The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

January 22, 2014

Geoff Caldwell, columnist: Montana Democrat could be contender in 2016

At this time before the 2008 presidential race, Beltway politicos and media had already anointed Hillary Clinton the Democrat nominee and made former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani the de facto Republican nominee.

But then Hillary’s “first woman” got sideswiped by Obama’s “first black” and Giuliani imploded before ever getting started. Oops.

Today, we have Hillary again as the anointed one and “bipartisan moderate” Chris Christie as the Republicans’ only hope.

Yet storm clouds are gathering in both the governor’s mansion in Trenton and Hillary’s compound in Chappaqua, N.Y.

On Saturday, Hoboken, New Jersey Mayor Dawn Zimmer went public with a claim that top Christie aides held Hurricane Sandy relief money hostage to her approval of a private development project favored by the governor.

On Friday, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a scathing report on the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, that stated bluntly that the attack was preventable and that Hillary’s State Department failed to heed any of the warnings in the months leading up to it.

If you’re thinking that America can do better, Brian Schweitzer, the Democratic former governor of the traditionally red state of Montana, couldn’t agree more. In fact, he may try to convince you that he is that better choice.

When asked by Real Clear Politics’ Scott Conroy about Hillary Clinton and a woman president, Schweitzer responded: “There’s a whole lot of America that looks at each other and says … ‘Isn’t there somebody other than a Bush or a Clinton who can be president in these modern times? Isn’t there hope for somebody who’s running a business or who has served overseas or comes from a different occupation to become president? Are we now in the era of royalty again?’ So I think there’s some level of frustration about that.”

Schweitzer takes the bipartisan label to a new level. But he has a record rather than rhetoric, and ironically, it’s a decidedly conservative record.

The latest study of state fiscal health by George Mason University’s Mercatus Center puts Montana at No. 9 while Christie’s New Jersey comes in dead last.

Second Amendment worries? Schweitzer signed into law Montana’s Firearms Freedom Act, exempting firearms made and kept in his state from federal intrusion.

Energy concerns? Schweitzer understands: “Ninety percent of these jackasses that are complaining about the Keystone pipeline in Washington, D.C., one year ago wouldn’t have even known where the Keystone was.”

When asked by MSNBC’s Benjy Sarlin if President Barack Obama had done a single thing that he considered a positive achievement, Schweitzer replied: “My mother, God rest her soul, told me, ‘Brian, if you can’t think of something nice to say about something, change the subject.’”

A common-sense, pro-Second Amendment, pro-energy, pro-growth, constitutionally literate, anti-Obama fiscal conservative. If Schweitzer’s not careful, he’s going to wind up at a tea party rally.

Schweitzer is not yet a candidate, but he’s sure talking like one. 

On Jan. 7, he told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” panel: “Every single year I was governor we had the largest budget surplus in the history of Montana. I cut more taxes than any governor in the history of Montana, invested more new money in education. ... If a Democrat is good with money, you can’t beat ’em.”

If Schweitzer does declare, if he does secure the nomination and if the Republicans run another McCain or Romney, then come Nov. 8, 2016, the American people will have quite the choice for president: the liberal Republican or the conservative Democrat?

Too many ifs? Obama had more.

Geoff Caldwell writes on national and international affairs. He lives in Joplin. Contact him at gc@caldwellscorner.com.

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