President Barack Obama has given his strong endorsement to Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the presidency and urged Democrats to unite behind the first women nominee in the nation’s history.
I am with her. I am fired up. And I cannot wait to get out there and campaign for Hillary.
The President issued his endorsement via social media shortly after he held a 90-minute meeting with Bernie Sanders, who has vigorously contested the nomination over the past year. While Mr. Sanders did not offer to withdraw from the race, he thanked the President for his “impartiality” during the primaries and confirmed he would soon meet with Hillary Clinton to discuss how Donald Trump can be defeated in November.
The President said “I know how hard this job can be. That's why I know Hillary will be so good at it. I am with her. I am fired up. And I cannot wait to get out there and campaign for Hillary.” Clinton’s campaign announced that the President would join her next week for a campaign rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Obama’s Support is No Surprise
While the President’s announcement of support for Clinton is no surprise, what is less certain is how helpful it will be during the campaign. The Wall Street Journal reported that the President’s overall favorability rating is higher than Hillary Clinton’s with 49% of the country having a favorable view of the President while 41% view him unfavorably. However, the article points out that Obama’s favorability rating is not nearly as good in the battleground states where he has a 45% unfavorable rating, compared to 43% of the voters who view the President favorably.
Hillary has several challenges to overcome in the next few weeks. Her immediate priority is to get supporters of Bernie Sanders on board with her campaign and bring with them the enthusiasm they showed for Bernie. However, Hillary cannot afford to run on the progressive platform favored by Sanders in the general election, and she will need to pivot more to the center to win in November. It will take all of Clinton’s political skills to pull this off without alienating Bernie’s army of supporters.
Voters Desire Change
The overriding message of 2016 is the desire of the country for a change. Both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are candidates that have rejected the old ways of politics, and the voters have responded positively. In a speech Tuesday evening, Trump made an appeal for Sanders’s supporters to join him as the candidate of change. "To all of those Bernie Sanders voters who have been left out in the cold by a rigged system of superdelegates, we welcome you with open arms.”
The Hill reported that Trump campaign spokesperson Katrina Pierson told CNN that she thinks that half of Bernie Sanders supporters will support Trump in the fall. Those kinds of numbers boggle the mind, but if Trump picks up even 10 to 15% of Sanders supporters, Clinton will be in trouble.
It's hard for any party to hang on to the White House for 12 years, and it's a long road. A thousand things could happen.
— Former President Bill Clinton
Time is the great equalizer in politics, and there is plenty of time between now and November. For Hillary Clinton, this has been a good week and for Donald Trump a bad week. But a week is a lifetime in the political news cycle, and there will be many more ups and downs for both candidates in the week’s to come.
Third Term Curse
Hillary greatest challenge is likely not to be Donald Trump, but rather the voter’s deep reluctance to keep the same party in the presidency for more than two terms —sometimes referred to as the “third term curse.” Since World War II the same political party has only won three straight presidential elections one time, which was when George H.W. Bush succeeded Ronald Reagan in 1988. Of course, that does not mean it can’t happen in 2016, but as former President Bill Clinton noted, "It's hard for any party to hang on to the White House for 12 years, and it's a long road. A thousand things could happen."
And, no doubt a thousand things will happen between now and election day. We are still in the infancy of the 2016 campaign between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and there will be many changes in the fortunes of each candidate between now and November 8.