A Michelle Obama presidential candidacy would be a good idea for Democrats for many reasons. There are also a few reasons it would be a bad idea.
There is a desire among Democrats to dump both President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris off the ticket for 2024. I previously wrote that the Democrats could try an open and contested convention to get a fresh face. But they might be angling for a not-so-fresh face.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, notably predicted that Democrats would turn to the former first lady to cure their 2024 woes. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, made the same prediction.
What do either know about Democratic politics? Not a lot.
But plenty of Democrats are reportedly hoping to see another Obama campaign. Meanwhile, the would-be first gentleman Barack Obama was tight-lipped about the matter when asked by reporters about a Michelle 2024 campaign.
That’s often called a non-denial denial among media types. Or maybe he just ignored the question.
Either way, it might be a longshot.
But let’s face it. She would be much better than other Biden-Harris alternatives.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom gets the most mentions. He has nice hair and survived a recall election. But really, no one wants America to become California. Also-rans like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., didn’t ignite any excitement before. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is too old to make a third attempt.
Barack Obama wasn’t a great president. But even though Joe Biden served as his vice president for eight years, the two are not closely associated. Remember, Biden advised Obama against the most popular move of his presidency, the strike that killed Osama bin Laden.
Obama was also highly likable compared to Donald Trump or Joe Biden. Michelle was a likable first lady as well. In fact, Obama’s approval rating soared in 2016 just because Americans saw they were going to end up with either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, and suddenly Barack seemed even more likable.
Michelle proved a good campaigner and gave a thunderous speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention that left Democrats wishing she would run for something.
An open, contested Democratic National Convention would be a positive on many fronts for the party. First, it would allow Democrats to dodge making Kamala Harris the heir apparent in a scenario where Joe Biden voluntarily steps aside. It also would provide a four-night ratings bonanza for Democrats, as massive media attention would focus on the contest. It would be the only thing Democrats could use to distract attention from Trump.
On the other hand, Democrats might tear each other apart in a contested convention and have trouble uniting afterwards.
If there is an open convention, Michelle Obama could be the one candidate that would unite the party, and discourage quite a few from even running. She’s likely the only candidate who could win on the first ballot.
That said, there are plenty of reasons she shouldn’t run.
First, she has no real experience, other than being the first lady.
Second, there is a financial consideration.
Who knows what else awaits?
All those millions the Clintons were raking in didn’t deter Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambitions. But it doesn’t seem Michelle is driven to be president the way Hillary was.
Another downside is that Michelle could be a bigger target if she is a candidate. Her background might make her far less likable.
Rumor in 2008 was that she was much more into the wacky sermons of Rev. Jeremiah Wright than Barack was. Maybe it’s the norm that husbands are more lax about church, while wives take it more seriously. But in this case, that wouldn’t be such a good thing.
She also said the first time she was proud of her country was when her husband was running for president, which also seemed odd.
She’s not without baggage. But she has a lot less than Trump. Also, most of the American public already viewed Hillary Clinton as corrupt in 2016. “Crooked Hillary” resonated. Trump’s political punches wouldn’t likely stick to Michelle Obama.
It’s no guarantee, and Trump can pull off another political miracle. Ultimately, though, Michelle Obama would be more likely to beat Trump in a general election than Biden, Harris, or Newsom. That’s what Democrats care about.
Barbara Joanna Lucas is a writer and researcher in Northern Virginia. She has been a healthcare professional, political blogger, is a proud dog mom, and news junkie. Follow her on Twitter @BasiaJL. She is an opinion writer for this publication.
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