A reader flags this from a new book about Gordon Brown:
Rawnsley reveals that another victim of the prime minister’s wrath was Bob Shrum, a respected American political consultant and speechwriter, who had worked for Brown for years. When Brown was accused of plagiarising phrases used by Al Gore and Bill Clinton in his 2007 conference speech, the prime minister screamed at a shaking Shrum: ‘How could you do this to me, Bob? How could you fucking do this to me?’
Why Bob Shrum getting hired to run presidential campaigns has to be one of the great mysteries of American politics. You’d think after the first five losing campaigns….
Given his record, why does Bob Shrum keep getting hired to run campaigns?
Maybe Kerry thought….8th time was the charm?
According to stories I’ve heard on the BBC, there’s a mystique of the American top-level campaign manager, and they (Shrum, Greenberg, Carville) command top $$ overseas. Still doesn’t explain Shrum.
I read a good story years ago (in The American Prospect?) saying Shrum et al. make big $$ and boost their won/lost records managing the overfunded campaigns of safe incumbents for a percentage on ads.
Shrum keeps getting hired because he’s good at what he does. A somewhat anamolous record in one particular kind of race doesn’t really change that, especially when you factor out the Kennedy, Gephardt, and Gore campaigns. I don’t really think you can blame him for Kerrey’s decision not to provide health insurance to his employees either.
Yes, I remember that too. I couldn’t find any of the good pieces about Shrum that I remembered.
Maybe it’s a case of “Yes, he’s a total failure but he has experience!”
“Maybe THIS time he has learnt from his mistakes”
Else I can’t explain it.
Sounds like the parable of the scorpion and the frog.
“For I am a scorpion, and it is in my nature.”
IIRC The West Wing had a B(C?)-story about one of these consultant/ad people that basically boiled down to blackmail…”hire me for the campaign or you’ll see me on Fox News, ‘even influential Democrats agree Democratic_Candidate_01 is unfit to be President!'”
That doesn’t exactly explain why Brown would hire him, but it does explain all the US Presidential campaigns.
Mike in NC
I just can’t reconcile the words ‘Bob Shrum’ and ‘respected’ in the same sentence.
It’s worth pointing out that people drastically overstate Shrum’s presence in Presidential politics. The first campaign he was a major part of was Kennedy’s 1980 run, where Kennedy was trying to defeat an incumbent from his own party,something no one has ever done. Then he worked on Gephardt’s long shot 1988 bid, Kerrey’s 1992 campaign unraveled because of Kerrey, and was advising Gore for about 5 minutes in 2000. The only major campaign he was a central player in was Kerry in 2004, and even if you’re inclined to criticize that, you also have to give Shrum a huge amount of credit for Kerry’s primary win in the first place.
Shrum’s a decent speechwriter (except when he’s apparently recycling his stuff), but strategery ain’t his long suit. Even overall message is not very good. But he can write a good speech.
His problem has been he’s been given jobs he wasn’t good for.
And all those campaigns were at one point favored to win (except Teddy) and then failed.
jesus–who knew that shrum sometimes posted under the name “brien jackson”?
look–shrum is a horrible person who embodies 90% of what has been wrong with the national democratic party for the last several decades.
if you want to spend your sunday morning trying to defend him, then please yourself. but he is a loser, and everyone he touches becomes a loser. also, his defenders.
I’d say that’s pretty drastically overstating the Gephardt, Kerrey, and Kerry campaigns.
That’s just stupid. It vastly overstates the role strategists have in the outcome of general election campaigns, and totally ignores that Shrum has a penchant for signing up with candidates with very little chance of winning. IIRC, he didn’t even join the Kerry campaign until Kerry was being left for dead.
Brien, Kerry won the primaries by default. He was the safe choice when the options were Dean (portrayed as fringe), Edwards (young, smarmy), and Clark (never been elected). No great strategy required.
Shrum is like a really good mortician.
For the longest time I would get Bob Shrum & Dick Morris mixed up in my mind. Now it is about 50% of the time.
Leaving aside Shrum’s own worthlessness there’s the bad incentive structure: Shrum, like most Democratic campaign managers (not Obama’s, & not Republicans’), takes a % of all ad buys, not a fixed fee.
That’s not true at all. Kerry was more or less dead in the water, Dean was racking up all of the major endorsements, raising more money than everyone else, etc., and looked like a solid bet to win the primary. Kerry came back simply because Shrum knew how to run in Iowa, and Dean/Trippi didn’t. While Dean was busing in out of state college kids to go door to door, phone bank, etc., Kerry was locking up precinct captains and important local activists. It was a “given” only in the sense that it was a given Dean couldn’t win Iowa because he didn’t know how to campaign there.
I don’t think Shrum has ever been a campaign manager. That might sound like splitting hairs, but for your point it’s actually a big distinction.
Always with the excuses.
OK, now I get it. He should get credit for wins, but no blame for losses.
1. Campaign stratey plays a very small role in general elections, most of the time anyway, but it plays an outsized role in primaries.
2. I’d say you can assign blame/credit for hings that are within someone’s control. So, for example, you can’t blame Shrum for Gephardt’s inability to raise money, or Kerrey’s lack of charisma, or the fact that it’s basically impossible to primary an incumbent President, because those are things outside of his control. Similarly, though he was brought on to help the Gore campaign in NH in 2000, I’m not really inclined to say he deserves credit for Gore winning the nomination.
There’s a huge difference:
Dick Morris is a detestable, venal blow-toad of a human being.
Bob Schrum is far more like what the “Wizard of Oz” proved to be: “I’m not a bad man, I’m just a bad wizard”.
[or something like that).
Why candidates hire Schrum may induce head-shaking puzzlement, but he doesn’t make your skin feel like it’s crawling with works when he appears on the TV. Dick Morris definitely does.
Except when it does. 2008, for example. Most other election years, too, for that matter. “Very small role”? Only in Shrumistan.
That’s tactical, not strategic. Unless you’re talking about primaries in toto. In which case, it’s the same as a general, for all practical purposes.
If Shrum had half the campaign smarts you seem to be granting him, he’d be smart enough to know that “it’s basically impossible to primary an incumbent Preznit”, that no one has gone directly from the House to the Oval Office since who-knows-when (re: Gephardt), that Kerrey’s “charisma” made Mike Dukakis seem exciting, and so forth. And if he knows those things, and still takes the job, that’s entirely within his control.
Look, I could have run Martha Coakley’s campaign and gotten a better result than she did. Would that make me a top campaign manager or strategist? Same thing with Shrum: he may have helped someone, somewhere, win a campaign at some point. But he’s still an amateur, and should stick to writing speeches.
Brien, I neither know nor care what Shrum’s job titles were. I both know and care that Shrum has collected major percentages on ad buys. And the worse his candidates are doing, the more ads they need.
And can we stop talking about Dick Morris? The guys a scumbag, and if he had any amount of honor, he would have committed seppuku a long time ago. Seeing his name induces my gag reflex, so please stop.
(FWIW: I don’t think Shrum is necessarily a bad guy, just incompetent. Although his book should have been titled “Infinite Excuses”.)
1. How did campaign strategy play a role in the 2008 general election? If anything, that’s one election that’s very solid evidence for my point; Republicans had just had two terms in the White House, the incumbent President was historically unpopular, had presided over an unpopular war, an economi collapse, etc., and the Democratic candidate won a landslide over a Republican candidate who had perhaps been the most popular politician in the country 2 years earlier. It’s pretty much the first election you’d point to to make the argument that underlying, structural reality drives election outcomes.
Well maybe, but it seems rather odd to assume that someone is looking for campaigns to sign-up with simply for the sake of compiling a won-loss record. The notion that maybe Shrum simply thought those people would make good Presidents and he wanted to work for them is totally non-existant in that outlook.
Apparently he can only write one.
Gephardt, Bob Kerrey, John Kerry? I guess Shrum is drawn to bland candidates.
whether they’d make good presidents or not, it’s hard to win a national campaign when a candidate has below average communication skills.
Obama/Axelrod/Plouffe had a plan and stuck to it. McCain’s camp floundered for months. Would McCain still have lost if his campaign management (whoever they were) weren’t so incompetent? Maybe. But considering that most polling showed Obama widening his lead from mid-September to 11/3, then the idea that it was all anti-Bush/Repub backlash doesn’t really hold.
Again with the excuses. “Rather odd”? If he’s not in it to win, then why is he doing it? And if he was enamored of someone’s politics (or charisma or whatever) to the point of signing on with a (likely) loser, then:
A) He lost sight of the goal
B) He’s naive beyond acceptable limits for that position
C) He’d sign on with someone like Nader or Kucinich or any number of other non-cookie-cutter candidates.
Look, there may be some altruism somewhere in Shrum’s Weltanschauung, but I would guess it’s a pretty small component.
So, listen, you’ve been extolling his virtues, in a sometimes-contradictory manner, for about 37 comments. Either come up with a cohesive and consistent argument and stick to it (I guess that’s redundant), or admit you’ll say whatever you think you can get away with to tell us what a great manager/strategist Shrummy is, or finally realize that you’re wrong.
Look, I imagine you’re probably a good guy, and it’s a free country, and you can certainly have whatever opinion you choose, but it’s getting tiring for some of us to keep pointing out your inconsistencies and contradictions.
I miss Floyd Alvis Cooper.
“Shrum still lives, Teh Speech will never die”?
FWIW: yes, I know there’s a difference between this statement and where my response was directed. That’s because the “simply for the sake” is – how do you American’s say? – ah, yes … “Silly”
To be fair, how many campaigns are there in one person’s working lifetime? If you’ve been in the business for 20 years, you can only have worked on five Presidential campaigns at most, or ten Congressional campaigns. And given the two-party system plus the occasional serious third-party candidate, somewhat fewer than half of all candidates are going to win.
yeah, it’s mysterious why shrum still has a good reputation after his candidates have gone down in flames.
oh–maybe it’s because his fluffers like brien here spend all of their time defending his reputation by trashing the candidates.
great consultant shrum is–“pay me a lot of money! i promise to make myself look good at your expense! and if anyone catches on, i’ll get my flacks to go out on the web and trash your reputation in order to prop up mine!”
keep it up, brien–you are giving us excellent insights into shrum’s modus operandi.
Obama consistently widened his lead from the time Lehman collapsed up until the election and it disproves that outside events play a larger role than strategy in general elections?
Well that’s not what I said. Your statement implied that Shrum was picking candidates to work for solely on the basis of who was most likely to win, as if he was putting money on the race in Vegas or something, whereas I pointed out that that’s a somewhat odd way of picking a candidate to support. That’s not really the same as saying someone doesn’t want to win.
Who did I trash? I don’t really think it’s a shocking thing to say Bob Kerrey lacks charisma.
@matt: and he came within 60,000 of winning in war time against a sitting, incumbent with a lackluster candidate. Shrum’s like Ernie Banks, a good player on a bad team.
Jeebus, no need to pile on Brien, he’s making a decent point. I think Shrum is worse than useless. And Brien is making you guys look like jerks, even if I do think he’s wrong. No need for the personal attacks right out the gate, it’s not like he’s trolling, he just disagrees about a tangent on the overall discussion.
@Mike Kay: Man, I loved Bob Kerrey. I still think in a real functioning government, Kerrey would be part of it somewhere.
@kid bitzer: Did Shrum dump you or something? The vitriol is completely out of proportion to the person we’re talking about.
Did he hit you with his car and then drive away?
Or, are you convinced that Dick Gephart was destined to be president? There has to be something here!
What, “Post hoc, ergo prompter hoc”? I don’t think so.
Mid-September was chosen to “normalize” after the RNC bounce for McCain. I could have chosen 9/6, but the gap would have been artificially small.
But since you brought it up: it wasn’t Lehman’s collapse that gave McCain a problem – since most people didn’t really understand the short-term nor long-term implications – it was his response. “Here I come to save the Day! That means that Mighty Mac is on the way!” Contrast that with Obama staying on message or on course or whatever. McCain ended up looking like a fool, mainly because he didn’t have someone telling him “DON’T”.
Already responded to this, but just to reiterate: your “simply for the sake” was a straw man, silly, and not worth responding to directly.
Trying to have it both ways on how important a campaign manager/strategist is/isn’t, for one. It wasn’t that complex a response when I did it earlier, but apparently I overestimated my audience.
I wouldn’t say that either. Basically I don’t like this notion of “superstar strategists.” Shrum, and everyone like him, basically make up a class of people who know what they’re doing and are looking/hoping for a mix of right moment/candidate. No more, no less.
I would say it was much more likely simply the narrative of financial crisis prompting people to oppose the incumbent party, but whatever.
Then what’s the point, exactly? That professional operatives should pick candidates they’re going to support based on who they think most likely to be the ultimate winner? If not, I don’t really see where you have a point. Shrum has basically been involved in 4 primaries, the first two of which he worked for longshot-but-respectable candidates and lost. Actually you can really give him half a win in 1988, in so much as winning Iowa is what elevated Gephardt to the stature he achieved afterwards.
I didn’t try to have it both ways, I said a) that there’s a different dynamic between a primary campaign and a general election, b) that it isn’t objectively fair to blame or credit anyone for something that’s outside of their control. If you want to argue with them, well alright I guess, but I didn’t contradict anything.
If Shrummy had half the talent that Banks had, we wouldn’t be having this discussion, because Kerry would have won in ’04. And 2004 was eminently winnable, even with the sitting wartime Preznit factor.
But he doesn’t, and he didn’t, and so here we are.
FSM will smite me for saying this, but: if Karl Rove had been running Kerry’s campaign, no one today would remember the term “Swiftboating”, and nobody would think of TANG as a breakfast drink anymore.
2004 wasn’t winnable. The only way to re-run that campaign with Kerry winning would be topush it back to 2005.
And before anyone says it, no, the Swiftboaters are not the reason Kerry lost. They made for a flashly sideshow for reporters to write a narrative around, but there’s no statistical evidence that I’m aware of to indicate that they had any significant impact on voters. The biggest factor in the 2004 election was the make-up of the electorate, with whom Bush had a 53% approval rating on election day according to exit polls. Un-sexy I know.
nothing mysterious: shrum has been a major source of the democratic party’s problems over the last several decades. his incompetence, servility, fecklessness, and defensiveness have infected a whole string of campaigns.
and because of the democratic party’s failings, this country has been reduced to an impoverished, distorted, morally bankrupt version of its former self. personally, i’d rather have been hit by a car than to live through the years 2000-2008 again.
is shrum responsible for all of it? of course not. but he has played a central role. eight campaigns. eight losses. and eight times eighty excuses from our pal brien.
You would, and you’d be wrong. McCain might not have advanced, but he wouldn’t have lost ground, if his campaign had a clue.
Willful ignorance is not a winning tactic. Try re-reading my comment at 31.
If Shrum is a starry-eyed idealist (which I doubt), then he shouldn’t be running campaigns. If he’s not, then he either thinks the candidate can/will win, or he can’t. If he mistakenly thinks the candidate can/will win – then his judgment is poor, to put it nicely. If he is correct in his assessment re: can/will win, then why the hell is he 0-for-5 (or however many it is)? And if he thinks the candidate can’t/won’t win? Well, he gets a pass for one, maybe two of those. After that, he’s just a whore.
Look, applying one set of rules to things when it suits your argument, and then a different set of rules to something else which is substantially the same as the first is trying to have it both ways. It can be a winning tactic – look at how the Rethugs have trashed Obama’s agenda. But it’s not an intellectually honest argument. A primary campaign – unless it’s only for one state, one time – is not different enough from a general to warrant a different set of criteria. The only semi-significant difference is the number of opponents you face.
Now, if you want to talk about Howard Dean, and how his Presidential campaign sucked, but his strategy as DNC Chairman was superb, but that’s not really germane to this discussion.
And only one of them won the Democratic nomination, so, WTF?
You’re one of those people who think Shrum has run the campaign of every nominee other than Clinton and Obama since 1980 aren’t you?
Out of curiosity, why are you so hell bent on defending Shrum of all the goddamn people?
So wait, McCain belonged to the party that was in the White House, of whom the President had an historically low approval rating. You’re saying that by adding a financial industry crisis and massive economic uncertainty to Bush’s record wouldn’t cause the Presidential candidate from his party to lose further ground in the election? I’m trying to be polite, but I just can’t take that seriously. If you honestly believe that, you’re just fucking stupid.
Well there’s a couple of issues here. If we’re applying primaries and general elections here, then your standard pretty much requires Democratic strategists to either sit out years that lean overwhelmingly towards the GOP (1980), or to work for the Republican. Just looking at the primary campaigns; there was a real, visceral split in the party in 1980, and Shrum apparently came down with Kennedy. In 1988, I really have no idea why Shrum didn’t like Dukakis, but Gephardt did nearly win. In 1992 you had a wide open field where the first candidate to distinguish himself was going to win, with Shrum in the camp of a war hero*. I don’t know why people count Gore’s campaign, and then in 2004 his candidate won the nomination, then lost a close race amidst an electorate that was demographically unfavorable.
Again, this is just fucking stupid. A general election is one major contest held on the same day all across the country in which you’re competing against the other political party and the electorate is universal. A Presidential primary consists of multiple contest held over a period of months where the opponents are members of your own party (meaning there’s little room to substantively differentiate yourself), and the electorate is overwhelmingly made up of members of your own party (meaning you don’t have the base of automatic partisan votes). This really isn’t even worth spelling out, because you’re obviously just being obtuse now.
The superstar strategist and the implications people draw from it annoys me.
Shrum is better at tactics than strategy.
Sure, and a Republican running for Teddy Kennedy’s vacant seat is not winnable.
And no doubt Willie Horton had no effect on the 1988 election.
Had Kerry’s campaign (A) stomped the Swiftboaters right away, and (B) bullhorned Bush’s desertion, it would have accomplished two things:
1) Counterpunched and put the burden on Bush
2) Shown that Kerry was willing to hit back, which would have set the tone for future attacks on him.
And it’s not clear that votes didn’t change because of it.
So, keep telling yourself that they had no effect, if it makes you feel better.
Approval rating doesn’t necessarily equate to votes, and if Dem voter turnout had been on a par with 2008, that exit poll number would probably have been different. Bush’s aggregate approval rating with the electorate was somewhere around 48 per cent on Election Day, so maybe the 53 per cent is from a self-selected group, i.e. not a random sampling? Who knows?
“The superstar strategist and the implications people draw from it annoys me.”
i see. so you’re really just on this thread in order to counsel us against the mistake of thinking that campaign strategists are superstars.
a view that no one on this thread has taken.
and that explains why your first comment, at #4, was:
“Shrum keeps getting hired because he’s good at what he does.”
that was your clever way of saying, “don’t believe the hype about superstar strategists.”
Thanks so much for elevating the level of discussion.
In this crazy world, it’s nice to find someone, who, despite the facts, continues to believe his own little fantasy.
I’ve known far too many people, for whom it is always someone else’s fault. Shrum is one, you’re another.
I have come to realize, based on your most recent replies, that you’re just – to borrow a phrase – too fucking stupid to understand (A) what I wrote, and (B) reality in general. Doesn’t necessarily make you a bad guy, but it does call into question your ability to walk and chew gum simultaneously.
The points have been presented, you choose to address points not made, not address points actually made, make shit up, and in general present incoherent arguments. So, since “talking” to you is as productive as talking to a post – which you apparently are as dumb as – I guess I’ll let you have the last words.
But please drop us a line when you get back from Dumbfuckistan.
Obviously a bad analogy. You’re comparing a statement made before an election to one made in hindsight with the benefit of having exit polling.
Again, a completely different thing. One was part of a larger effort to attack Dukakis’s record on dealing with crime as an issue in the election, the other was a personal smear campaign with no bearing to any issue in the election.
Except that I’m using actual numbers, whereas you’re just spinning theories to support a pre-conceived notion.
Yes, if the GOP was as unpopular in 2004 as it was in 2008, Kerry probably would have won easily.
You dorealize that concocting theories to explin what you want to believe isn’t “facts” right?
Brien, I can’t prove Shrum’s record of losing key races means he sucks. But there’s no evidence he helped, and he made many millions and got famous while never seeming to pay a price or even to learn.
Well I’ll agree that I don’t really understand how Shrum became a celebrity strategist, other than being familiar to a lot of reporters I guess, but as to the latter, there really just isn’t anything to learn from any of Shrum’s campaigns. There’s not really anything that could have been done differently. Gephardt needed to pull off an upset win in Iowa, which he did, and then hope that donations picked up fast enough to sustain his campaign through Super Tuesday, which they didn’t. Kerrey needed to establish himself as the dominant personality in 1992, but no one could match Clinton in that contest. And Kerry had the misfortune of running just before Bush’s stock collapsed. Which isn’t to say Shrum is wicked brilliant,noone is. It’s all about getting a lot of variables, including some that aren’t within your control, to go right.
How could somebody who is 0-8 merit a post, much less 60 comments?
It’s a twist on a conservative meme: He didn’t fail the campaigns, the campaigns failed him.
So I looked at the FabMac numbers that you cited re: your hypothesis that Swiftboating had no effect, and, frankly, I was stunned by what they showed. No, I was embarrassed.
Since I guess I need to do a mea maxima culpa, here’s the key part of the report:
Q: (Asked Only of Those Aware of the Swiftboating)
And did what you saw, read, or heard make you MORE likely or LESS likely to vote for John Kerry for President? If it didn’t impact how you would vote, just say so.
More Likely 19.4%
No Impact 50.8
Less Likely 27.1
Net +/- -7.7%
In other words, Swiftboating had a significant negative effect on Kerry’s numbers – approximately -4.4% for the electorate, since only 60% of ’em had heard of the Swiftboaters. A 4.4% negative in 19 battleground states translates into a lot of lost votes – somewhere between a 4.4% and 8.8% swing between Kerry and Bush – so I think maybe it had a teensy effect.
So, it appears that, not only do you not understand clear, written arguments, you’re apparently innumerate as well. But thanks for proving my point.
Since the only persons stupid enough to read the FabMac figures the way you did are right-wingers, I figure you’re either a true right-winger, or a parody troll. So let’s just call you a parody, because I expect you don’t want to be called a right-winger.
It’s because the Steelers aren’t playing, so something was needed to pass the time.
Except that that number is completely useless with crosstabs to identify their veracity. Unless you just want to assume that none of the people who answered less likely were people who would have been disinclined to vote for Kerry anyway, or never would have voted for him, which is unlikely, given the how small it is.
You continue to speak gibberish.
Look, SFB, you presented the numbers as supporting your point that Swiftboating had no effect. But the numbers you presented showed a very different picture – that there was a significant effect when looking at people who knew about it.
So, now that your hypothesis has been shown to be complete bullshit by your own “evidence”, you play the “identify their veracity” card (although whose veracity you’re questioning is, as with all your scribblings, unclear), and then the “given how small it is” (which I assume you’re using to mean sample size, not your brain size) is thrown in as if it means something.
And, by the way, the figures for “2-Way Undecideds” turn out even worse for Kerry than the “Overall” numbers. So shove the “would they have voted against Kerry anyway?” crap.
So, you have now shown yourself to be:
1) Barely literate
You might consider another avocation, such as snipe hunting. You’ll probably have more success than you have had here, commenting on things beyond your ability to comprehend.
if you think of brien’s involvement on this thread as one long campaign to get us to vote for bob shrum, and if you ponder how badly run it was and how horribly it has failed, then i think you’ll conclude that it was a lot like one of bob shrum’s campaigns.
which leads me back to my first hypothesis, that brien is really a sock-puppet for shrum. a) because who else would defend him? b) because who else would do it with such trademark incompetence?
I’m not sure that’s true. Axelrod and Plouffe have both been on record saying that they consider the time before Lehman’s collapse, with the exception of the convention, “lost months” in terms of their campaign strategy. Maybe they’re just overreacting to the polling data at that time (McCain closing the gap up until the convention, then taking the lead after his convention), or maybe it’s just the fact that they have a vested interest in downplaying their role in their boss’ campaign. But we don’t know, maybe their strategy just wasn’t that important, either.
Overall, while Brien’s going much further than necessary in defending Shrum, especially for the shit he’s getting, he’s making some good points. Major strategists ARE overvalued, and honestly, acting like they do ends up as just a way of avoiding responsibility- we lose all but three Presidential campaigns in the last 30 years, but it CAN’T be a problem with the party of all those candidates, it MUST be one boogeyman consultant…
I dunno. Shrum is clearly out of his depth, but it helps when you cook with the right ingredients, as he did not (and yes, that’s a knock on him, too).
The relative value of a strategist/consultant is worth debating, certainly. For example, it’s highly unlikely W would have even been close to winning, had Rove worked for Gore and Shrum/Brazile/whoever worked for Bush. Rove is at least as vile an entity as Dick Morris, and his tactics were/are repulsive, but he also got results more often than not. [No, I wouldn’t want Gore to have won using full-boat Rovian tactics.] Although he’s been tiresome for the last 10 or so years, Carville was a big part of the reason Clinton won in 1992. (Ron Brown, too, of course, but being DNC Chair is not quite the same as direct campaigning.)
However, the whole “but look what he had to work with!” argument only goes so far. To paraphrase James Bond: “One time is a lousy candidate; two times is ‘things you can’t control’; three times is your own incompetence.” Shrummy is well past three times.