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AOC, just a few years into her congressional career, has successfully leveraged social media to become Congress’s most famous member. She is the de facto face of the Democratic Party’s progressive wing.
The attention, and the prominence, have led many to suspect that AOC will run for president in 2024 if Biden did not run or maybe even challenge him somehow.
The fact that AOC has not yet endorsed Biden for 2024 – which she says is simply because Biden has not yet announced a 2024 run – has fueled speculation that AOC herself will run. While the idea seems remote, one never knows these days.
Additionally, the speculation includes measures of AOC’s electability.
Could AOC win the White House?
And what would her campaign look like?
Who would she run with for the VP slot?
Some are suggesting an unusual prospective running mate for AOC: Michelle Obama.
Will She Run?
First off, my personal feelings are that AOC will not run – and should not run.
She’s young and inexperienced.
She hasn’t really accomplished anything.
Moderates are skeptical of her professed progressive values.
Progressives are beginning to suspect that AOC has sold out to the establishment.
And conservatives absolutely loathe AOC for her antagonizing, bratty social media presence.
Further, AOC is just a junior member of the House of Representatives.
The House is not typically a direct launching point to the White House. Almost always, when a House alum ends up in the White House, they pass through the Senate first. The exception is Gerald Ford. But Ford was not elected – he was appointed to replace Vice President Spiro Agnew, who resigned suddenly.
And then Ford was appointed to replace President Richard Nixon who resigned suddenly. Oh, and Ford had served nearly a quarter century in the House before departing for the White House. AOC, by comparison, joined the lower-house in 2019.
Still, AOC is a full-blown celebrity; she could run.
A Running Mate Who Can Boost AOC’s Electability
If AOC were to run – and she were to win the Democrat Party primary somehow – she would need to bolster her ticket with credibility, with someone more universally liked.
Some are suggesting Michelle Obama could help smooth the jagged edges off of an AOC campaign.
In a limited fashion, the premise makes sense.
Obama has the establishment appeal that AOC lacks. Obama – who was a Senator’s wife (briefly) and then First Lady for eight years – has spent more time in the White House, and in Washington generally, than AOC.
Obama would likely have a more elaborate donor network.
Obama also has unfettered access, plus unequivocal support, from the DNC’s most celebrated star: her husband Barack Obama.
And let’s not forget, Michelle is a massive celebrity, with immense popularity, in her own right.
But the reasons that make Michelle Obama attractive as a running mate to a potential AOC campaign are precisely the reasons that make such a partnership implausible: Obama has more establishment appeal, more Washington experience, better fundraising abilities, unfettered access to the DNC’s most celebrated star, and her own celebrity status.
Accordingly, there’s no way Obama will submit to playing second fiddle behind AOC, a Twitter queen with three years of experience in the House. Obama, a bestselling author, Harvard Law graduate, and mother of two, is not going to hold AOC’s hand for a presidential bid.
An inverse of the relationship, in which AOC serves as Obama’s vice president, would be more appropriate. But any premise in which Michelle Obama runs for political office is dubious; Obama has been very clear: she is not interested in politics.
“Former first lady Michelle Obama said she would not run for president because she was “not interested in politics” and no longer lived a normal life, which distanced her from the experiences of everyday Americans,” Shane Croucher reported for Newsweek.
Obama also cited her celebrity, “that she can no longer “learn about the world” by blending into it anonymously” as another reason she would not run. Of course a lot of people say they’re not running for president right before they run for president – including Michelle’s husband, Barack.
Michelle Obama Has Her Own Ambitions, Which Might Not Include the White House
Yet, when Michelle Obama says she’s not interested in politics, her words carry more weight than most. For starters, she’s never been a politician; she’s never even run for elected office.
So she’s not some senator or governor, who already serves in a prominent office, saying they’re not interested in the presidency. And Obama’s political reservations are well documented – spanning nearly two decades. When Michelle Obama’s husband Barack was a rookie senator considering a presidential run, the biggest hurdle wasn’t funding, marketing, or messaging but Michelle herself. Michelle had deep reservations about a presidential bid by Barack – so much so that Barack almost withdrew from the 2008 contest.
That Michelle would now jump into politics, for the first time, herself is certainly possible – but unlikely.
That Michelle would enter the fray to serve as AOC’s running mate is beyond unlikely – nearly unfathomable.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. He lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken. Follow him on Twitter @harrison_kass.