Insiders: Obama, Warren will outshine Clinton in Philly – Politico
Democrats have low expectations for Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech this week: She rates behind President Barack Obama and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren when it comes to the most anticipated Democratic convention speeches.
A survey of The POLITICO Caucus — a panel of activists, strategists and operatives in 11 key battleground states — finds that, despite Clinton’s imminent nomination for president, Democratic insiders think Obama and Warren will make the more effective case for their party in speeches at the Wells Fargo Center this week.
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Asked who would deliver the most effective address, nearly half of Democratic insiders, 49 percent, said Obama. Another 26 percent picked Warren.
Just 10 percent chose Clinton — the same percentage that said her husband would make the most effective case for the party.
“This is Obama’s party,” said a Florida Democrat, who, like all insiders, completed the survey anonymously. “He’ll light the place up and pass the torch of a united party, then we’ll all pray she doesn’t screw it up between now and November.”
“He will be in legacy-burnishing mode and will be spectacular,” a New Hampshire Democrat said, referring to the president. “Wish he could serve another term.”
Added a Nevada Democrat: “His tenure is almost come to an end, and he has been one of the best presidents in history. There will be tears, joy and a sense of accomplishment. It will be another historic moment.”
A number of Democratic insiders said Obama could serve as a powerful validator for Hillary Clinton — in the same way Bill Clinton made a compelling argument for Obama’s reelection at the convention in Charlotte four years ago.
“Bill did it for Barack,” an Iowa Democrat said. “Now it’s Barack’s turn to return the favor.”
Warren, the first-term Massachusetts senator, was praised for her ability to coalesce an argument that speaks to middle-class anxiety — better than Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, according to many insiders.
(This survey was conducted earlier this month, before Clinton chose Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate; Warren was also rumored to be a candidate.)
“Warren, like Sanders, has a way of explaining the bread and butter issues of the today,” a North Carolina Democrat said. “Warren is great at making the case as to why Trump should not be the next president.”
Added a Pennsylvania Democrat: “Bernie’s speech will be like going to a Springsteen concert. Everyone knows all the words and will be singing along with him. But Elizabeth Warren will package those messages in a new fashion and make sure Hillary realizes she made a mistake in her VP choice and having people say that if only it would have been her instead of Bernie.”
Most of the Democrats who expected Hillary Clinton would be the best speaker said they chose her because the stakes are enormous for her speech.
“She has to be” the most effective, a North Carolina Democrat said. “She is the standard bearer. The others will be great, but Hillary has to be better.”
That was echoed by a Colorado Democrat: “She has to be; it is her show.”
As for Clinton’s husband, a handful of insiders said the former president can make an emotional case for his wife unlike any of the other speakers.
“As always, Bill Clinton will steal the show — but most importantly will make the most important case of all — for his wife,” a Wisconsin Democrat said. “It’s up to him to get it done for her at the convention.”
Insiders praise Kaine pick
According to Caucus insiders, Hillary Clinton made a smart choice in picking Kaine to join her ticket on Friday, selecting a running mate with a solid record who will bring assets to the campaign and is capable of serving as commander-in-chief.
In a special survey conducted in the hours after the Clinton campaign made the Kaine pick official, the vast majority of Democratic insiders, 86 percent, said Clinton made a smart pick. Just 14 percent said she should have chosen someone else.
A majority of GOP insiders agreed: 62 percent said Kaine was a smart choice, while 38 percent thought she should have tapped someone else.
Most Democrats see Kaine as a candidate with considerable and diverse experience who can appeal to both Democrats and independents, or Republicans defecting from the Donald Trump-Mike Pence ticket. And few, just 10 percent, thought Kaine would have trouble motivating more liberal voters behind Clinton’s candidacy.
“He is the most qualified to take over in the event something happens to the president,” said one Florida Democrat, who, like all respondents, completed the survey anonymously. “Additionally, while left of center, he is not so radical to frighten moderates and works well across the party lines as does Hillary.”
“Tim Kaine is ready to be president tomorrow; that is what really matters,” a New Hampshire Democrat added. “After that it is who she is comfortable with and who will be great partner in running the country. Joe Biden is a perfect model, and Tim Kaine is Hillary’s Joe Biden.”
A number of Democratic insiders also touted their own personal experiences with Kaine. One New Hampshire Democrat called Kaine “truly one of the nicest people on earth.”
“I would have loved to see a young Latino, but I know Tim Kaine and have the deepest respect for him,” added a Colorado Democrat. “He has that rare quality of listening to people and at the same time the honesty to tell folks the truth, not make empty promises. He is an incredibly compassionate human being who looks at politics as public service. Having worked closely with Tim Kaine in the past, I know how committed he is to the public good.”
A Nevada Democrat added: “Tim is a good and decent man, and people get that about him quickly. He will create quite a positive contrast with the Republican ticket and will add some trustworthiness to Hillary’s image.”
Even in Iowa, where a number of insiders said they were pulling for Tom Vilsack — Obama’s long-time agriculture secretary and the state’s former governor — the Kaine pick was met with cheers.
“While all Iowa Democrats would have been thrilled to have our former governor, Tom Vilsack, on the ticket with Hillary, that did not happen. Sen. Kaine is a wonderful choice and brings to the ticket a strong background in foreign relations and military matters.”
The vast majority of Democrats were unmoved by the suggestion that progressive voters won’t get behind the ticket now that Clinton has chosen a running mate with a more moderate record.
“Voters don’t vote for vice president,” said one Nevada Democrat. “If you were a progressive hold-out, the VP most likely wasn’t going to change your mind. Let’s see where those voters stand after the full court press of a Democratic National Convention — a convention that includes a prominent role for Bernie Sanders and other progressives.”
There were some skeptical Democrats, however. Some insisted that Clinton whiffed by not picking a more progressive, or ethnically diverse, candidate.
“She should have been bold enough to look to the future, to capture the spirit of forward movement in America,” said a Florida Democrat. “The opportunity to recognize the millennials has been missed. Hillary allowed Donald Trump’s fear of a new America to prevent her from the bold acceptance of the benefits and advantages of diversity in America.”
One Colorado Democrat looked unfavorably on Kaine’s tenure as chairman of the Democratic National Committee; Kaine was chosen by President Obama and served as DNC chair between his term as governor and the launch of his campaign for Senate in 2012. That Democrat called the pick: “an I-95 move that fails to comprehend that voters do not want insiders,” adding: “Many activists remember Kaine as the person who dismantled [Howard] Dean’s 50-State Strategy and then oversaw one of the greatest Democratic losses in 2010.”
But overall, Kaine earned plaudits from the battleground-state operatives — including those in the other party.
“He is a confident, experienced person highly popular in a swing state,” a New Hampshire Republican said. “He meets every test of having to potentially step in as POTUS and meets the Holiday Inn test: The best surprise is no surprise.”
Ultimately, however, insiders cast doubt on the importance of the running mate to the candidate’s chances to win.
“The political implications of the VP pick are overblown,” a Florida Democrat said. “Basically it is a pass/fail test, and with Kaine she passed it with flying colors.”
A Republican in Kaine’s home state called the senator “nice and likable. A really nice guy all-around. While he is more liberal than he presents, his style is very suburban and low-key. He is clean and won’t embarrass [Clinton], which after all is the primary requirement.”
These are the members of The POLITICO Caucus, not all of whom participated in either survey:
Colorado: Ryan Call, Laura Carno, Matt Chandler, Will Coyne, Adam Eichberg, Mark Ferrandino, Cole Finegan, Michael Fortney, Andrew Freedman, Ted Harvey, Craig Hughes, Owen Loftus, Pete Maysmith, Frank McNulty, Karen Middleton, Christopher Murray, BJ Nikkel, Josh Penry, Rick Ridder, Alan Salazar, Janice Sinden, Pat Steadman, Pat Waak, Steve Welchert, Taylor West, Roxane White, Rob Witwer
Florida: Fernand Amandi, Scott Arceneaux, JP Austin, Tim Baker, Dennis K. Baxley, Slater Bayliss, Dave Beattie, Wayne Bertsch, Ron Book, Pamela Burch Fort, Jose Calderon, Kevin Cate, Kelly Cohen, Gus Corbella, Brian Crowley, Elizabeth Cuevas-Neunder, Justin Day, Judith Diaz, Nelson Diaz, John Dowless, Ryan Duffy, Jessica Ehrlich, Joe Falk, Alia Faraj-Johnson, Mark Ferrulo, Damien Filer, Marty Fiorentino, Rich Heffley, Nick Iarossi, David Johnson, Eric Johnson, Marian Johnson, Eric Jotkoff, Chris Korge, Jackie Lee, Susan MacManus, Beth Matuga, Fred Menachem, Jon Mills, Joe Mobley, Ben Pollara, Andrea Reilly, Steve Schale, April Schiff, Max Steele, Roger Stone, Richard Swann, Kevin Sweeny, Christian Ulvert, Steve Vancore, Ashley Walker, Andrew Weinstein, Andrew Wiggins, Ryan Wiggins, Rick Wilson
Iowa: Tim Albrecht, Brad Anderson, Rob Barron, Jeff Boeyink, Bonnie Campbell, Dave Caris, Sam Clovis, Jerry Crawford, Sara Craig, John Davis, Steve Deace, John Deeth, Derek Eadon, Ed Failor Jr., Karen Fesler, David Fischer, Ben Foecke, Doug Gross, Steve Grubbs, Tim Hagle, Bob Haus, Joe Henry, Drew Ivers, Jill June, Lori Jungling, Jeff Kaufmann, Brian Kennedy, Jake Ketzner, David Kochel, Chris Larimer, Chuck Larson, Jill Latham, Jeff Link, Dave Loebsack, Mark Lucas, Liz Mathis, Jan Michelson, Chad Olsen, David Oman, Matt Paul, Marlys Popma, Troy Price, Christopher Rants, Kim Reem, Craig Robinson, Sam Roecker, David Roederer, Nick Ryan, Tamara Scott, Joni Scotter, Karen Slifka, John Smith, AJ Spiker, Norm Sterzenbach, John Stineman, Matt Strawn, Charlie Szold, Phil Valenziano, Jessica Vanden Berg, Nate Willems, Eric Woolson, Grant Young
Michigan: Jill Alper, Saul Anuzis, Andrea Bitely, Lori Carpentier, Howard Edelson, Jordan Gehrke, Steve Hood, Joe Lehman, Dennis Lennox, Katie Packer, Ronna Romney McDaniel, John Truscott, Stephanie White, John Yob
Nevada: Mac Abrams, Greg Bailor, Barbara Buckley, Yvanna Cancela, Bob Cavazos, Linda Cavazos, Jim DeGraffenreid, Andrew Diss, Peter Ernaut, Ryan Erwin, Chip Evans, Jay Gerstema, Oscar Goodman, Ryan Hamilton, Dan Hart, Pat Hickey, Zach Hudson, Jeremy Hughes, Megan Jones, Lindsey Jydstrup, Adam Khan, Peter Koltak, Roberta Lange, Sam Liberman, Laura Martin, Michael McDonald, Chuck Muth, Erven Nelson, Kristen Orthman, Neal Patel, Nick Phillips, Jon Ralston, Andres Ramires, Emmy Ruiz, Scott Scheid, Mike Slanker, James Smack, Paul Smith, Jack St. Martin, Mari St. Martin, Daniel Stewart, Brendan Summers, Riley Sutton, Robert Uithoven, Michelle White, Ed Williams, Heidi Wixom
New Hampshire: Charlie Arlinghaus, Arnie Arnesen, Patrick Arnold, Rich Ashooh, Dean Barker, Juliana Bergeron, D.J. Bettencourt, Michael Biundo, Ray Buckley, Peter Burling, Jamie Burnett, Debby Butler, Dave Carney, Jackie Cilley, Catherine Corkery, Corriveau, Fergus Cullen, Lou D’Allesandro, James Demers, Mike Dennehy, Sean Downey, Steve Duprey, JoAnn Fenton, Jennifer Frizzell, Martha Fuller Clark, Amanda Grady Sexton, Jack Heath, Gary Hirshberg, Jennifer Horn, Peter Kavanaugh, Joe Keefe, Rich Killion, Harrell Kirstein, Sylvia Larsen, Joel Maiola, Kate Malloy Corriveau, Maureen Manning, Steve Marchand, Tory Mazzola, Jim Merrill, Jayne Millerick, Claira Monier, Greg Moore, Matt Mowers, Terie Norelli, Chris Pappas, Liz Purdy, Tom Rath, Colin Reed, Jim Rubens, Andy Sanborn, Dante Scala, William Shaheen, Stefany Shaheen, Carol Shea-Porter, Terry Shumaker, Andy Smith, Craig Stevens, Kathy Sullivan, Chris Sununu, James Sununu, Jay Surdukowski, Donna Sytek, Kari Thurman, Colin Van Ostern, Deb Vanderbeek, Mike Vlacich, Ryan Williams
North Carolina: Don Davis, Francis X. De Luca, Anita Earls, Jonathan Felts, Tami L. Fitzgerald, Dylan Frick, Taylor Griffin, Robin Hayes, Morgan Jackson, Patsy Keever, Theresa Kostrzewa, Michael Luethy, Ray Martin, Thomas Mills, Melissa L. Reed, Chris Sgro, Paul Shumaker, Dee Stewart, Brad Thompson, Bruce Thompson, Charlie Wallin, Doug Wilson
Ohio: Jerry Austin, Greg Beswick, Matt Borges, Erica Bruton, Tim Burke, Janet Carson, Jai Chabria, Martha Clark, Bob Clegg, Damareo Cooper, Jo Ann Davidson, Michael Dawson, Bill DeMora, Cindy Demse, Kathy Dicristofaro, Katie Eagan, Michael Gonidakis, Wes Goodman, Joe Hallett, Ian James, Melissa Klide Hedden, David Leland, Nick Martin, Rhine McLin, David Pepper, Molly Shack, Mark R. Weaver
Pennsylvania: Chris Borick, Larry Ceisler, Valentino DiGiorgio, Jason Ercole, Dan Fee, Charlie Gerow, Marcel Groen, Leslie Gromis Baker, Mark Harris, Nan McLaughlin, Aubrey Montgomery, Christopher Nicholas, Nachama Soloveichik, David Sosar, Todd Stephens, Doc Sweitzer, David Thornburgh, Ray Zaborney
Virginia: Ray Allen, Sandra Brandt, Marc K. Broklawski, Patsy Brown, Janet Carver, John Cosgrove, Brian Coy, Doris Crouse-Mays, Tom Davis, Julie Dime, Abbi Easter, Mike Farris, John Findlay, Joe Fitzgerald, Sean Harrison, Margo Horner, Robert Hurt, Gaylene Kanoyton, Chris LaCivita, Sue Langley, Frank Leone, Robert G. Marshall, Tucker Martin, Ed Matricardi, Susan J. Rowland, Peter Snyder, Susan Swecker, Jo Thoburn
Wisconsin: Meg Andrietsch, Mary Arnold, Kevin Barthel, Mike Basford, Rebecca Bonesteel, Barry Burden, Terri Burl, Jim Camery, Patrick Guarasci, Robert Hansen, Gary Hawley, Marian Krumberger, Emily Nehring, Jason Rae, Brandon Scholz, John Zapfel
Kristen Hayford contributed to this report.