Are big-name Republicans preparing to endorse Hillary if the race is still close before Election Day?
I haven’t heard anything to suggest they are but I don’t think John Ziegler’s totally off-base in speculating at the tail end of the clip below. Ziegler told Glenn Beck last week that if the race is a toss-up in the final days, he thinks no less than George W. Bush will step up and back Clinton to try to nudge wavering Republicans into her column. I highly doubt it, if for no other reason than that Hillary really, really shouldn’t want Dubya’s endorsement and would almost certainly turn it down even if he offered. The Bush seal of approval is more likely to tilt wavering Democrats against Clinton, I would think, than to tilt Republicans towards her, especially the Sanders fans who already grumble about her being a warmonger.
If not Bush, though, then who? There probably will be some brand-name Republicans who loathe Trump so much that they’re prepared to endorse Hillary if necessary, but offhand there’s only one — possibly two — I can think of who might do it and who might matter. Romney won’t do it, I think, and if he did it wouldn’t matter. He doesn’t have enough goodwill among Republican voters to make them think hard about their choice; if anything, him backing Clinton would be seen as proof of his essential RINOness and dismissed as lingering sour grapes towards Trump. Colin Powell would probably do it, but after the email leak last week, why would Clinton want his support? Putting him in front of cameras to make the case for Hillary would only lead to reporters asking him if he still thinks Bill Clinton is “d*cking bimbos.” Robert Gates would probably do it too purely as an “anyone but Trump” move, despite his criticism of Hillary in that op-ed this weekend, but Gates is too obscure to change any voter’s mind.
The one Republican with a big enough name to get some attention and enough bipartisan goodwill not to hurt Clinton with her own side is Dubya’s father, George H.W. Bush. The Bushes loathe Trump, especially after he humiliated Jeb in the primaries, and Bush 41 has famously grown close to Bill Clinton over the years. And of course he’s old enough now not to have to worry about losing friends in the party for crossing the aisle. He’s been out of politics long enough that he wouldn’t move many votes, but I think he’s a net gain to Hillary if he backs her, especially once the Democratic messaging machine gets to work on his war heroism and his status on the left as the last reasonable somewhat-good Republican. The other Republican who might help Clinton, albeit with far more downside than Bush 41, is Condi Rice. Rice bears the scarlet “I” of Iraq, which probably makes her too hot to handle for Democrats for the same reason that Dubya is, but Rice is also seen, I think, as the least hawkish/most diplomatic member of Bush 43’s inner circle and has even more extensive foreign-policy credentials than Hillary does. Her endorsement would be aimed squarely at the demographic Clinton’s trying to wrest from Trump this fall, the white moderate suburban college grads who have been voting GOP for 60 years but are tilting Democratic this year because they’re nervous about Trump. Rice’s support would signal to them that Hillary is the choice for educated, low-key, non-populist Republicans and it would reinforce the idea, however implicitly, that even minority members of his own party don’t trust Trump enough to support him. Rice also doesn’t seem to be eyeing a future in Republican electoral politics so she’d have little to lose by backing the Democrat. I don’t know if Hillary would ask her because of her war baggage or if Rice would do it if she did, but that’s an interesting possibility this fall.
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