Governors' Advice for Their Peers Who May Run for President

The White House is 600 miles away — and the election to occupy it more than two years out — but presidential intrigue was as prevalent here this weekend as barbecue and Tennessee twang.
July 14, 2014 AT 11:50 AM

The White House is 600 miles away — and the election to occupy it more than two years out — but presidential intrigue was as prevalent here this weekend as barbecue and Tennessee twang.

Several potential 2016 contenders showed up at the annual summer meeting of the National Governors Association, which has long served as a stage for glad-handing and relationship-building for those who seek the presidency.

Vice President Joe Biden, who delivered a speech, and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley were the notable Democratic possibilities. On the GOP side, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker made appearances. Louisiana’s Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal, meanwhile, is set to swing through the area Sunday afternoon.

Most governors at the meeting were reticent to size up the potential 2016 field or talk about their colleagues’ ambitions. But some did offer a few friendly — and occasionally bipartisan — pointers for those who choose to run.

Here are a few:

Don’t be afraid of Hillary Clinton.

The former secretary of state is formidable but beatable, Republican governors argued. So much so, they said, that her presence in the Democratic field is unlikely to keep any GOP contenders from jumping in.

“I don’t think Hillary is going to dissuade anybody on the Republican side from running,” Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said. “She has strengths and she has weaknesses, and she has some significant weaknesses.”

Herbert argued that Clinton’s time as secretary of state would be a liability and that voters might also hesitate to put former President Bill Clinton back in the White House.

“There needs to be more substance than we just want the first woman president,” he said.

Governors also noted that the same party rarely wins three presidential elections in a row, and some wondered whether Hillary Clinton would ultimately decide against putting her family through another campaign.

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