Newspaper article International New York Times

Jittery Democrats Ponder a White Knight ; as Clinton's Problems Persist, Some in Party Weigh Big-Name Plan B's

Newspaper article International New York Times

Jittery Democrats Ponder a White Knight ; as Clinton's Problems Persist, Some in Party Weigh Big-Name Plan B's

Article excerpt

Some Democrats have been casting about for a potential white knight to rescue their party in case Hillary Rodham Clinton's candidacy falters.

If Hillary Rodham Clinton's new apology for her private email server fails to reassure jittery supporters, it could amplify the chatter among some Democrats who have been casting about for a potential white knight to rescue the party from a beleaguered Clinton candidacy.

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator Elizabeth Warren, former Vice President Al Gore: Each has been discussed among party officials in recent weeks as an alternative to Mrs. Clinton if she does not regain her once- dominant standing in the 2016 presidential field and instead remains mired in the long-running email controversy, with its attendant investigations.

On Monday, Mr. Biden, who has spoken publicly of pondering a run, looked very much like a candidate at a Pittsburgh union gathering and Labor Day parade. Some Democrats were intrigued by word that Mr. Kerry, the 2004 Democratic nominee, had met recently in Nantucket, Mass., with David M. Rubenstein, a billionaire co-founder of the Carlyle Group -- and the sort of Washington wise man Mr. Kerry might consult if he were considering another run. (Friends say he isn't.)

It is not just Mrs. Clinton's weakness in the polls that has generated talk of other alternatives, but also the strength of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who is routinely drawing huge crowds at campaign events. That has been disconcerting to Democratic officials who believe that Mr. Sanders, a socialist, is so liberal that his presence at the top of the party's ticket in 2016 would be disastrous.

"If party leaders see a scenario next winter where Bernie Sanders has a real chance at the Democratic nomination, I think there's no question that leaders will reach out to Vice President Biden or Secretary of State Kerry or even Gore about entering the primaries," said Garnet F. Coleman, a Texas state lawmaker and Democratic national committeeman.

Even if none of those Democrats were to announce candidacies this fall, some party officials and strategists suggested that Mr. Biden could be laying the groundwork for an 11th-hour rescue mission during the winter primaries if Mrs. Clinton's campaign began to implode. Similarly, Mr. Kerry's friends say they believe he would hear out party leaders if Mr. Sanders appeared likely to capture the nomination and they implored Mr. Kerry, who would have to resign as secretary of state, to try to block him.

The interest in senior statesmen and stateswomen is partly a reflection of the thin Democratic bench after widespread losses in races for governor, Senate and other offices in 2010 and 2014, which has left the party with relatively few experienced, credible presidential contenders, let alone ones willing to take on Mrs. …

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