Wake up Democrats, Hillary is the only choice

Mercifully, the Iowa Caucus is over, and after a long and eventful night, both parties have plenty to think about.

It's "wake up and get real time" for the Democrat Party. The New Hampshire primary is days away and Super Tuesday is less than a month away. And while accepting the reality that Senator Bernie Sanders will have a sizeable win next week in New Hampshire, Democratic rank and file voters need to recognize that if they want to keep the White House, the only sane course of action going forward is to make sure that the party nominates the candidate who is most qualified and who has the best chance of winning in the general election.

Hillary Clinton
Jim Young | Reuters
Hillary Clinton

Winning in November is not about who can draw the biggest crowds on college campuses or who can generate buzz and excitement among Democrats in the early contests, it's about who can go the distance, who can appeal to a broad audience and who can win in November. The Democrats need to understand that whoever emerges from the cage match Republican primary – Rubio, Cruz, Bush or Trump – will be battle-tested and field-organized and, thanks to Citizens United, will have access to unlimited amounts of money. Bernie Sanders is as ill-equipped to be a viable general election candidate as Donald Trump is to be President of the United States.

If the Democrats actually nominate Bernie Sanders, it will be the equivalent of bringing "a knife to a gunfight," as Jim Malone, Sean Connery's character in "The Untouchables," famously said.

In their endorsement last week, the New York Times said Hillary Clinton is "one of the most broadly and deeply qualified presidential candidates in modern history." And only a few days earlier, famed libertarian socialist scholar Noam Chomsky - who is certainly more politically and intellectually aligned with the policies of Bernie Sanders - stated in an interview with Al Jazeera that he would vote for Hillary Clinton because Sanders "doesn't have much of a chance." And this is after Chomsky publicly endorsed Sanders!

There is a reason that 39 Democratic Senators and 155 Democratic House members have endorsed Hillary Clinton and not a single sitting Senator has endorsed Bernie Sanders. It's all about self-preservation - they want to keep the White House and they want to be re-elected.

It would be a mistake to think that the Ted Cruz victory in Iowa has dealt a fatal blow to the Trump campaign. It's more of a hiccup than a derailment for The Donald. In CNN's most recent poll, Trump has a 25 point lead over Cruz in New Hampshire. He'll get a bounce from Iowa to be sure, but Cruz won't have the evangelical base to bolster his performance in the Granite State. And Rubio will have to compete with Bush, Kasich and Christie for the establishment Republican voters. This will likely result in a lopsided victory for Trump in New Hampshire, setting up further victories for him in Nevada and South Carolina later this month where he has double-digit leads.

Grumbling and complaining by Republican Party operatives following the 2012 convention, caused party leaders to adopt new rules for the 2016 primary elections. Changes to the calendar were made so that primaries and caucuses this year are starting one month later and ending six weeks earlier. This compressed schedule means that 45 percent of the delegates will be awarded by mid-March. The result is that the field will remain crowded longer and the accelerated pace of the primaries and caucuses will help build and sustain momentum for the candidate who gains an early lead.

The crisis for the Republican establishment is that the field might not winnow fast enough for the anti-Trump to emerge before Trump gets control of a significant or perhaps a decisive number of delegates. And if Rubio is to be the anti-Trump, he now has the junior senator from Texas blocking his path. Ironically, the Republicans might soon realize that the only person running in either party who has what it will take to take out the Donald in November is Hillary Clinton.

While the Republicans continue to sort out their business, the Democrats have a clearer path forward. With O'Malley now gone completely, they have a simple choice between two candidates. Any coach who wants to win the championship game is going to put his best quarterback on the field. The Democrats have to stop flirting with stupidity and end this reckless infatuation with the Socialist Senator from Vermont. The Democrats will need their strongest combatant to face the Republican nominee in November. And there are only two choices. Choosing the quirky darling of the hard-left progressive grass-roots sub-movement of the Democratic Party would be a disastrous mistake.

Commentary by Tony Bullock, who has worked for more than 25 years in government and public affairs. He served as chief of staff to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) from 1996 to 2000. He is currently a lobbyist at Ogilvy Government Relations in Washington. Before joining Ogilvy, he served as senior adviser and director of communications to Washington, D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams. Before moving to Washington, Bullock held elected office on Eastern Long Island where he held the positions of East Hampton Town Supervisor, Town Councilman and Suffolk County Legislator. Follow him on Twitter @BullockTony.

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