Last week, the New York Times published an eye-popping story about a recent dinner at a ritzy Manhattan hotel, where Democratic big donors fantasized about possible late entrants to the presidential race. Hillary Clinton, Michael Bloomberg and Michelle Obama were among those discussed as potential alternatives to the current field. Former secretary of state John F. Kerry, former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr., former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) have also been encouraged to run. Oprah Winfrey, once considered a possible candidate herself, has even touted Disney CEO Bob Iger as the ideal nominee.
This sort of speculation is a tradition in presidential primaries. It’s also evidence that Democratic elites are detached from reality. Clinton’s book tour and scheduled appearance at a Clinton Foundation conference on “economic inclusion and growth” on Nov. 20 (the same day as the next Democratic debate) have fueled rumors about her intentions. But she and Kerry are the last two Democrats to lose in a general election. Bloomberg is the definition of a plutocrat. What can any of them offer, aside from money, that the existing crop of centrists cannot?
Party elites claim the desire for alternatives isn’t motivated by ideology, but rather sincere worries about the electability of a progressive left nominee. As former Obama adviser David Axelrod told the Times, “There is genuine concern that the horse many have bet on [Biden] may be pulling up lame and the horse who has sprinted out front may not be able to win.” It is fair to question how genuine those electability concerns are, however, with polls, fickle as they can be, showing Sanders and Warren trouncing President Trump in head-to-head matchups.