Don Fowler was the head of the DNC in the middle of Bill Clinton’s presidency, from 1995 to 1997, and had been around the DNC long enough to remember when Thomas Eagleton was replaced as George McGovern’s running mate way back in ‘72. He knows a thing or two about electoral politics, and in an interview with Politico, he didn’t mince words about the need for a plan B in case Hillary Clinton’s health issues knocked her out of the race:
“It’s something you would be a fool not to prepare for.”
Yesterday, we examined exactly how the DNC would go about replacing Clinton should the need arise, and the timeline for implementing a new candidate successfully (the short version is that late September is probably fine, while early October is not). Fowler, understanding the urgency, told Politico that “the plan should be developed by 6 o’clock this afternoon,” and said that choosing a new candidate could be far more complicated than the Sargent Shriver-for-Eagleton trade he witnessed in ‘72:
“This is a different time, with a lot more people who like to express themselves and perhaps wrest control,” he said. “I’m sure some of the Sanders people would want to get into play and some of the Biden people. I think you’re likely to have at least discussions and perhaps controversy.”
Fowler clarified that he thought Clinton would return to the campaign trail in full health soon, but that she needs to get fully well or risk a relapse. He also stressed the need for a modernization of the DNC’s rules for replacing a national candidate, saying, “I think unanimity would be absolutely critical…the quicker that unanimity develops, the easier and better the process.”
Clinton has said she’ll be resting for the first part of this week to recover from pneumonia, and returning to the campaign trail before the weekend.