The McAuliffe Middle

The last time I tuned in to former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe’s (D) presidential audition, he was taking swings at President Trump for the partial government shutdown and throwing sharp elbows at progressive presidential contenders for making fiscally reckless promises.

McAuliffe hasn’t changed his delivery. He reiterated it in his keynote address at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics American Democracy Conference last week.

Points for consistency, then. McAuliffe is trying to establish himself as the (potential) adult candidate in the race — neither too edgy nor too dull.

The rest of the field isn’t following his lead. If anything, the Democratic contenders (so far) are crowding the progressive lanes. For possible candidate McAuliffe, this is a good thing.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has trotted out a wealth tax to tackle inequality and help fund her agenda. Not exactly a bad pitch to make for the Iowa caucuses. But as Walter Mondale can attest, it’s not a winning idea in general elections.

The last time I tuned in to former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe’s (D) presidential audition, he was taking swings at President Trump for the partial government shutdown and throwing sharp elbows at progressive presidential contenders for making fiscally reckless promises.

McAuliffe hasn’t changed his delivery. He reiterated it in his keynote address at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics American Democracy Conference last week.

Points for consistency, then. McAuliffe is trying to establish himself as the (potential) adult candidate in the race — neither too edgy nor too dull.

The rest of the field isn’t following his lead. If anything, the Democratic contenders (so far) are crowding the progressive lanes. For possible candidate McAuliffe, this is a good thing.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has trotted out a wealth tax to tackle inequality and help fund her agenda. Not exactly a bad pitch to make for the Iowa caucuses. But as Walter Mondale can attest, it’s not a winning idea in general elections.

But even soaking the rich comes across as thin soup compared to Sen. Kamala D. Harris’s (D-Calif.) platform. According to The Post’s Colby Itkowitz, Harris very quickly established the litmus tests for the party’s presidential candidates: Universal health care. A Green New Deal. An assault-weapons ban.

These are the progressive issues that most Democrats running for president in 2020 will not only unapologetically endorse but also be expected to support if they have any chance of winning the Democratic primary.

Eh, maybe. Harris still has a lot of work to do on basic things, including building name recognition. And the other contenders for the title of progressive litmus maker — including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — have yet to make their formal announcements.

But there is one clear trend among Democratic presidential contenders: There’s no such thing as promising too much — at least if one’s entire presidential strategy is based on the twin pillars of resistance to the president and an aggressive progressive agenda.

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