Forget New Hampshire for now. Here's the overriding question for Democrats in the primary season: Is there one among them who can kick George Bush out of the White House while he's down?Los Angeles Times (5 de abril de 1992):
That question is the spark for a current of dissatisfaction and doubt surging through the party about its current candidates.
''Right now, there's kind of a theme in search of a candidate,'' said Brian Lunde, a Washington-based political strategist. ''The theme is having an electable candidate who can beat George Bush.''
Party leaders, analysts and consultants are uncertain whether there is a Bush-beater among the five major Democratic candidates.
There's doubt whether former Sen. Paul Tsongas of Massachusetts has appeal outside the Northeast and concern whether Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton can regain the momentum he had before of rumors of infidelity and reports that he manipulated the draft to avoid combat during the Vietnam war.
All of that is fueling write-in campaigns and talk of possible late-entry candidates.
The congressional names most often dropped are Sen. Al Gore of Tennessee, Sen. Lloyd Bentsen of Texas and Missouri Rep. Richard Gephardt. Also being touted are West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell of Maine.
In the search for a Democratic heavyweight, there's talk of drafting Jesse Jackson, and there is continued interest in New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, despite a disappointing 4-percent write-in showing in New Hampshire.
The problem with that group, analysts say, is that they're either untested or unproven.
''It's not obvious to me that a Tsongas or Clinton campaign in the fall would fare any worse than a Gore or Bentsen campaign,'' said political analyst Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institute. ''Let's not lionize them. Bentsen ran and lost. Gephardt ran and lost. Gore ran and lost. Cuomo hasn't run. And who is Jay Rockefeller?''
(...) None of those mentioned have announced they're thinking of joining the field, but there is strong activity building behind Gephardt.
In Michigan, supporters are examining the possibility of a Gephardt write-in candidacy for the March 17 primary. And in Missouri, legislators are drafting a bill that would allow the congressman to retain his seat under state law while running for president.
The odds on a write-in candidate or late entry winning the nomination are slim, but it's not impossible. For one, filing deadlines have passed for states that would send 60 percent of the convention delegates to New York City next June. And any late entry would face major obstacles raising the money and putting in place the organization necessary to launch a successful drive to the White House.
Some Democrats feel a late entry could be disastrous and divisive. Still, if the primaries prove inconclusive, the nomination could come as a result of bartering on the convention floor. That is what Phil Krone, the initiator of the draft-Cuomo movement, is banking on.
''I don't have anything against the people running,'' Chicagoan Krone said. ''I just don't think they're strong enough to beat Bush.''
If any of the current candidates fail to gain a majority of delegates in the first round of balloting, then those delegates pledged to them are free to vote for whom they choose in subsequent rounds.
There's a feeling ''somewhere between disaster and apprehension'' that none of the declared candidates is a winner, said Chicago consultant Rose. ''I don't think any of these guys turn on a large enough constituency, although they each have strong followings.''
If Bill Clinton's showing in the New York primary deepens doubts about his electability, will there be a brokered convention?
James MacGregor Burns, scholar at the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, Richmond University, and emeritus professor of political science, Williams College:
My guess is that if Jerry Brown does well in New York, then they'll be the old swing of the pendulum--cut down the front-runner.
If there's a really sweeping Brown victory, which is presumably possible, I think that would make a brokered convention very, very likely.
Mario M. Cuomo would be the likely player. There's a lot of feeling in this country for Cuomo. He has the best chance in a brokered convention. After all, the convention is in New York, he is presumably giving a keynote speech as governor--all that has to be figured in.
Speaking as a frequent former delegate to conventions--a convention has its own psychology, its own politics, knows its own mind, and it can put the rules aside.
(...) Barbara Kellerman, adjunct professor of political science, George Washington University:
If Clinton loses New York or his victory margin is embarrassingly meager, the chances of a brokered convention increase. I don't think anyone wants a brokered convention, least of all the professional Democratic pols who are trembling in their boots that this will happen. If it does, I do not look for a long shot like Cuomo. They probably would turn to Lloyd Bentsen, Al Gore, Richard A. Gephardt and so forth, who, however, would have their own set of liabilities in a year in which being the consummate insider is hardly the winning ticket.
(...) Rogers Smith, professor of political science, Yale University:
I think there's a very real chance there will be a brokered convention if Clinton suffers a setback in New York, particularly if it's compounded by the Wisconsin primary. The super delegates will perceive him as a very high-risk candidate. There will be efforts to get a prominent Democrat to enter. Candidates include Cuomo, Bentsen and Sam Nunn. Any such candidate will face the serious liability that he or she will not have been tested in the primaries. It's not all certain that such a candidate could actually prevail--even in a brokered convention--over Clinton, who will come in with a large number of committed delegates.
The super delegates, I think, will be talking among themselves in traditional, smoke-filled room fashion, trying to decide whether they can agree on one alternative candidate. Clearly, if three or four people throw their hats in the ring at the last minute, that will only sow confusion and Clinton would undoubtedly prevail. The only way that someone could take it away from Clinton is if there were a lot of unified support for that candidate from the Democratic Party leaders who are the super delegates.
Unfortunately for the Democrats, the most likely scenario at this point is that whoever gets nominated will be someone who is not perceived as having a lot of electoral momentum, and some parts of the party will be significantly dissatisfied with the candidate.
(...) Robert Dallek, professor of history, UCLA:
What makes the question of a brokered convention so difficult to answer is that the old lines of authority and power in the Democratic Party have been shattered. You don't have the kind of situation you used to have, when you had bosses, people who had a kind of influence that counted for a great deal. So what does a brokered convention mean? Who are going to be the brokers? Thomas S. Foley? Gephardt? Nunn? Bill Bradley? Gore? These are not men who control the party the way an LBJ or an FDR did.