previously ventured in these pages, her best presidential campaign moments seemed planned and scripted, leaving the concern as to how she would react in the fall campaign when inevitably confronted by the unexpected. As to Ms. Abrams: I would submit that her native Peach State is Fool’s Gold for Democrats in 2020 whether or not she is on the ballot, and – sheepishly conceding that I sound more than a bit like President Trump with this next observation – I would prefer that Mr. Biden pick a running mate that has won. Ms. Abrams ran a stellar 2018 campaign for Georgia Governor, but fell short. Most importantly, since Mr. Biden would be 78 when he assumed the presidency, it seems vital that he select a running mate that could effectively discharge presidential duties from “Day 1”; I would suggest that neither Ms. Harris’ brief tenure in the Senate (notwithstanding her run for the presidency) nor Ms. Abrams’ experience in the Georgia legislature respectively sufficiently ready them for the challenge.

Door 3: the Electoral College Map Door, behind which most prominently stands U.S. MN Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Yes. Mr. Biden’s rationale in naming Sen. Klobuchar would be akin to Mr. Kennedy’s reasoning in selecting Mr. Johnson in 1960. As we have heard until we are numb (and as I myself have recorded in these pages), Mr. Trump prevailed in 2016 by winning three states no one thought he could carry: Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. The President narrowly lost Minnesota to Ms. Clinton, and given his multiple visits to the North Star State during his presidency, it appears to be a state he is targeting in 2020. Mr. Biden presumably reasons that as a long-term Senator of Delaware, and given his deep roots of union support, he can claim Pennsylvania; that his union and African American support should enable him to win Michigan; which leaves Wisconsin. Ms. Klobuchar, representing Wisconsin’s neighboring Minnesota, would provide reassurance and greater appeal for the tandem in the swing areas of the Badger State, would cement Minnesota for the Democrats, and could well make Mr. Trump work to hold Iowa. Despite the disapproval the following observation would probably provoke from the Woke Brigade, Ms. Klobuchar is, in addition to her significant qualifications, likeable. In her third term in the Senate, she is conversant with the issues we face and has been lauded by Republicans for her willingness to work across the partisan aisle. Her nomination would probably secure Ms. Warren’s avid advocacy and at the same time perhaps win support for the ticket (or at least depress turnout) from suburban Republican women in GOP strongholds outside Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Milwaukee repulsed by Mr. Trump’s personal behavior. Ms. Klobuchar’s year on the campaign trail would seemingly provide the ticket immediate additional name recognition and less potential for unanticipated political skeletons than other choices.

In Part I of this note, I commented that major party presidential candidates have traditionally claimed to select as their running mates the persons most qualified to be President if they could no longer serve, while in fact they picked the persons whom they believed would best help them electorally. If I was advising former Vice President Biden, I would offer that he has the rare opportunity to do both … by picking Sen. Klobuchar.

[Addendum: A suggestion made this week by Wall Street Journal Columnist Holman Jenkins, with which I agree: As “an insurance policy on behalf of the country,” Mr. Biden should “immediately” name Ms. Klobuchar as his running mate, “so she can step in” if circumstances require.]

Mr. Biden: Door 1, 2, or 3? Part I

[While our current national struggle against the novel Coronavirus obviously dwarfs political issues, former Vice President Biden’s announcement on Sunday regarding his intent to select a woman running mate made this seem the appropriate time to post a note (slightly edited to remove references to those no longer in the running 😉 ) prepared some time ago.]

It now appears almost certain that former Vice President Joe Biden will secure the Democrats’ presidential nomination. As almost all who care are aware, Mr. Biden indicated his intent to select a woman as his running mate in his most recent debate with U.S. VT Sen. Bernie Sanders. Since that time, a number of articles have speculated on whom he might pick.

In the past, Mr. Biden specifically stated that would consider U.S. MA Sen. Elizabeth Warren. In a post earlier this year that found favor with several readers of these pages, I ventured that a Biden-Warren ticket might form a transitional administration that would let our people catch their breath and afford us the opportunity in 2024 to determine which way we wanted to proceed as a nation. That was before Ms. Warren so vehemently embraced Medicare-for-All, which clearly deflated her support and was an early indicator that the majority of Democratic voters perceive moderation rather than radical change as the path to victory in 2020.

We have traditionally hired our presidents in part with the expectation – notwithstanding the current White House occupant – that they have the capacity to think ahead. While all presidential candidates claim that they select the running mate most qualified to be President if they can no longer serve, in fact, most pick a running mate to address a vulnerability in their own general election resumes. Moderates Dwight Eisenhower and Gerald Ford respectively selected Richard Nixon and Bob Dole to encourage Republican conservatives; New England Liberal John Kennedy picked Lyndon Johnson to win Texas’ Electoral College votes; Conservative Ronald Reagan selected George H.W. Bush to hearten Republican moderates; competent but lusterless John McCain selected the electric Sarah Palin in an attempt to counteract the excitement generated by Barack Obama; and Outsiders Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush, Mr. Obama, and Donald Trump respectively selected Insiders Walter Mondale, Dick Cheney, Mr. Biden, and Mike Pence to reassure their parties’ traditionalists. Mr. Biden and a couple of his trusted aides are clearly already considering which of a number of capable female Vice Presidential nominee candidates might best enable him to secure the White House. Assuming that Mr. Biden wishes to balance his ticket, whom might he select?

I see three doors Mr. Biden might open; but in an effort to keep this post to a somewhat manageable length, what remains of this note will appear in Part II.

Sen. Sanders’ Last Test

With the unknowns of the Coronavirus far outnumbering the knowns, right now it is actually a relief to talk about politics, even given what I consider to be our nation’s current perilous political state.

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s unexpectedly strong showing on March 4, buttressed by a strong showing on March 10, have made him the prohibitive favorite to win the 2020 Democratic Presidential nomination. Although U.S. VT Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign – indeed, movement – has been incredibly impressive, has generated by far the deepest passion within the Democratic electorate, and has injected new ideas into the American political mainstream, the young voters demonstrably haven’t come out for him in the numbers that he proclaimed they would, and the African American segment of the Democratic electorate has decisively turned toward Mr. Biden. Mr. Sanders’ crusade is effectively over.

In a recent note, I quoted reporter Jules Witcover’s observation that a campaign for president “… is a grueling, debilitating, and often dehumanizing ordeal,” and suggested that any candidate that successfully perseveres for months may develop a visceral feeling that because s/he has absorbed so much adversity, s/he deserves the presidency. I would venture that for Mr. Sanders, those emotions are likely buttressed by his authentic belief that the revolutionary overhaul to the American system he has come to personify is in the best interest of the vast majority of its people. Even so, this is not his time. I would submit that how the Senator conducts himself hereafter may well determine the outcome of Mr. Biden’s campaign against President Donald Trump.

Messrs. Biden and Sanders are scheduled to conduct yet another debate – the first “one on one” debate of the Democratic presidential campaign – on March 15. After the March 10 results, there was at least one voice calling for the Democratic Party to scrap the debate given Mr. Biden’s overwhelming lead in the race; I suspect such call was prompted to some extent by concerns that Mr. Sanders – the more emphatic debater – will demonstrably get the better of Mr. Biden, will continue the divide within the Democratic Party, or will cause Mr. Biden to express support for one of Mr. Sanders’ aggressive progressive positions, which would be exploited by the Trump Campaign.

Mr. Sanders has indicated that he will debate. I think Mr. Sanders should stay in the race through the debate, but – although he has shown no indication of doing so – bow out gracefully thereafter. There are three reasons. First, Mr. Biden needs the practice of going one on one against an emphatic debater; he will have to engage in several such debates with America’s most emphatic debater in the fall. Second, Mr. Sanders and his supporters deserve the opportunity for a last hurrah. Finally – and in my view, most importantly – if handled deftly, it will enable Messrs. Biden and Sanders to begin a healing and melding process between the Democrats’ moderate and progressive wings that is absolutely vital to defeating Mr. Trump in November.

The first Democratic Presidential Debates – which, as one will recall, featured 20 candidates over two nights — were conducted in a generally amicable manner, and did little more than express the consensus that Mr. Trump is a bad guy. Judging by the tenor of Mr. Biden’s speech on March 10, I suspect that he will attempt to maintain that tone on March 15. How will Mr. Sanders act? He has consistently declared his belief that it is imperative that Mr. Trump be defeated. He has steadfastly indicated that he would wholeheartedly support whomever the Democrats nominated. He has repeatedly referred to Mr. Biden as a friend and a good man. If he truly believes what he has said, and his advisors’ assessment of his chances of winning the nomination aligns with every assessment I have heard, for the good of America, it is time for Mr. Sanders to quell his criticism of Mr. Biden, and use the upcoming debate and the days following to soothe his supporters’ intense disappointment and focus them on the need to defeat Mr. Trump.

A close friend — a dedicated Sanders supporter — and I have engaged in a good-hearted back-and-forth in recent months that has echoed that taking place on the national stage. He strongly believes that Mr. Sanders’ prescriptions are necessary to address the degrading fortunes and despair being experienced by too many Americans. I have suggested that both political reality and our national financial constraints indicate that our people’s fortunes are more likely to be improved by modifications of traditional approaches than by trying to implement the drastic overhaul advocated by Mr. Sanders. Mostly what I have argued is: the country’s future literally depends upon defeating President Trump in the fall. If I thought Mr. Sanders was the best vessel to get that done, I’d be all for him despite my misgivings about his policy approaches. I don’t. It appears that the majority of Democrats don’t. It further appears that we’ll get to see whether we are right. I expect that all Democrats, moderate or progressive, recognize that their level of unity will be a pivotal factor against Mr. Trump.

Will some of Mr. Sanders’ ideas be implemented to some extent over the next generation? It seems more likely than not. If I was speaking with Mr. Sanders this week, I would remind him of an honorable and courageous American who espoused a political philosophy literally the polar opposite of Mr. Sanders’ own: the former Republican Presidential nominee and U.S. AZ Senator, Barry Goldwater. Mr. Goldwater – in no way a racist, but who adamantly advocated for states’ rights, Constitutional strict construction, lower taxes, and ardent opposition to the Soviet Union — lost the presidency in 1964 in a historic landslide. At the same time, his failed candidacy launched the political career of Ronald Reagan, who won the presidency 16 years later espousing, in the less-strident Reagan style, Mr. Goldwater’s positions. I would tell Mr. Sanders: you may not live to see it, but if your ideas have merit, America will ultimately adopt them. Right now, it’s time to beat Trump. It’s time to get behind Joe.

We’ll soon see whether – despite all current indications to the contrary — Mr. Sanders has it in him.

Kelly Gun Range Fundraiser the Day after Brewery Shooting

I mentioned last Friday that I wouldn’t be posting for a bit, but this piece was called to my attention and is worth abandoning my indication. Attached is a link to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article reporting upon a campaign fundraiser run by Republican Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly the day after five of our people were killed in a shooting at the Molson Coors Headquarters in Milwaukee. This is in a sense a useless post, since I’m fairly confident that no Wisconsin voter that supported former WI Gov. Scott Walker or his agenda reads these pages … but I don’t know how to reconcile in my head the level of wanton insensitivity Mr. Kelly is reported to have exhibited here.

A Modest Note of Optimism for Trump’s Coronavirus Response

Although in his Wednesday press conference President Trump sought to quell Americans’ fears by expressing a more optimistic view about our ability to address the Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) than is shared by the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”), Mr. Trump did signal (notwithstanding his self-serving asides) that his government knows that the threat is serious, and that by appointing Vice President Mike Pence to be the Administration’s point man — despite reports that Mr. Pence failed to competently address an HIV outbreak in Indiana during his days as Governor — that the Administration is taking it seriously.  Although the Administration’s record for dealing with scientific reality is atrocious, this challenge doesn’t involve any conservative shibboleths.  I think we now need to wait to see whether the Administration’s efforts are effective.

On Thursday morning, MSNBC’s Morning Joe panel, while grudgingly giving Mr. Trump some credit for his response, noted that our national ability to address the virus is now somewhat hampered by the manner in which the Administration has, through budget cuts, reduced the strength of the CDC and other U.S. health agencies and our assistance to world health organizations. During his press conference, Mr. Trump brushed away such concerns, saying that the Government will be able to get needed people back and that we will spend the money we need to spend. For once, I tend to agree with the President: no matter the level of antipathy a wronged health official might feel about the Administration, the potential danger here is of sufficient magnitude that it’s hard to imagine that any relevant expert, if asked to serve, won’t immediately respond to the call. I also believe that money won’t be the problem: Mr. Trump indicated during his press conference that he was ready to take the funding appropriated by Congress, which is some four times larger than that the Administration had asked for. If Mr. Pence asks for more money in the future, I am confident that Congress will appropriate it. Right now, we are behind the curve, but as was the case after our Pacific fleet was destroyed at Pearl Harbor, we have the best talent, and despite our deep deficit, still have the financial means to stage a comeback. If we come up with a vaccine, our economic machine will reproduce it and distribute it worldwide. No American politician of any stripe will stand for drug company profiteering.

There is one other reason to feel optimistic: for once, our nation’s and the world’s health fortunes run in the same direction as Mr. Trump’s political fortunes. Members of the Morning Joe panel suggested that Mr. Trump’s focus during his press conference was to steady the financial markets.  Perhaps; if so, it would reflect a lack of understanding that the S&P 500 consists of corporations with global operations whose profits seem destined to be significantly adversely by the disease’s worldwide impact no matter what happens in America.  That said, I have trouble believing that the President doesn’t comprehend that if there is a significant panic and/or spread of Coronavirus in this country, and the Administration is perceived to have responded inadequately, he will lose the presidency resoundingly, even to U.S. VT Sen. Bernie Sanders. This is the kind of threat that trumps (if you will) even our deep cultural divide – a threat, like an invasion, that will affect Red and Blue states equally. Any health crisis will overwhelm his messaging.  He won’t — although he would undoubtedly try — be able to effectively shift the blame to Mr. Pence.  I recall – subject to correction by those with perhaps better memories — that President George W. Bush’s core support actually began to dwindle during his second term not because of his egregiously terrible decisions in Iraq and the Middle East, but because of what was perceived to be his Administration’s inadequate response to Hurricane Katrina. So in this I have complete confidence: assuming that Mr. Trump understands that doing the right thing — in this case, to pull out all stops to control to the extent possible the spread of the Coronavirus in the United States — is in his best interest, he will do the right thing.

I know very little about the virus and the attendant illness (COVID-19), and others may feel the same.  What follows are two links to recently-published descriptions of myths about the virus.

The World Health Organization

Johns Hopkins

[Comment: since I believe that this is the first time I have ever posted on three consecutive days, this is to reassure exhausted readers of these pages that such is an aberration; given the need to tend to other chores — such as our income taxes – it may be a while before another note surfaces.]

Advice for a Former President: Part II

If one intends to review this post, but has not yet read Part I (which is immediately below), I would start there 😉

If I had been in the company of former President Barack Obama over the past week, I would have suggested that he call the three former advisors who have been generally regarded as pivotal in assisting his successful run for the presidency against the “Clinton Machine” in 2008: David Axelrod, David Plouffe, and Robert Gibbs. I would have suggested that he ask each to provide him an assessment of the seven remaining Democratic presidential candidates’ respective chances, first, for winning the Democratic nomination, and then, for the candidates considered to have a realistic chance to secure the nomination, their respective chances for winning the presidency.

If Messrs. Alexrod, Plouffe, and Gibbs provided dim assessments to Mr. Obama similar to those expressed in Part I of this note regarding the nomination prospects for Messrs. Steyer and Buttiegieg and Mses. Klobuchar and Warren, and of Mr. Bloomberg’s questionable ability to amass a winning November Democratic coalition, I would then have suggested that Mr. Obama ask his advisors: How many of the Swing States can Sen. Sanders reasonably win? How likely is Mr. Sanders’ strategy to “expand the electorate” to win the Rust Belt states won by Mr. Trump in 2016 (as well as retain Minnesota and Colorado), when his calls for revolution may be as likely to repel older voters as they are to enlist younger voters? How likely is Mr. Sanders to win the presidency when he is prone to comments that alienate key constituencies, such as recently happened with Florida, a state that Mr. Trump only won by 1.2%, when he complimented the deceased Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro? How well is Mr. Sanders, a self-proclaimed socialist, going to fare in southerly North Carolina or individualistic Arizona?

If Messrs. Axelrod, Plouffe, and Gibbs could offer no greater assurance of Mr. Sanders’ chances than, “He has a committed base. Anything can happen. Look at Trump.”, I would indicate to Mr. Obama that he has a duty to act – as soon as possible — for the good of the nation. I would assert that Mr. Biden remains the Democrats’ strongest candidate in the general election. Mr. Obama should:

Call Mr. Steyer, and tell him that if Mr. Steyer truly cares about defeating Mr. Trump, he should immediately fold his candidacy. Mr. Obama would indicate his intention to speak in glowing terms about Mr. Biden that, even if short of a formal endorsement, any voter would understand.

Call Mr. Buttigieg, congratulate him on an extraordinary campaign, and tell him that Mr. Obama would use his influence with any Democrat President to secure a major post for Mr. Buttigieg in the Democratic administration to further his future political prospects … provided that Mr. Buttigieg immediately folds his candidacy. He would also advise Mr. Buttigieg of his intent to speak in glowing terms about Mr. Biden.

Call Ms. Klobuchar, congratulate her on a successful campaign, and indicate that Mr. Obama would speak highly of her as a Vice Presidential nominee to any Democrat that secures the nomination … provided that Ms. Klobuchar immediately folds her candidacy. He would also advise Ms. Klobuchar of his intent to speak in glowing terms about Mr. Biden.

Finally, call Mr. Bloomberg, and thank him profusely for his financial contributions to the Democratic effort, and ask that Mr. Bloomberg continue with those efforts; but that he, Mr. Obama, based upon his and his advisors’ knowledge of politics, doesn’t believe that Mr. Bloomberg can amass the enthusiastic coalition that Democrats need to defeat Mr. Trump. He would also advise Mr. Bloomberg of his intent to speak in glowing terms about Mr. Biden. He would ask (you don’t speak peremptorily to a billionaire whose funds you need, even if you’re a former President of the United States) that Mr. Bloomberg fold his candidacy and devote his efforts and resources to Mr. Biden.

Such an overt effort on Mr. Obama’s part would smack of an establishment partisan power play against Mr. Sanders reminiscent of 2016. It would undoubtedly wildly antagonize the Progressive wing of the party. It’s an extraordinary step, to be taken only if there is consensus among the seasoned political operatives who managed Mr. Obama’s ascendency to the presidency that Mr. Sanders has little chance to defeat Mr. Trump in Swing States. Offensive? Almost certainly. Wildly counterproductive? Perhaps. But a sharp cut to the Democratic viscera with months to cauterize and dress the wound – and to give Mr. Sanders and disappointed progressives the time to recall that Mr. Trump is the adversary, and what happened in 2016 when some of them stayed home in a huff — seems preferable to slow political exsanguination with Mr. Sanders. Democrats shouldn’t rely on being saved by a second major electoral upset in the space of four years unless they have to.

Clearly, many of us are concerned about the Democrats’ November prospects if Mr. Sanders is the presidential nominee. Attached is a link to a New York Times article by Thomas Friedman, recently sent me by a close friend, suggesting that the Democrats form a “Team of Rivals” headed by either Mr. Sanders or Mr. Bloomberg and including many of the Democrats’ presidential candidates. Although I am not as confident as Mr. Friedman that his approach would result in a Democratic landslide, his idea is superior to mine since, if implemented, it would engender amity and a cohesive electoral strategy between the two wings of the Democratic Party rather than fractious discord. That said, I question its efficacy. Assuming that the moderate Democrats privately agree that Mr. Sanders will have difficulty defeating Mr. Trump, their dueling ambitions are strangling America.  Mr. Sanders, an authentic True Believer with the nomination seemingly within his reach, presumably considers this his last chance to bring about a vision of America that almost certainly doesn’t encompass alliances with billionaires like Mr. Bloomberg. That said, either Mr. Friedman’s approach or mine would seem to require a willingness by Mr. Obama to actively intervene in the Democrats’ nominating contest – which,  if it was to occur, should already be well underway; and of which we’ve seen no indication.

Advice for a Former President: Part I

[Note: this was written prior to the Democratic Presidential Candidate Debate scheduled for February 25, 2020; while it is conceivable that something uttered in that debate changes the dynamic of the Democratic Presidential contest, such seems unlikely.]

Although many commentators – including me – have focused on the narrowness of President Trump’s 2016 victory over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the “Blue Wall” states that had been expected to provide Sec. Clinton her victory, the Electoral College (“EC”) victor’s margin in all of the 10 most closely-contested states was relatively narrow. Mr. Trump won: Michigan (16 EC; .3%); Wisconsin (10 EC; 1%); Pennsylvania (20 EC; 1.2%); Florida (29 EC; 1.2%); North Carolina (15 EC; 3.8%); and Arizona (11 EC; 3.9%) – 101 EC votes, roughly a third of his 304 total. Ms. Clinton won: New Hampshire (4 EC; .4%); Minnesota (10 EC; 1.5%); Nevada (6 EC; 2.4%); and Maine (4 EC; 2.7%) – 24 of her runner-up 227 EC total. For assessing any 2020 presidential hopeful’s prospects, I would submit that one could add to this group Colorado (9 EC), Iowa (6 EC), and Virginia (13 EC). Ms. Clinton won both Colorado and Virginia by about 5 points, but each 2016 result could have been skewed in her favor by factors that won’t be relevant in 2020 – Libertarian Gary Johnson took 5% of the 2016 Colorado vote, the majority of which arguably would have gone to Mr. Trump, and Ms. Clinton’s running mate, U.S. VA Sen. Tim Kaine, presumably boosted the ticket’s margin in the Old Dominion. On the other hand, although Mr. Trump won Iowa by 9 points, polls indicate that he currently has a markedly high disapproval rating in the Hawkeye State, presumably making it a 2020 Democratic target. It appears reasonable to suggest that 2020 Presidential election will be decided by the outcomes in these 13 states – all, arguably “Swing States.”

The Democratic Candidate Debate in Nevada on February 19 was disheartening. It appeared an ego-driven, doctrinaire spite fight which seemingly greatly enhanced the prospects for U.S. VT Sen. Bernie Sanders, perhaps devastated the chances of former New York, NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and didn’t meaningfully help any other candidate. In the days prior to the South Carolina primary, of the seven remaining candidates, I would suggest:

Businessman Tom Steyer has spent millions making himself known, and hasn’t made a meaningful dent in the polls. His has become an ego-driven crusade with no chance of securing the nomination. Ironically, for a candidate who has been proclaiming the loudest for the longest of the dangers presented by Mr. Trump, he appears intent on taking a significant percentage of the black vote in South Carolina from former Vice President Joe Biden, thus ensuring any Biden victory will be narrow and in effect providing another boost to Mr. Sanders. Mr. Steyer is confusing the race.

Former South Bend, IN Mayor Pete Buttigieg has run a masterful race, but has failed to garner any meaningful minority support. No Democrat can win the White House without enthusiastic minority support. The African American community’s depressed turnout for Ms. Clinton in 2016 was a factor in her defeat, and it’s hard to envision that community rallying any more enthusiastically for Mr. Buttigieg.  It’s difficult to see him eking out the nomination against the respective strengths of Messrs. Sanders, Bloomberg, and former Vice President Joe Biden. At this point, Mr. Buttigieg is confusing the race.

U.S. MN Sen. Amy Klobuchar has run a strong race. In retrospect, a win in Iowa (instead of a fifth-place finish) plus her strong results in New Hampshire might have propelled her candidacy; but she, also, has failed to garner any meaningful black support. Although I consider her the most qualified Democratic candidate for the presidency aside from Mr. Biden, there appears no path to the nomination for her. At this point, Ms. Klobuchar is confusing the race.

U.S. MA Sen. Elizabeth Warren has also run a strong technical campaign. That said, and although national pundits that venture what I am about to state are pilloried by the Woke Brigade, Ms. Warren, for all her intelligence and background, seems divisive, hectoring, and self-righteous to many of our people. Her reported recent criticism of Mr. Bloomberg’s height is Trumpian. Her candidacy arguably died when she finished fourth in New Hampshire, neighboring her Massachusetts. Presumably, she’s acting as an ideological “Team Player,” recognizing that as long as she stays in the race, she gets media coverage to attack Mr. Bloomberg, which greatly benefits Mr. Sanders (and may unintentionally also assist the candidacy of Mr. Biden).

While one can never count out the value of hundreds of millions of dollars of media advertising, I would offer that Mr. Bloomberg’s obvious failure to prepare appropriately for the Nevada debate, taken together with Ms. Warren’s withering attacks on him, cast severe doubt upon his chances of winning the presidency if not the nomination. While blacks, practical and savvy voters, could look past Mr. Bloomberg’s “stop and frisk” difficulties in order to rid the nation of Mr. Trump, I seriously question whether either the ideological purists supporting Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren – who will consider Mr. Bloomberg, if he wins, to have bought the nomination — or “Me Too” Movement members – hearing what can reasonably be expected to be a steady stream of reports of Mr. Bloomberg’s inappropriately suggestive behavior while running his business — will vote for the former Mayor in sufficient numbers in November to unseat Mr. Trump.

If Mr. Sanders does well in Saturday’s South Carolina primary, he appears well on his way to securing the Democrats’ presidential nomination. The advice I would render if I could to a former President of the United States in Part II.