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Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren Need to Drop Out of 2020 Race


Joe Biden Event New Hampshire

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

I wrote last week that, particularly based on what happened in 2016, political factions are too hesitant to panic, even when a campaign, much like an aircraft carrier headed directly into a violent storm, is imperiled and dramatic action must be taken immediately to prevent disaster. Now, with the results of New Hampshire primary, there is no longer time for patience.

If Democrats really want to beat President Donald Trump, some major moves have to be made immediately.  Specifically, Joe Biden (whom I have previously promoted as having the best chance to beat Trump), and Elizabeth Warren (whom I don’t believe would be likely to beat Trump) need to exit the race within days. If not sooner.

I am not so naive as to think that this stunning scenario is actually going to happen, but the case for why it should is now extremely strong.

First, it should be noted that, based on the basic rules as they have always been, both Biden and Warren should be forced out of the race at this point regardless of the exponentially amplified stakes due to the dangers of a second Trump term. In fact, it is absurd that there probably won’t be much media pressure for this to happen based simply on the results of Iowa and New Hampshire.

This is especially the case for Warren who, as a senator from neighboring Massachusetts, should be held to a rather high standard in New Hampshire. Her feeble fourth or fifth place finish there should be cast as a death sentence for her campaign, especially after a weak third in Iowa.

For comparison’s sake, in 2008, when former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney finished a rather strong second in the New Hampshire primary, it crippled his campaign and he dropped out less than a month later. Had Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry not won New Hampshire in 2004, he would have probably met the same fate. No current Massachusetts elected official has EVER done as poorly in the modern history of the New Hampshire primary.

As for Biden, the notion of a national frontrunner with 100% name recognition surviving anemic 4th and 4th or 5th place finishes in the first two contests, regardless of his campaign’s delusions of a big victory in South Carolina somehow turning things around weeks from now, is ludicrous. Using 2008 again, John McCain salvaged his sinking campaign with a decisive win in New Hampshire.  No one in the history of the current primary system has ever come close to winning a presidential nomination after such poor performances in Iowa and New Hampshire.

I fully realize that modern technology and media fragmentation have effectively changed the rules about when candidates must get out, but there are other important factors which make it imperative that Biden and Warren pull out of the race very soon. Specifically, they are both, inadvertently of course, now making it far more difficult for their party to nominate a candidate that doesn’t require some sort of catastrophe to beat Trump.

The first part of my premise for this strong belief is that both Bernie Sanders (who is now the “frontrunner” despite getting FAR fewer votes than he did in Iowa and New Hampshire during his losing 2016 campaign) and Pete Buttigieg would be torn apart in a general election campaign against Trump. The second element is that Amy Klobuchar can indeed beat Trump. Biden and Warren are now, in different ways, blocking her ability to grow the incredible momentum from New Hampshire into a movement that can prevail in a long battle for the party’s nomination.

If Biden and Warren were to follow the lead of Mitt Romney’s impeachment vote and sacrifice themselves for the good of the nation (to be clear, both of them still have a theoretical shot at the nomination) by dropping out before they are officially declared dead, it would allow Democratic moderates, and those who prefer a female candidate, to unite behind Klobuchar. Without something like that scenario, Sanders and Buttigieg will be able to ride their 20-30% of these upcoming contests to dominance, eventually making it a three-person race (with Michael Bloomberg able to fund his own campaign) once Biden, Warren, and Klobuchar eventually run out of gas.

If Klobuchar was allowed the space to run freely (and even just a little wind at her back blown from Barack Obama would be VERY helpful), it would turn into a four-person race where she was well positioned, as the only woman and the only candidate who can easily appeal to all of the key elements of the Democratic voting base, to emerge victorious. If she is not given that opportunity, then the nominee will almost certainly be Sanders or Buttigieg — who are handicapped against Trump — or maybe Bloomberg who, as a former Republican who endorsed George W. Bush at the GOP convention in 2004, could only win the Democratic nomination after a bloody civil war, one which would surely ignite a major third-party run (maybe by Sanders himself) and very likely cause Trump’s reelection.

To be clear, I am not expecting Warren or Biden to make this sacrifice (though it may be the best way for each of them to save face), at least not in time for it to be effective. I am just providing one of the very few safe paths left for the country to be spared of four more years of Donald Trump as our president.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and whether Trump critics want to admit to it yet or not, we are now in a very perilous situation.

John Ziegler is a senior columnist for Mediaite. He hosts a weekly podcast focusing on news media issues and is documentary filmmaker. You can follow him on Twitter at @ZigManFreud  or email him at [email protected]

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.



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