Off Main: Primary chatter has picked up, but the prime contender looks pretty familiar
The crowd for the rally, tallied at 14,000 by the fire marshall, started lining up for the morning rally before daylight. President Obama visits Concord with President Clinton, November 4, 2012. Rally in downtown Concord.
(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)
It was called the “Ready for Hillary” bus tour, but for those of us in Concord with memories of the 2008 presidential primary, it might well have been called the “Not Ready for Anyone Just Yet Bus Tour.” Yes, Hillary Clinton is the presumptive Democratic nominee. Yes, she has huge support in New Hampshire. But it’s a year-and-a-half until the primary, and more than two years until the general election for president.
Could everyone just hold off for a while?
I know, I know. Nothing official has been decided. Hillary might choose a life of peace and quiet and gargantuan speaker’s fees. Yet we know that she wanted to be president once, she’s written a book, and polling aplenty backs up her formidable status. There’s also that little matter of making history as the first female president. But we could all use some time to get ready.
The other candidates need a chance to pick their vehicles, for one. We need to see a “Return of Romney” limousine and a “Why Not Alan Keyes?” Zamboni on the road. Don’t forget the Elizabeth Warren hybrid, Joe Biden Pinto or Mike Huckabee monster truck. How can we truly judge the candidates without comparing their symbolic transportation?
A look ahead
If Hillary runs, the Democratic side of things will be all too predictable.
First off, an entire generation of Concord twentysomethings will either be employed by her campaign or be friends with people who are. This not only gives them a ready topic of conversation at parties, but also allows for the accumulation of war stories to be shared in decades to come. Not that more mature Concordites will be ignored: Someone has to own houses to give the house parties in.
There will be inevitable reams of coverage about Hillary’s tenure as secretary of state (Republican translation: Benghazi), about her age (Republican translation: doddering) and about her and her husband’s long public careers (Republican translation: Monica Lewinsky).
At some point, one of her staffers will do something dumb – sending out a badly Photoshopped picture of Martin O’Malley, for instance – and will earn a day or two of news coverage until his or her inevitable firing. In the case of a mature supporter, replace “firing” with “resign from his or her position as an honorary campaign co-chair.”
The other side
As for the Republicans, nothing is remotely settled.
We don’t even have a good sense of who is running, although names like Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio and Chris Christie are floating around. Mitt Romney is even facing calls to run again, although I happen to believe that’s an elaborate scheme cooked up by lazy political reporters who don’t want to research unfamiliar candidates. Besides, Mitt is currently outpolling President Obama. Why mess with a good thing by actually having the job?
Regardless, the GOP contest promises to have actual fireworks. No one has an aura of inevitability, and the Main Street versus Tea Party conflict of the last couple of years will surely break out into a knife fight or two. But that also means it’s difficult to predict the outcome.
I will, however, predict that you’ll be sick and tired of hearing about Obamacare, illegal immigration and budget deficits. The Republicans may change, you see, but the things they dislike remain constant.
It will all be a riveting spectacle for political junkies.
Even jaded folks like me will come around – probably by next summer, when the town halls begin. The fall will offer handshakes, gaffes and stump speeches aplenty. As winter falls and as the whole circus nears its conclusion, the national media will once again descend and ask, “How many New Hampshire stereotypes can we fit into a two-minute segment?”
Words such as “flinty” and “independent” and “incredibly white” will be used.
On election night, the nation’s eyes will be turned to New Hampshire. Will Hillary Clinton prevail among Democrats? Will John McCain somehow win the GOP votes despite not being on the ballot? Will we all be so weary of the campaigning that we’ll head to bed early? Check back in early 2016 and find out.
Until then, I’ll just ask the Clinton-ites among us to take it easy. They will be running a campaign – and possibly the country – soon enough.
(Clay Wirestone can be reached at 369-3305, cwirestone@cmonitor or on Twitter @ClayWires.)