By Rich Zeoli
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — An inevitable candidate about to break a barrier. The allegiance of the Democratic Party. Wealthy New York & national donors ready to write big checks. Sure, there’s baggage, but once the name is on the ballot, 40 percent of the county is automatically voting D, so it’s just about getting a few more percentage points to win the White House. Yet to the surprise of many, the powerhouse of the Democratic Party, the sure thing, takes a pass on running for President.
New York Governor Mario Cuomo was that inevitable candidate in the 1992 Democratic primary. The first Italian American with a legitimate shot at the White House, national name recognition, and the support of the party. Just as everyone is so sure today of the inevitably of Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy, so sure were the Democratic power brokers in 1991 that there was no B team. So when Cuomo announced he was not running for President, an unknown Governor of a much smaller state seized the moment and the rest is history.
Are we looking at history repeating itself as we near 2016? Will the Democratic star decide to take a pass? Hillary Clinton’s book tour by all accounts has been a mixed bag. To her critics, she has demonstrated her capacity to be crass and elitist. To her supporters, the interviews put all the questions about Benghazi in the rear view mirror.
Why would Hillary decide to take a pass on 2016 thus ending her political ambitions once and for all when she could easily get on the ballot and capture 40 percent of the vote out of the gate? Let’s put it this way, if Hillary Clinton runs and loses the general election, she is forever defined in history as a two time loser. If she opts out, she will be introduced at every speaking engagement as “former United States Senator, former Secretary of State, and let me tell you, if she had she run in 2016, she would have won with 80 percent of the vote at least!”
So if Hillary Clinton is Mario Cuomo in this analogy, who is Bill Clinton? Ironically, you can look to the son of New York Governor Mario Cuomo. That would be New York Governor Andrew Cuomo who would leap into that race in a, wait for it, New York minute. Or look to Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. Yeah, the nation doesn’t know him either and that’s exactly the way he wants it, for now. And both Governors just so happen to be quietly putting together a team and a battle plan, just like Bill Clinton did in 91, just in case, because the one constant in politics is that nothing is ever constant in politics.
Incidentally, I have prepared political candidates and authors for media interviews and I have learned to study subtleties that are revealed under the glare of the studio lights. I’ve learned to pay attention to eye contact and vocal tone. If everyone has a ‘tell’ at the poker table, everyone has a ‘tell’ on camera. I noticed something while studying Hillary Clinton during the book tour interviews. Her eyes betray the fact that she doesn’t have “it” anymore. That hunger, so necessary to commit to a two year roadshow crisscrossing the county, answering the same questions over and over again, and sleeping in hotels every night. In Philadelphia we call it the “Eye of the Tiger,” and I just don’t see in the eyes. I see an author on a book tour, not a Presidential candidate.