Is Meghan Markle's Rise Part of the Clintons' Plan to Outsmart Team Obama as Biden Loses Grip?
© AP Photo / Frank AugsteinIn this Jan. 7, 2020, file photo, Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex leave after visiting Canada House in London, after their recent stay in Canada
© AP Photo / Frank Augstein
Meghan Markle’s 2024 US election odds have been boosted by a new Democracy Institute poll showing that the Duchess of Sussex is one of the preferred candidates. The poll's results reflect a complicated political game within the Democratic Party, involving the Bidens, the Obamas, and the Clintons, according to the Democracy Institute's director.
President Joe Biden and the Democrats are facing a dismal political situation ahead of the 2022 midterms, according to a series of surveys conducted exclusively for the British newspaper Daily Express by the Democracy Institute, a Washington- and London-based, politically independent research organisation. According to Patrick Basham, founding director of the Democracy Institute, the Dems are now divided over who should succeed Biden to prevent a GOP candidate from coming out on top in 2024.
Sputnik: A new poll by the Democracy Institute found that US respondents put Meghan Markle second behind Michelle Obama, but ahead of Vice President Kamala Harris and Hilary Clinton. Does that mean Meghan Markle really has a chance of winning if she throws her hat into the ring in 2024?
Patrick Basham: Should Joe Biden not seek renomination in 2024 as the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, our polling finds that Meghan Markle would have a decent chance of securing the party’s nomination. Although Michelle Obama is the preferred female candidate among Democratic voters, she does not enjoy politics and I do not expect her to seek the presidency.
The party’s respective far-left progressive and centre-left wings, along with the respective Obama and Clinton power bases, are divided over who should succeed Biden. As a result, there is a base of support for Hillary Clinton, Kamala Harris, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as presidential nominees, but none of them have high levels of support. Therefore, Markle could present herself as the new, modern, bi-racial face of the Democratic Party, one that is untainted by previous political compromises, legislative battles, and controversial votes. While she would not be most Democrats' first choice, she could win if most Democrats viewed her as their favoured second-choice.
Sputnik: There have been reports that the Duchess of Sussex would like to run in the 2024 presidential election. Harry and Meghan have reportedly hired a PR guru who helped re-elect Barack Obama in 2012 "to transform their image". Prior to this, Markle hired former Hillary Clinton campaign aides. Does this confirm Markle's own political ambitions, in your opinion?
Patrick Basham: Meghan Markle is clearly an ambitious person and is clearly interested in holding political office. Both the advisers she has hired and the work this political advisory team has done exploring the possibility of a presidential campaign confirm that her initial interest, at least, is serious.
She is probably now at the stage, which will last at least until the midterm elections this November, during which she must divine the answers to three questions: Is there sufficient potential support for her candidacy among Democratic voters? Can she raise the enormous sums of money necessary to compete in the Democratic primaries and caucuses? Is there a potential audience of Democratic voters for a non-political, celebrity candidate with high name recognition, but little of the partisan background and loyalties normally required to garner the party’s nomination?
© AFP 2022 / KENA BETANCURIn this file photo taken on February 17, 2022 Former US Secretary of State and former senator Hillary Clinton arrives for the New York Democratic Party 2022 state Nominating Convention, in New York City
In this file photo taken on February 17, 2022 Former US Secretary of State and former senator Hillary Clinton arrives for the New York Democratic Party 2022 state Nominating Convention, in New York City
Sputnik: The press earlier reported that Hillary Clinton and Meghan Markle had known each other for decades and that they have a special bond. Is it possible that Hillary is covertly promoting Meghan for the Oval Office within the Democratic Party, given that her own brand has become tarnished by the Benghazi scandal, emailgate, etc.?
Patrick Basham: Despite their longstanding relationship, I do not think that Clinton is promoting Markle for a run in 2024. Clinton harbours the hope that, over the next two years, the Democratic Party will realise that neither Biden nor Harris is electable in 2024 and will turn to her as the party’s saviour.
That said, Clinton also may view herself as Markle’s long-term political mentor. As such, she may think that, should Markle come to the political fore in the next five to ten years, Clinton can wield particular influence upon Markle, a campaign novice, and extend her political legacy in that fashion.
Sputnik: The Hill recently reported on Bill Clinton's meeting with Joe Biden at the White House. What do you think about this meeting? What issues could the two senior Democratic politicians discuss?
Patrick Basham: The meeting most likely served two purposes. First, in political terms, Clinton can counsel Biden about how best to govern when your party no longer holds power in Congress. Back in 1994, Clinton’s Democrats suffered a massive defeat to the Republicans and lost control of both the Senate and, most notably, the House of Representatives, too. Subsequently, Clinton was persuaded that his first two years were too radical, in policy terms, for American tastes. His move to the centre during 1995 and 1996 was essential to his re-election. The parallels with Biden’s presidency to date are obvious: a radical agenda that is unpopular with most voters and an impending electoral defeat for his party. But, will Biden be humbled, as Clinton was, by his party’s election loss and adjust course next year? And, will his party’s left wing let him moderate his approach?
Second, I expect Clinton would have sought to stiffen Biden’s resolve on the Ukraine crisis to ensure the conflict has a lengthy duration. Politically, Clinton has a history of intervening in Eastern Europe, most notably vis-à-vis Kosovo, during his own presidency in the 1990s.
Regarding Ukraine, specifically, the Clintons have fundraised for their organisations through leveraging Ukraine’s diplomatic, military, and economic importance. Their focus upon Ukraine epitomises the approach of America’s political establishment whose political agendas and financial interests continue to find Ukraine to be a happy hunting ground.
© AP Photo / Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionFormer President Bill Clinton speaks during the funeral service for the late Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Thursday, July 30, 2020.
Former President Bill Clinton speaks during the funeral service for the late Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Thursday, July 30, 2020.
© AP Photo / Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Sputnik: What do you think about the Clintons’ and the Obamas' recent statements and public appearances? Why did they return to the political stage ahead of the November midterms, in your opinion?
Patrick Basham: There are overlapping reasons why the Clintons and the Obamas are becoming more prominent in the run-up to the midterms. The most obvious is that the Democrats are in terrible shape approaching the election. So, many Democratic politicians are seeking the counsel and public support of the party’s elder statesmen and most popular and effective communicators. Also, the Clintons and the Obamas are battling for the ear of the Biden White House, so that they can claim the credit because they were the ones whose sage advice put the Biden presidency back on track. There is also the question of what, or rather who, comes after Biden. The Obamas were crucial to Biden’s selection of Harris and they wish to see her continue to be their voice in the Oval Office. However, the Clintons need both Biden and Harris to fail if Hillary Clinton is to be courted to be the party's next presidential nominee. It is clear, therefore, that the Democratic Party’s heavyweight internal power bases are competing over a prize that only one can claim.