President Obama was recently asked who he preferred to become Democrat’s nominee in 2016, he said “he’ll probably stay on the sidelines and not campaign much… because the American people want, ‘you know, that new car smell.’” MSNBC,
“They want to drive something off the lot that doesn’t have as much mileage as me,” Obama told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.
Analytically speaking, Obama was almost certainly right. Voters hardly ever elect a president of the same party of a president who just served two terms. And the last time that happened, in 1988, voters threw out President George H.W. Bush after only one term.
But while accurate, Obama’s self-deprecating (if even passive-aggressive) joke about how Democrats are running away from him has the unfortunate consequence of highlighting perhaps the biggest weakness of his most likely Democratic successor, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Clinton has one of the longest resumes of any presidential contender in memory, which is both a strength, and a liability. As Obama himself knows from using this playbook to beat Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primary, she’s vulnerable to charges that she’s been around Washington too long and should be sidelined by a fresher face. In other words, that she doesn’t have “the new car smell” that, say, a young upstart Illinois senator had.
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