Elections come down to one simple factor: turnout. Whether you’re running for county commissioner or President of the United States, if you can motivate your side to show up in force on Election Day, chances are your side wins.
The flip side of this is understanding what motivates and energizes your opponents base and ensuring that nothing you do as a candidate or campaign unnecessarily pushes them to vote. Let me be clear: Picking Susan Rice for VP absolutely turns out Trump voters in November and simply considering her proves Democrats learned nothing from 2016.
Very rarely can a single word elicit anger and outrage from a political base, galvanizing them to show up on Election Day.
Eight years later, “Benghazi” is still one of those words.
Every single Republican vividly remembers the Benghazi attacks on September 11, 2012, that resulted in the deaths of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. Following the attacks, Susan Rice ran with a Clinton-backed talking point stating the attacks were a result of “spontaneous protests to an anti-Muslim video” which was later revealed to be inaccurate.
Republican voters perceived all of this as deeply political, happening just before the 2012 election and, worst of all, had Hillary Clinton, acting Secretary of State, at the center of it.
Republican hatred of Hillary Clinton, something Democrats should be keenly aware of, already helped get Trump elected once. Now, Democrats want to place the person in the middle of Clinton’s biggest scandal on the 2020 ticket behind a barely coherent Joe Biden? Even Barack Obama passed on nominating Rice as Secretary of State after Benghazi.
This is madness but is only explainable because Democrats still think Hillary Clinton lost 2016 because of the electoral college or because America is sexist but not because she is a deeply unlikeable candidate with substantial baggage who ignored mid-west voters.
Kamala Harris, another strong contender for VP, is no friend of Republicans, but does not generate a fraction of the hatred Rice does, simply because Republicans cannot point to a remotely equivalent scandal. Harris is arguably to the left of Rice but does not have a “Benghazi” that Republican voters could galvanize behind.
A Biden/Rice ticket would drastically change the race and provides a President with a floundering economy in a publicly perceived botched health crisis a unifying message and a path to reelection.
2016 is considered one of the greatest upset in political history with plenty of lessons for both Democrats and Republicans. Simply considering Susan Rice for VP proves that Democrats have learned nothing and are poised to make the same mistakes again.
The attack ads write themself.