Las primarias demócratas de 1992 nos sirven de ejemplo sobre cómo puede evolucionar un proceso electoral tan largo por caminos imprevisibles. Al dar comienzo la carrera, los analistas lo veían como una competición por elegir al candidato al que le tocaría sufrir una humillante derrota ante el Presidente republicano George Bush, aún disfrutando de las mieles del éxito en los desiertos de Kuwait.
Después del inesperado fracaso que supuso para los demócratas la elección de 1988, pocos pesos pesados dentro del partido se decidieron a prestarse a una nueva humillación en 1992, cuando todas las circunstancias parecían alinearse en favor del Presidente en funciones. Esto provocó el salto al ruedo de figuras menos importantes que no tenían nada que perder.
Se presentaron hasta 10 precandidatos demócratas: el Alcalde Larry Agran, de Irvine, una ciudad de California; el ex Gobernador Jerry Brown, de California; el Gobernador Bill Clinton, de Arkansas; el Senador Tom Harkin, de Iowa; el Senador Bob Kerrey, de Nebraska; el actor y director de cine Tom Laughlin; el ex Senador Eugene McCarthy, de Minnesota; el ex Senador Paul Tsongas, de Massachusetts; el Gobernador Douglas Wilder, de Virginia; y Charles Woods, un hombre de negocios de Alabama.
Fuentes: Wikipedia, CNN y Union Leader.
(...) There was some media speculation in 1987 that Clinton would enter the race for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination after then-New York Governor Mario Cuomo declined to run and Democratic front-runner Gary Hart bowed out due to revelations about marital infidelity. Often referred to as the "Boy Governor" at the time because of his youthful appearance, Clinton decided to remain as Arkansas Governor and postpone his presidential ambitions until 1992. Presenting himself as a moderate and a member of the New Democrat wing of the Democratic Party, he headed the moderate Democratic Leadership Council in 1990 and 1991.
In 1991, President Bush had high popularity ratings in the wake of the Gulf War. Many well-known Democrats, including House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt of Missouri, Governor Mario Cuomo of New York or Senators Al Gore of Tennessee and Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia considered the race unwinnable and did not run for the nomination. Those that did run included several less-well-known candidates.
Governor Clinton began his 1992 presidential quest on a sour note by finishing near the back of the pack in the Iowa caucus, which was largely uncontested due to the presence of favorite-son Senator Tom Harkin, who was the easy winner. Clinton’s real trouble began during New Hampshire Primary campaign, when revelations of a possible extramarital affair with Gennifer Flowers began to surface. Clinton and his wife Hillary decided to go on 60 Minutes following the Super Bowl to rebut those charges of infidelity.
The "Gennifer Flowers" story gave birth to a serious campaign problem called the "character issue," which caused Clinton to plummet in the polls. At one point, he trailed senator Paul Tsongas by 20 points in New Hampshire. But Clinton barnstormed New Hampshire in the last weeks before the February 18 primary, and ended up in second place behind Tsongas, 33 percent to 25 percent. On Primary night, Clinton's camp convinced many in the national news media that his 24.7 percent showing that day was a moral victory and a major comeback. Clinton was upbeat, calling himself "The Comeback Kid".
En la imagen: Paul Tsongas celebra su victoria en New Hampshire, 18 de febrero, 1992.
After finishing second to Paul Tsongas in the New Hampshire primary February 18, Clinton headed to his native South to begin his comeback. He scored his first primary win in Georgia on March 3, and picked up South Carolina on March 7. Bob Kerrey dropped out of the race on March 5, Tom Harkin on March 9. Clinton then swept five southern states on "Super Tuesday," March 10. His biggest wins were in Florida, where he attacked Tsongas for not ruling out limits on Social Security, and Texas .
With Senators Harkin and Kerrey out of the race, the campaign became a contest between Paul Tsongas, Jerry Brown, and Bill Clinton. Clinton used his new-found momentum to storm through the Southern primaries and build up a sizable delegate lead over his opponents in the race. This forced Paul Tsongas out of the race on March 19. Jerry Brown, however, began to run a surprising insurgent campaign, particularly through use of a 1-800 number to receive grassroots funding. There were still some doubts as to whether Clinton could secure the nomination, as former California Governor Jerry Brown was scoring victories in other parts of the country and Clinton had yet to win a significant contest outside of his native South. Brown scored surprising wins in Connecticut and Colorado and seemed poise to overtake Clinton .
En la imagen: Jerry Brown haciendo campaña, 1992.
With no major Southern state remaining on the primary calendar, the showdown between Brown and Clinton came in delegate-rich New York, which held its primary April 7. The campaign was brutal. Clinton attacked Brown's proposed 13 percent flat tax as "the biggest rip-off in American politics" because, he said, it would increase taxes on the working poor and the middle class. Brown claimed Clinton was "unelectable" because of all the negative stories about his past.
Indeed, negative stories continued to surface. Black leaders had criticized Clinton for playing golf at a Little Rock country club that has no black members. Also during the New York campaign, Clinton revealed that he tried marijuana when he was a college student, but "never inhaled," a comment that drew widespread ridicule. Brown and Clinton faced off in a series of debates, including appearances (separately and together) on the Phil Donahue show. Even though polls showed Clinton ahead in New York, his advisors told Clinton the debates were necessary to go directly to the voters and around the tabloids.
On April 7, Clinton won New York primary with 40.5 percent of the vote. Clinton also won primaries in two other states (Kansas and Wisconsin) and a beauty contest in Minnesota the same day. After April 7, people began to acknowledge Clinton would be the party's nominee. The next major contest was Pennsylvania on April 28. Clinton defeated Brown 56.6 percent to 25.6 percent. The May primaries drew little interest. Clinton piled up win after win.
En la imagen: Bill Clinton, 1992.
Clinton finally clinched enough delegates to win the nomination on Tuesday, June 2. California was the largest prize on that day, and Clinton worked hard to avoid being embarrassed by a loss to Brown the same day he sewed up the nomination. Polls during the long primary season showed Brown could win in California, since it was his home state. Clinton was forced to spend the entire weekend before the primary in California, bypassing such major states as New Jersey and Ohio, which also held primaries June 2. It paid off: he won all the June 2 Democratic primaries.
The wait for the Democratic convention found Clinton lingering in third place in the national polls, behind of Bush and Perot, although he no longer was losing ground. He tried to broaden his base, reaching out to organized labor, which supported Tom Harkin's campaign, as well as black and Jewish voters.
On June 21, 1992, Clinton released a detailed economic plan called "Putting People First." Clinton's plan came out at the beginning of a week of angry fighting between the Bush and Perot campaigns, which gave Clinton a chance to talk about "issues" and appear above the Bush-Perot fray. The week before the Democratic Convention found Clinton moving up in the polls.
Many democratic politicians were mentioned as Clinton's possible running-mate,i.e. Senator Bob Kerrey (D - Nebraska), Representative Dick Gephardt (D - Missouri), Governor Mario Cuomo (D - New York), Representative Lee Hamilton (D - Indiana), Senator Harris Wofford (D - Pennsylvania), or Senator Bob Graham (D - Florida).
Clinton chose young U.S. Senator Al Gore Jr. (D-Tennessee) to be his running mate. Choosing Gore, who is from Clinton's neighboring state of Tennessee, went against the popular strategy of balancing a Southern candidate with a Northern partner. Gore did serve to balance the ticket in other ways, as he was perceived as strong on family values and environmental issues, while Clinton was not. Also, Gore's similarities to Clinton allowed him to really push some of his key campaign themes, such as centrism and generational change.
The Convention week was a resounding success for the Democrats. The Convention was essentially a solidification of the party around Clinton and Gore, though there was controversy over whether Jerry Brown would be allowed to speak. Brown did indeed speak and ultimately endorsed the Clinton campaign. The last day of the Convention (July 16), a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll showed Clinton had overtaken President Bush, 56 percent to 33 percent. (...)
Video del discurso completo de Bill Clinton en la Convención Demócrata de 1992 (Real Player).
En la imagen: Bill Clinton y Al Gore en la Convención Demócrata de 1992, en Nueva York.