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Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 12/ 9/2010

Fantasy primary games

By Jennifer Rubin

It's the newest parlor game in Washington: figure out which Democrat could be induced to mount a primary challenge to Obama. It is not a game for Democrats, who notwithstanding the cranks and the hard left (okay, there's some overlap there), understand that the notion of a primary challenge against an African American president in a Democratic primary is, well, silly. But Republicans like to daydream. Ross Douthat did yesterday:

What Obama has to worry about isn't a Dean or a Russ Feingold or an Evan Bayh -- or, the fantasies of pundits notwithstanding, a Hillary Clinton. He needs to worry about a liberal version of Pat Buchanan in 1992: Somebody with name recognition and no broader political ambitions, who can serve as a conduit for Democratic discontent in Iowa and New Hampshire. Somebody who could embarrass the White House by taking, say, 30 percent of the vote in an early primary, and congratulate themselves on a job well done. Somebody with a high profile, a silver tongue, and a flair for melodrama, who would attract media attention just by throwing their hat into the ring.

Arianna Huffington, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you....

Update: Sadly for both Arianna and America, I am reminded that Huffington was born in Greece. It remains now for you, Rachel Maddow.

I admit I was mulling over the possible primary contenders with a conservative friend (one of the cleverest of the lot) yesterday. It couldn't be a Blue Dog, because what could be more Blue Doggish than agreeing to extend the Bush tax cuts? There won't be room to run to Obama's right in a primary. It has to be someone semi-credible, in order to get the president to pay attention to a potential challenge. I've got the candidate: Jerry Brown.

Brown bedeviled Bill Clinton in 1992. He's got nothing to lose (really, winning the governorship of California is a heck of a lot better than being governor of California these days), and he's actually won elections and held office. Moreover, he is just savvy enough to run left (e.g. promise to pass Don't Ask/Don't Tell by executive order, come out in favor of gay marriage) and run right (e.g. he was a tough-on-crime mayor, so none of this dillydallying with terrorists).

Do you have a better candidate? If so, tell me who and why you think so in the comments section.

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 9, 2010; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  2012 campaign, President Obama  
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Next: Rep. Peter King interview (Part 2)


JR,why don't you concentrate on who will run in 2012 that supports your positions instead of worrying so much about the opposition to your opinions?

Posted by: rcaruth | December 9, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

rcaruth, good point.

Actually, what Ms. Rubin is doing is trying to get her comment numbers up. Yesterday was not a strong day, comment-wise. So she's using the "what do readers think" ploy to increase the comment count.

Personally, it's far down on my list of things I'd do to amuse myself but if others get a charge out of playing, please do so.

Posted by: MsJS | December 9, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

There's no shortage of strong names to challenge Obama: John Kerry, Al Gore, John Edwards, Richard Daley, ..., etc. Maybe Jimmy Carter can be persuaded?

My favorite candidate: Nancy Pelosi. What's she going to do in the next Congress?

Posted by: carldahlman | December 9, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

rcaruth, good point.
Actually, what Ms. Rubin is doing is trying to get her comment numbers up. Yesterday was not a strong day, comment-wise. So she's using the "what do readers think" ploy to increase the comment count

I'm sure her comment #s have a lot to do with her compensation,like a Straight Commission salesman. When she was at Contentions,there were no comments,so she could pretend that many were interested in her opinions. The truth was that commentators liked to joust with each other,JR was/is not there,meaning,she comments from above,but rarely will condescend to responding to comments directly. She is the model for "Trickle down" Blogging.

Posted by: rcaruth | December 9, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

As of now, if Mayor Mike (Bloomberg) doesn't challenge Obama, then Hillary Clinton is the only credible challenger for the Dem nomination.

The far lefties? But the buzzing of flies, who will not amount to anything in the primaries.

And, yes, it is the conservatives' version of the hot stove league: all palaver, no heavy lifting. Sure is fun, though.

What might actually happen? Mayor Mike just might carry out his threat to run as an independent.

Which I'm thinking would drain far more votes from Obama in the general than, say, from Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich.

Posted by: Jack43 | December 9, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

I like the Nancy Pelosi candidacy. She's already positioned herself to the left of the WH and been abused by the WH for doing so. Her chutzpah knows no bounds; she sticks it to the Catholic church every Sunday without a qualm. She believes in her infallibility almost more than O believes in his. And she's wealthy.

Heh. I'd love to see those two go at it.

Posted by: kafbst | December 9, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Jen, I think it would make more sense for Michael Bloomberg to primary Obama not from the left or from the right, but right up Obama's alley. He can posit himself as a more competent executive and better able to get the left's agenda through. Bloomberg's challenge can be open ended and spillover into an independent bid since he has unlimited financial resources, being worth $20 plus billion.

Posted by: stevendufresne | December 9, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Over at The Spine, Peretz suggested Newark mayor Cory Booker. Have no idea where THAT came from.

Anyway, I think there might be more than one challenger, from the left, and from the center-right. Not Hillary.

J-Ru has it all wrong when she concludes "what could be more Blue Doggish than agreeing to extend the Bush tax cuts?"
A true Blue Dog is a fiscal conservative, not one who caves to expand the deficit.

As unlikely as it is, that would be Gene Taylor, the Robert-Redfordishlooking congessman from Mississippi who lost his seat in 2010 after twenty years, but can make the intricacies of insurance coverage for wind damage sparkling clear to a 12 year old. Gene Taylor at minimum would remind the Democrats of why they lost, by backtracking into 1964 liberalism.

from wiki: "...[Taylor] voted against the tax cuts passed in 2001 and 2003, claiming that the cuts contained in those bills would only increase the national debt. He derided the prescription drug plan passed in 2003 as a giveaway to companies that donate to the Republican Party. ..."

Anyone who sold corrugated brown boxes 1977-1989 actually understands the real economy better than any other politician I can think of.

Posted by: K2K2 | December 9, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Two words: Anthony Weiner.

Posted by: eoniii | December 9, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Marion Barry

Posted by: johnnyramone | December 9, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

"JR,why don't you concentrate on who will run in 2012 that supports your positions instead of worrying so much about the opposition to your opinions?"

What, you're worried she'll use up her daily supply of pixels?

The question is less "will anyone run" than "will anyone who matters run?" I'd be surprised if Ralph Nader didn't run, and only slightly more surprised if Dennis Kucinich didn't. But among the sane and potentially electable, the logic of the African-American base is pretty hard to overcome.

So: Sharpton in 2012?

Posted by: mgmax | December 9, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

mgmax beat me to it - Kucinich. He's almost to the left of Karl Marx.

Speaking of Nader, I saw him speak when I was in college (Northeastern Univ) and I have to admit, he was pretty good. I of course don't agree with Nader much, but I'd go see him speak again if the opportunity provided itself.

Posted by: RitchieEmmons | December 9, 2010 10:31 PM | Report abuse

I think Bloomberg is perfect! A self-funded liberal with a massive ego.

Posted by: Jennifer Rubin | December 9, 2010 11:36 PM | Report abuse

Albert Gore: He matches can match Obama on star power, intellect, fundraising, academic pedigree, and experience. Moreover, he can likely win some of the big states that Obama won't win in 2012 (Florida, Pennsylvania).

Posted by: beclark3 | December 10, 2010 1:39 AM | Report abuse

Why is anyone upset with Jennifer's participation in everyone's favorite parlor game -- who might primary against the Annoited One? After all, the media selected the GOP presidential candidate last time around. I didn't hear/see much liberal grousing about that.

Posted by: VideoSavant | December 10, 2010 7:26 AM | Report abuse

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