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Presidential Candidates: A Thumbnail Analysis

Following is a basic breakdown of Democratic presidential candidates, with a synopsis of their strengths and weaknesses as well as analysis of what I consider to be their chances of winning the nomination and subsequently, the presidency.

Here goes:

Joe Biden

Strengths: Extensive experience as a member of Congress and eight years as Vice President to President Obama. Biden also uses family values and a personal appeal and charisma to his advantage. Even before he entered the race, he was, and continues to be, the front-runner.

Weaknesses: His past voting records will haunt him. Also, the idea of electing “just another old white guy” who is out of touch with many younger voters is a deficit. Biden’s flip-flops on past issues questions his consistency.

Analysis: Biden is a self-described “human gaffe machine”. His performance in the first debate demonstrated his weakness as a debater and can be used to his disadvantage if he wins the nomination. For some moderate Democrats, he is considered to be a safe bet, plus, he is the candidate Trump fears running against the most. Therefore, he currently has the best numbers in winning the election.

Pete Buttigieg

Strengths: “Mayor Pete” has a tremendous likability factor, is great in interviews and is an excellent public speaker. He is a war veteran and proudly touts the sacrifice of veterans and supports their better treatment. He is open about his sexuality and wears it as a badge of honor, much like the uniform he once wore, which means he would likely reverse the Trump transsexual ban in the military.

Weaknesses: Of recent concern is Mayor Pete being distracted by his “day job” and the racial tensions his city faces. Also, his lack of experience and his age can be used against him. Some “old school” Democrats might also be unwilling to support an openly gay candidate.

Analysis: While he personally has the charisma to be a viable candidate, his inexperience and youth could negatives, even though Trump himself having zero experience when he was “elected”. The distractions of his “day job” could be used as an asset as he can point out that while several of his opponents are “taking time off” from their elected duties, he continues to address his own responsibilities.

Kamala Harris

Strengths: Her experience as a prosecutor and Congresswoman, strong verbal skills and overall confidence are tremendous assets. Her debate skills demonstrated that she can stand toe-to-toe with the best of them. She has embraced many of the ideas of fellow candidate, Bernie Sanders, and therefore represents a viable option, which should help her greatly.

Weaknesses: Harris needs to make her views on the issues stronger. Her flip-flop on healthcare for immigrants was a major stumble. There is also the renewed effort by the far right to resurrect the “birther issue” in regard to her identity as a true African-American. However, she should have strong support from the African American community.

Analysis: Harris represents everything Trump and his base fear. She’s a strong woman with an impressive resume’ and outstanding verbal skills. Should she win the nomination, she will be a formidable opponent and her debate skills could well throw Trump off his game. She has generated greatly improved numbers, which show her ahead of Trump in a head-to-head race.

Amy Klobuchar

Strengths: Klobuchar is an experienced Congresswoman who has been a “rising star” in the Democratic Party since her election in 2006. Her campaign announcement in a snowstorm showed off her tough Midwestern attitude in a decidedly Republican dominated area.

Weaknesses: Were it any other year, Klobuchar would have been a stand-out candidate, however, given the large field, her message is getting lost.

Analysis: She faces far too many obstacles to be a viable candidate, name recognition and a clear message among them. She is a long shot to win the nomination.

Beto O’Rourke:

Strengths: O’Rourke made a splash on the national stage with his near upset of Ted Cruz. He used this popularity to become an early fund-raising juggernaut. He has charisma and is an excellent “off the cuff” speaker. He also has some Congressional experience as a representative.

Weaknesses: While he emerged as a viable option when he announced his candidacy, his star power has quickly faded. Verbal gaffes and his performance during the first debate have likely doomed his chances.

Analysis: Better luck next time. I mean, he couldn’t even beat Ted Cruz, who has been called “the least liked person in Congress”. That’s something when that group includes Mitch McConnell.

Bernie Sanders*:

Strengths: Sanders still enjoys tremendous popularity based upon his stance in the 2016 election. He has moved the Democratic Party more to the left towards universal healthcare, free college for all and student loan forgiveness. This has earned him a groundswell of support among younger voters.

Weaknesses: Sanders’ message hasn’t changed. His inability to evolve beyond the same “Wall St.” message has failed to increase his support.

Analysis: I put an asterisk next to Sanders’ name because he is a convenient Democrat. Despite his record of voting with Democrats most of the time, Sanders identifies as a Socialist. This label makes him an easy target for ridicule by Trump, and this would certainly be used as a means to oppose Sanders in a national election.

Elizabeth Warren

Strengths: Warren has an impressive resume’ of Congressional accomplishments. She is a dynamic speaker and apparently has “a plan” for everything, making her the most prepared to take on the mantle of leadership.

Weaknesses: Warren’s questionable use of her Native American heritage is a definite deficit. Trump and his supporters mocked her even before she hit the campaign trail. Her decision to release her DNA results (when Trump won’t even release his tax returns) could come back to haunt her.

Analysis: While Warren emerged as the strongest candidate in the first night of Democratic debates, she was facing a decidedly weaker field. She will need to step up her game if she hopes to win the nomination when she faces the stronger can didates. Her current numbers show her beating Trump in a head-to-head race.

And the Rest:

Strengths: Some of them garnered enough support to gain a place on the stage during the first debate.

Weaknesses: Too many people in a free-for-all to get any recognition. They are lost in a field of more viable candidates.

Analysis: Barring a miracle, none of them stands a chance of winning the nomination, much less the election. Of the field, Kirsten Gillibrand, Julian Castro and Jay Inslee are the only recognizable names while the others are only known by their local constituents or their business contacts. The best they could hope for is a possible Vice Presidental selection.

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