Following US presidential politics is a favorite Canadian pastime, and the2016 campaign will be no exception. While the Canadian opinion is ultimately inconsequential, as we will continue to be a key ally, friend and economic partner to the USA, no matter who wins the presidential election, I can already predict that an overwhelming majority of Canadians hope Hillary Clinton will be the next President.
Despite fluctuating relationships between United States Presidents and Canadian Prime Ministers, our countries have more in common—given our shared geography, economics and politics—than any other allies on the planet.
The 2016 race is on, and from the outset I believed a Clinton-Bush rerun likely to occur. This being said, both Hillary and Jeb Bush have stumbled of late, leading observers to question whether inevitability will carry the day. Hillary is still dogged by the email controversy, and her responses to and management of the issue seem slow and erratic. It looks like old politics—a throwback to the 1990s type of spin and verbal platitudes.
At the same time, Jeb Bush’s responses on Iraq were quite simply pathetic in style and content, considering the predictability of the questions. The advantages of name recognition and establishment connections seemed, as with Clinton, also out of the 1990s. Bush is no longer the one to beat, there are newer faces emerging. For example, Florida’s Marco Rubio, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul appear fresher. Look for a new player who could upset the prohibitive favorites such as Ohio Governor John Kasich, whose strategic state will guarantee him a close look for the top spot or that of Vice President.
The Democrats have some serious considerations in the months ahead as there is no real alternative to Hillary, should she falter. Bernie Sanders, the independent Senator from Vermont, is a feel- good candidate with zero chance of winning. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has limited appeal beyond her left wing base in the Democratic Party. Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley can win, but only if Hillary withdraws.
In addition, Congress is the now a Republican playground for questioning Obama policies and investigating Clinton’s record and/or behavior. And like it or not, Hillary will be portrayed as a ‘third term presidential candidate’ to Bill Clinton or Barack Obama.
Despite these challenges, Clinton still enjoys public favor when matched against GOP frontrunners. Her competence, resilience and determination make her a strong and highly competent candidate. Besides, the Republican candidates appear mean spirited in their obsession with her. With the possible exception of Rand Paul, no GOP candidate is enlarging the party base or presenting compelling new ideas. These politicians, like Clinton, should also expect greater scrutiny in the months ahead.
All this to say that the race will likely carry some unforeseen surprises as we near the primary season. Expect a closer race on the Republican side with Jeb Bush becoming far more vulnerable. Hillary remains at this moment the most impressive and most qualified candidate in both parties. However, this could change by primary season next January. In the meantime, we Canadians will continue to enjoy our front- seat spectator status.