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Jewish World Review Dec. 12, 2003 / 17 Kislev, 5764

Betsy Hart

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Consumer Reports

Watch for Dean-Clinton in '04 | Get ready for Hillary in the 2004 presidential sweepstakes.

No, I don't mean Senator Clinton will be running at the top of the ticket next year. I mean she'll be running for vice-president.

Before anyone counters that Hillary's enormous ego would never allow for a "number two," remember that she has two things even bigger than her ego - ambition and desire for power.

Here's how it's going to work: It now looks like former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean will scoop up the Democratic presidential nomination. The surprise endorsement by former Vice President Al Gore gave Dean the patina of establishment backing, while leaving Dean what he is - leftist, yes, but more than that the "angry" candidate. Dean is furious that George Bush won the 2000 election - he thinks it was stolen - and he's appealing to all the Bush-haters out there who feel the same way.

Including, apparently, Al Gore.

Ah, but when was the last time the "angry" candidate won the White House? It doesn't happen. Carter, Reagan, Clinton were all pretty jolly fellows, whatever their politics. Nixon might have been a bit grumpy at times, but he wasn't "angry." This is problem "one" for Dean. Here's problem "two." Hillary Clinton wants him to lose.

Because if Dean wins, she can't run in 2008 (since he would run for re-election). She'd be shut out of the presidential sweepstakes until 2012, and who knows what the political landscape will be then?

I'm not reading Hillary's mind. She's spelled it out. Virtually every elected Democrat in the country is publicly saying, whether he believes it or not, "I'm excited because we have a great chance of retaking the White House in 2004, every day things are moving more our way, blah blah blah." Here's what Senator Clinton told George Stephanopoulos last Sunday on ABC's "This Week," "...Look, I'm going to support the (Democrat presidential) nominee. And I think we've got at least a 50/50, if not slightly better, chance of winning."

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Fifty/fifty? Whoopee. Talk about death by a thousand cuts.

Get ready for Hillary and Bill Clinton to suck the air out of the room and do everything in their power to keep Dean out of the White House in 2004. Unless ... she's on the ticket.

Anyway, just this week Hillary said she wouldn't "speculate" on whether she would accept a vice-presidential nod. That seals it.

For all I know, Dean may not be able to stand Hillary, but who cares?

He wants to win. And long gone are the days when a ticket had to be "balanced" geographically. (Remember, both Bill Clinton and Al Gore were from the South.) What does matter is that while Hillary Clinton won't get rid of Dean's "anger" problem, she'll distract people from it. She'll bring in excitement, glamour and loads of bucks.

And talk about motivating your base.

There are fewer and fewer "undecided" voters in national elections anymore. More than ever the issue isn't winning over new voters, it's getting your voters to vote. Democrats know how much Republicans can't stand the thought of Hillary back in the White House - that's reason enough for the Democrats to get to the polls.

Such reasoning will be irresistible to Dean.

And what about Hillary? For starters, she doesn't have to give up her Senate seat to run. (She's not up for re-election in New York until 2006.) Of course if "Dean-Clinton" prevails, she's back in the White House. It may kill her to be in the "number two" slot there, though it would be the most powerful "number two" slot ever held, but it guarantees her the Democratic presidential nomination in 2012, and in the meantime she's only a heartbeat away from the presidency itself.

Yes, this does pose the "waiting 'til 2012" problem, but because it seals her chance to run then, in this case the wait is well worth it.

More likely though, the Dean-Clinton ticket would still lose. (George Bush remains a major problem for both of them.) But don't worry about Hillary getting blamed for the loss. That would never happen. The same knives which so exquisitely cut to pieces the women her husband had affairs with, groped (or worse), would be employed to destroy the Dean campaign operatives so that Hillary is left smelling like a rose.

And then what? Hillary becomes the national party leader for four years, and she's handed the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.

"Dean-Clinton 2004." It's going to be an interesting race after all.

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JWR contributor Betsy Hart, a frequent commentator on CNN and the Fox News Channel, can be reached by clicking here.


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