A Republican’s Take On Brian Schweitzer

Brandon Howell Contributor, Georgia Tipsheet
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Whether or not Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer’s rumored 2016 presidential run ever comes to anything, we’ve already gotten a money quote for the ages.

The oddball in attendance at Mitt Romney’s weekend confab of donors and prospective 2016-ers, he teased his address to the group by stating it would stand alone as the one with “bullshit in the speech and cow shit in the boots.

To say that Schweitzer is an interesting character, and that the idea of his mounting a longshot bid for the White House is intriguing, is an understatement.

He packs a penchant for blunt, off the cuff remarks that rival that of Joe Biden. Speaking of, he likes branding President Barack Obama a “corporatist” and frequently says Obamacare doesn’t go leftwards enough.

He’s needled Clinton over her Iraq vote and for instigating the greatest shakedown of “money on Wall Street” since Wilson. During his tenure as governor, he drew national attention for vetoing Republican bills he considered anti-environment on the steps of the state Capitol with a cattle brand.

Simultaneously, his time as governor includes an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association, brandishing an over and under shotgun to take aim at clay pigeons strapped with federal ID cards in an ad for his 2008 reelection race.

He’s also deemed folks opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline as “jackasses.”

(Clinton’s position on the pipeline, as of yesterday: “I can’t respond to this.”)

Schweitzer’s latest salvo is now being the lone Democrat to venture to Romney’s gathering.

All of that amounts to one of the strangest of 2016 possibilities. We’re dealing with a would-be presidential contender who holds views to the left of most of America on some issues but simultaneously is alienated from his own base on others.

Schweitzer has been successful at winning elections.

Twice he won statewide in a red state, and once before that was on the razor’s edge of victory, and his approval rating as governor in Montana never dipped below 50 percent.

Also, somewhere between “dead broke,” Keystone, and spinning every which way but loose on the calculations behind her past rejection and subsequent support of gay marriage, it’s clear that Hillary 2.0 has some rusty spots to clean up.

Not to mention the overwhelming amount of protocol accompanying a book signing. That dog won’t hunt at grip-and-grin-heavy functions in Iowa and New Hampshire.

“She’s just not that good at campaigning,” was the first point in a piece titled “5 reasons Hillary won’t run.”

That’s contrasted with Schweitzer’s back-slapping, plainspoken demeanor.

The pairing of blunt declarations and retail politicking flair could put Hillary on the defensive in early states and force her to stake out positions to clearly pacify the party base.

That’s assuming the early stumbles continue, again leaving the stench of flawed inevitability.

Do the numbers validate the probability of such a scenario? Last week a survey showed just 41 percent of Democratic voters would be enthusiastic at her getting the nomination, compared to 42 percent simply satisfied.

Let’s leave no doubt here – unless no Democrat with experience and a fundraising network runs, Brian Schweitzer’s chances of winning the presidential nod remain low, in this Republican’s mind at least. He’s no Obama and currently seems more content with saying whatever comes to mind than piecing together a national network.

Yet his style fits early primary states, and it’s hard to argue that a bolo tie-wearing, gun-toting progressive ex-governor with a bone to pick could certainly make things interesting. 

Brandon Howell is an account director at Hynes Communications and a contributor to the Peach State political blog Georgia Tipsheet. Follow him on Twitter @BrandonDHowell.