Hillary Clinton as an independent presidential candidate?

From Joe Rothstein:

Consider this scenario:
—After the last primary election votes are counted in South Dakota and Montana June 3 just enough superdelegates declare for Obama to insure his nomination by the thinnest of margins.
—Hillary Clinton claims that the decision to exclude the Florida and Michigan delegations has distorted the nominating process and that the only way to have a fair resolution to this year’s campaign is to carry the fight into the general election. She decides to run as an independent.

Unlikely? How can anyone discount any bizarre development in this strangest of presidential election campaign years? In fact, some Clinton insiders have been floating this very possibility. At the moment, a Clinton independent candidacy is viewed as an idle threat, designed to pressure superdelegates with a party disaster if they don’t nominate Clinton. But when you look at the electoral college calculus, an independent run could represent a realistic path to the White House for Clinton.

The math:

Clinton would concede McCain the South, with the exception of Arkansas, Florida and Louisiana. She would concede him the middle west, with the exception of Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. And she would concede him the Rocky Mountain west, with the exception of New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado and Montana. All of that would give McCain 196 of the 270 electoral votes needed to become President.

Keeping most of her current base of women, Hispanics, older voters and blue collar workers, Clinton would have a fair chance to beat both McCain and Obama in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, New York, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Nevada and New Hampshire. That would give her 165 electoral votes.

Clinton would expect to lose only Illinois, Hawaii and the District of Columbia—-28 electoral votes—-to Obama.

The fight, according to this scenario, would be for Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Missouri, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. A combination of factors would give Clinton an edge in these states.

The third party angle:

Wouldn’t a divided Democratic party leave the door open for McCain to win handily? Not necessarily, the thinking goes. McCain already is pulling some heavy anchors: Bush fatigue, a faltering economy, McCain’s determination to keep troop levels high in Iraq, his iffy support among the GOP conservative base and his age. In most of the competitive GOP primaries earlier this year McCain drew only a third or less of the Republican vote.

This week in Kansas City, Missouri, the Conservative Party is nominating Alan Keyes for President. He is likely to be on the ballot in nearly 50 states and will be a magnet for disenchanted evangelicals and fiscal conservatives alike. Very soon, the Libertarian Party, energized by the Ron Paul experience, is likely to nominate former Georgia congressman Bob Barr for President. Together, Keyes and Barr can be expected to pull as much as 5 points from McCain in many states.

I was already expecting this to be an interesting election year from an independent and third-party angle. An independent Clinton campaign would certainly add a lot of seasoning to an already spicy dish of presidential politics.

37 Responses to “Hillary Clinton as an independent presidential candidate?”

  1. johncjackson Says:

    What is the Conservative Party and who said they are nominating Alan Keyes.

  2. Greg Says:

    How would she get on the ballot? I doubt it’s even technically possible.

  3. Robert Milnes Says:

    A progressive alliance between the LP & GP has a secure block of 34-40% no matter what anybody else does. Any more third parties or independents would not intrude into that block but would further split the dem & rep vote thus making the progressive more viable. So, Run, Billary, Run! As long as the progressives gets the LP ticket, they can win.

  4. Jonathan Cymberknopf Says:

    wow this is how rumors get started and there is not one shred of evidence on this, on the contrary, “The Clintons” would never destroy or make a mockery of the Demcoratic National Party. I’m saying this giving her credit as I think she is the anti-christ

  5. Preston Says:

    Not gonna happen. Clinton puts the Democratic party above philosophy, politics, or ethics.

  6. disinter Says:

    Worked for Lieberman.

  7. Deran Says:

    stupid story. i’ve heard Obamaniacs saying that Obama should do the same thing if he doesn’t get the nomination. Never happen. They are both hardcore Democrats.

  8. Fred C. Says:

    I want to know when this election stopped being about exciting scenarios and started being about nauseating scenarios.

  9. Stefan Says:

    Of course still a rumor, but makes it interesting. I remember a few weeks ago just before TX & OH primaries James Carville - or someone posting under his name - mentioned someone in the Clinton campaign mentioned this, running for the LP nomination or go Indy. No doubt that Clinton wants the presidency at all cost and who knows… In case this happens, the race will indeed be very interesting, with a possible scenario of Obama (D), Clinton (I), McCain®, the LP, CP and GP candidates. In such a scenario, it may even be possible for the LP the win the presidency, who knows… One thing is for sure, this 2008 election cycle is not only highly significant, but also interesting and may just become more interesting. There is an Independent Party also, do not know if they are in all states.

  10. disinter Says:

    In such a scenario, it may even be possible for the LP the win the presidency, who knows…

    Lay off the crack.

  11. disinter Says:

    If Clinton were to win as an independent, we would still have a statist neocon in power.

    If McKook were to win as a Repug, we would still have a statist neocon in power.

    If Bareback Hussein Osama were to win as a Demon, we would still have a statist neocon in power.

    If anyone that challenges the status quo were to win, pigs will start flying.

    Democracy, its the American way.

  12. Thomas M. Sipos Says:

    Clinton would kill the Democratic Party if it’d advance her power. But for now her power is tied with the Democratic Party, so she won’t.

    If Clinton loses to Obama, she’ll work for a McCain victory, so she can run again in 2012. Even if Obama defeats McCain, she can hope for 2012, and certainly for 2016.

    Clinton’s foreseeable future is in the DP. That may change someday, but until it does, she won’t kill her vehicle to power.

  13. Nexus Says:

    “Clinton would kill the Democratic Party if it’d advance her power.”

    Clinton would carve her own daughters heart out with a rusty spoon to advance her power.

    “If Clinton loses to Obama, she’ll work for a McCain victory, so she can run again in 2012.”

    I agree, but she won’t make it obvious. This is why she would never accept the VP slot.

    “she won’t kill her vehicle to power.”

    It wouldn’t suprise me if she killed others who get in her way on her path to power.

  14. disinter Says:

    It wouldn’t suprise me if she killed others who get in her way on her path to power.

    Why would she stop doing what she has been doing?


  15. Nexus Says:

    “Clinton campaign mentioned this, running for the LP nomination”

    The entire membership of the LP would rather commit gory suicide than nominate Hildog.

  16. Nexus Says:

    “Why would she stop doing what she has been doing?”

    Personally, I wouldn’t be suprised if her hands were soaked in blood, but no one will ever be able to prove it.

  17. G.E. Says:

    You guys (and the author of this article) are not seeing the constitutional picture here.

    Hillary does not need to win a majority in the electoral college—she only needs to deny McCain (and Obama) majorities. That would send the election to the House of Representatives, where each state delegation gets one vote and must be unanimous. She could easily be seen as the compromise candidate.

    This is quite plausible if you understand the Constitution.

  18. Mike Gillis Says:

    GE speaks true. That is the exact strategy that George Wallace attempted in 1968 and in doing so, set the Congress into a tailspin to eliminate the Electoral College out of fear that he would be the power broker of a presidential election.

    If Hillary ran independently, and won enough states to prevent a majority in the EC, she could leverage Obama with her electors.

    To do what, I don’t know. Their platforms are already indistinguishable.

  19. johncjackson Says:

    Their platforms are the same, but Clinton gets the “vote for me because I’m a white woman and not a mixed race man with a foreign sounding name that even so-called libertarians attempt to link to Islamofascism and how dare this elitist darky condescend to lazy illiterate white bums”’ vote.

  20. Tom Bryant Says:

    Considering that Clinton’s campaign is in the red, I dont think she’d go the independent route. She’ll need that Senate seat and good standing with the Democrats to run against McCain in 2012

  21. Larry West Says:

    According to Ballot-Access.org, she would have to have her signatures in by May 12th to get on the Texas ballot (I don’t think Nader is even trying there), June 4 to get on in Arizona and New Mexico, and June 12th for North Carolina.
    Thus, if she waits until after June 3rd, there would be many states that she would not get on, except as a write-in candidate. However, only New Mexico would be impossible in regards to the list of states above that she would compete in. (She could qualify as a write-in there.)

    If I were a political party, such as Peace and Freedom, Socialist Equality, etc., I would dump whomever my candidate was and put her instead. There are several states that determine whether a party is recognized based on the Presidential vote. For example, in Kentucky, its 20% of the vote. According to a former county clerk I talked to, they purposely didn’t tell the Reform Party leadership that they were a valid party after Ross Perot’s candidacy.

    http://www.alankeyes.com/discuss/showthread.php?t=751 lists the states that the Constitution Party is on or close to being on.

  22. John Lowell Says:

    The speculation that Hitlery is working today to ensure an Obama defeat so as to promote her own prospects for 2012 is rife. No less than Alex Cockburn supports that notion. But disinter’s point that an independent run modeled on the experience of Leiberman holds water also. She’d occupy a shelf not far from Leiberman’s if she did run independently.

    I cringe in the realization that we face yet another four years without any real prospect of our ever getting past AIPAC domination of our Middle East policy. I cringe also in the realization that we face another four years in which opposition to Mengele-like experimentation upon the tiniest of us is likely to decay further. For one to grasp the slavery we experience, whether to economic or foreign policy lobbies on the one hand, or to some utilitarian/Darwinian version of the future in which only the strong prevail on the other, seems essential if there is to be any meaningful understanding of the dangers we face. And it does not help that there are “Libertarian” voices bent on plunging into the abyss. There is an important distinction to be made between liberty for individuals and liberty for persons and that has everything to do with how we see ourselves.

  23. G.E. Says:

    Larry West - Why would it matter if she were on the Texas ballot? She wouldn’t win there anyway. Do you understand how the electoral college works? Do you understand exactly what happens if one candidate does not get a majority of electoral votes? All of those states you mentioned are sure-winners to likely-winners for McCain. They have absolutely no significance in this scenario whatsoever.

  24. Larry West Says:

    GE - Of course I know the electoral college. The problem is whether Hillary believes in a “50-state strategy”. I am sure that they will do the math and see if they have the votes in Congress. (Unlike what you said earlier, a state does not have to be unanimous - it goes by majority vote of each state’s delegation, with a tie meaning the state doesn’t count).
    She doesn’t have to win outright, just keep the others from getting 270 EVs.
    The original article says that her strategy includes New Mexico. That is the only state she could compete in that she probably would not be able to get on (excluding any states with “sore loser” laws that applies to President).
    I don’t think she’ll do it, but it would make this election year more interesting than it already is.

  25. Mike Theodore Says:

    I knew someone would suggest this at sometime. This happened before, back when Roosevelt ran against Taft and Wilson. Wilson won because the GOP was split. McCain, the worst of apparently 3 evils, will win. No, we’ve learned our lesson. Ah shit, who am I kidding? We never learn

    Go with the serious choice.
    The Key To A Better Tomorrow. What? Oh, You Have To Shake It A Bit. No, Push And Then Turn….Yes….Yes….No, Damnit, Let Me Try.

  26. G.E. Says:

    Larry - I shouldn’t have said unanimous. What I meant by that was that each state gets one vote, and thus it’s treated as though it were unanimous. If the delegations cannot reach a majority (if a majority, rather than a plurality, is needed), then Clinton can be the compromise candidate. Also, Congress is elected and seated before the Electors vote (right?), which further compromises the ability of the Clinton camp to calculate whether they have the votes.

    Here’s now it goes:

    1. If no candidate wins a majority in the Electoral College, the top three candidates move on to a vote by the House.

    2. The House votes by state delegation. It is not clear from the Constitution (although you could consult the historical record for a post-12th amendment case when the election was decided by the House—there was one, right?) whether a state’s vote is determined by plurality or if a majority is needed. It only says each state has one vote.

    3. One candidate is going to have to win 26 states in this manner. The Constitution is silent on what happens if this can’t be done.

    If Clinton could pick off just a few states, it could throw the election to the House, where she could be the compromise candidate. I mean, if she and her people hold tight, they can tell the Obama electors or the Obama House delegations—“Look, if you don’t vote for us, we’re gonna go with McCain. . . If you DO go for us, we’re going to give you posh spaces in the administration.” It is very possible.

  27. Michael Seebeck Says:

    I think G.E. presents a plausible scenario, but there is a major X-factor involved here that wasn’t considered.

    If Hillarious does a Lieberman (bolts the DP and goes independent), her influence in an election where the Electoral Vote is thrown to the House comes back to how well she or B.O. helps the Democratic Congressmen get or stay elected. Loyalty matters. Put another way, who PO’s the least Democratic Congressmen, Hillarious or B.O.?

    But in any case the real question to answer is one of ballot access before the fact, and to be honest she hasn’t the cash or time to make it happen if she starts this after June 3. Right now, maybe, but not then. There’s also the question of which states (as outlined above).

    The only thing I could see to propel her in that direction is her massive ego and makeup bill. But considering that she won’t get the conservative votes (they hate her!) and she’s split the liberal vote now and would do so with Obama and to a lesser extent Nader and the Green, I don’t see it happening from a practical point of view.

  28. G.E. Says:

    Michael - Yes, if the winner were determined by individual plurality in the Congress, then the Democratic nominee (Obama) would win. But that’s not how it works. Each state delegation gets one vote. Assuming Hillary can capture a few state delegations, they can threaten to defect to McCain if the Obama people don’t come her way. She has some “moral legitimacy” to taking such actions, due to the Michigan/Florida situation.

    I don’t think Hillary has a chance in 2012 or 2016. The Clintons cannot lose. If they do, it’s over for them. This is unlike Obama. Hillary is a rat in a corner and she will fight harder than Obama. That’s why this scenario has even a 1% chance of playing out. It’s not likely, for sure, but if you understand the way the Constitution deals with Electoral College gridlock, it makes an attempt by a desperate Hillary quite plausible. Hillary would have a legit shot of winning the presidency if she ran independently.

    In terms of Electoral votes, this election is going to be close. If Hillary executed the property strategy, she could avoid giving McCain any additional states. Then the only question is: Can she win any states? If she can, then she would almost certainly deny Obama a majority. From there on out, she has a shot. This is the equivalent of a basketball coach fouling on every possession when he’s down 10 points with a minute to go in a championship game. It is unlikely to work, but if there’s no turning back from defeat, why not give it a try?

  29. Pete Kelly Says:

    Dear Mr. Rothstein,

    Ballot access is the issue.

    There is only one way for the lady to get on the ballot this late in the game.

    Constitution Party convention is now. Libertarians are in May. She is too late for them.

    The Green Party convention is July in Chicago. The Lady would have to join the Green Party. She would have seek and win the Green Party nomination to get on the ballot. Mike Gravel, Cynthia Mckinney, Jesse Johnson, and Ralph Nader are the most likely Green Party nominees now.

    She simply doesn’t have time to get the signatures necessary to be on the ballot as an Independent.

    Could she pull it off this late? Fun conjecture. Much more interesting than the boring two major party drivel major media keeps force feeding us.

  30. Pete Kelly Says:

    Oh yes,...and she would be helped by winning the Independence Party’s ballot lines in about 10 or so states….Independent/ce Green Party would do it for her..Green Party is up around 25 state ballot lines now and growing…by the day..

  31. Michael Seebeck Says:

    Neither the CP or LP would have her, Pete. (except maybe in a stock to throw tomatoes at!)

  32. G.E. Says:

    I’d rather have her than Bob Barr.

  33. Catholic Trotskyist Says:

    Clearly, John Lowell is right that this is a terrible time for our civilization. Fortunately, the Barack Obama Revolution will overcome all obstacles. Hopefully this threat by hillary will encourage more people to adopt the Fringe Alliance Statregy.

  34. Conspiracy Monger Says:

    No reason why Hillary wouldn’t take the VP nod.

    If she did, I would take out a life insurance policy on B.O.’s life.

    If Vince Foster can shoot himself in the back of the head with a black powder pistol that fired a 9mm, then roll himself up in a carpet just hours after a full dinner and sex…and if Ron Brown’s plane can crash during a “storm” with clear skies, then ANYTHING is possible with the Clinton machine.

    There are literally HUNDREDS of similar cases related to the Clintons.

  35. Stefan Says:

    Yes, I go accord with this last statement. If she goes to another party, it will be clear that she is for her own power, and she would not like mothers to see that. At the moment, she is hoping that the superdelegates see Obama imploding and consider her as more viable and for a relative strong showing with the remaining primaries, otherwise she will ensure the so called “dream-ticket” and arrange something for BO, and blame it on white racists or even terrorists. (If Obama has been a Muslim at any time, he would be considered an infidel now by any Muslim).
    Perhaps a good strategy fro them is to arrange something like this if BO is on visit in Iraq, or on the way per plane (e.g shot by a missile). She will do anything to be the president and would know she has to do a wise thing and not go third party. They could also stage an even where a sharpshooter supposedly fires on BO, but then the ambulance ensures that “he is taken care of”. This is unfortunately the reality of human greed and power.

  36. Sean Says:

    My hope is to get Hillary as McCain’s VP. Think of the goodness that would follow :-)

  37. indo45 Says:

    Many poeple regreted not see her and not vote her. now they seemed do not have a choice , they do not want vote McCain or Obama. Time have proved HRC will be a great president. Run third party Hillary. Give Obama all superdelegates, let DNC unite, But do not give your voters. We will win, I talked with many poeple they turned like you, Hillary. I will campaign for you.

    Run an independent, Hillary . Obama can not wait. I can not wait too for you to be a woman president , I has been waiting for 16 years .

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