Accountability: The Fall of Bill Clinton

Makes sense. Paul Vallas is a tangential family friend - the kind of guy you see at the occasional wedding/funeral/baptism. Glad to see him do better ITTL.
Wow!

For the Republicans, it seems unlikely that Patrick Fitzgerald would be made US Attorney by a Gore Administration. Peter Fitzgerald would the be up for reelection in 2004 and therefore a harder race for Democrats.
 
Wow!

For the Republicans, it seems unlikely that Patrick Fitzgerald would be made US Attorney by a Gore Administration. Peter Fitzgerald would the be up for reelection in 2004 and therefore a harder race for Democrats.
The Chicagoland Greek (I'm Greek on both sides) community is pretty small at the end of the day. I think his wife knows one of my cousins or something like that. I think I've met him once at a church picnic years ago when he was running for governor.

Fitzgerald may run, he may not. He alienated the GOP leadership OTL but a lot of that can be easily butterflied away. Then again, he seems like the kind of guy who is both principled enough to buck his party when need be and doesn't give a damn about them getting mad at him in retaliation. As always, we'll wait and see.
 
Ch. 17: 2003 and Culture
The Gore Administration was frustrated by the year. High profile unforced errors had been getting more coverage than their successes. Afghanistan, Ambassadorgate, and a rolling cycle of other small stories seemed to dominate coverage. The economy was rebounding after the stimulus packages passed over the past two years. The stock market had recovered. Investor confidence had improved some after the CART Act. Executive action by the Environmental Protection Agency, Transportation Department, and Housing and Urban Development were slowly transforming the way America lived. But there was burnout in the face of new opposition. It is often said that the second hardest job in Washington after the President is White House Chief of Staff. Ron Klain was feeling that pressure and ready to move on. Perhaps Gore’s closest advisor, other than Tipper, it was a hard but necessary. Sylvia Matthews was picked as the first female Chief of Staff in history. Matthews had served in the Clinton and Gore White Houses in multiple roles including Deputy Chief of Staff, Deputy OMB Director, and most recently as Cabinet Secretary. Matthews was notorious to some Republicans for her role during the Watergate scandal, as part of her testimony included searching Vince Foster’s garbage after his death.

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“American anxiety” was slowly making its way through the discourse and cultural zeitgeist. Compared to the previous decade, by the end of 2003 something certainly felt different in the country. The Millennium bombings and 9/11 attack that sparked the on-going War in Afghanistan felt hand-in-hand with “the slump”. Perhaps it had started with Clinton’s resignation, but there had been a general dissatisfaction with most of American life. In roughly equal numbers, the populace had been split in thirds according to polling – a third saying the country was changing too quickly, a third saying it was not changing fast enough, and the final third either indifferent or okay with things as they were. There had been such hope prior to the dawn of the new millennium that was sensed, but on the other side of the celebrations people were realizing most everything was just about the same.

This “unease” was noticed in the culture and reflected in three trilogies that dominated the box office during the Gore years. The Lord of the Rings trilogy was coming to an end and captured the sense that forces beyond what mere individuals could handle were at play. The Matrix made many think about how maybe the world was not as it appeared. The Star Wars prequals showed how American expectations were too high and could not possibly be met. Children, perhaps needing an escape from the anxiety of their elders, turned to a fantasy world in Harry Potter in droves. Adults, seeking a similar escape, turned to an explosion of reality television, which was often anything but.

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The two parties, seemingly unsure or unable to deal with their real economic and military concerns, continued in the “culture wars” as well, but Clinton’s resignation had opened a separate front. Abortion, same-sex marriage, flag burning, and the usual issues were still being made national issues as “family values.” Conservatives could point to Clinton as the failure of liberal morals. The suspension of Alabama Justice Roy Moore, who refused to remove a display of the Ten Commandments from the courthouse, was seen as just one example of how Christian values were being attacked.

After Clinton’s resignation and Dole’s loss, a national soul-searching had begun among women, liberal women in particular. Feminists had been a Clinton booster and the “soccer moms” had backed him in 1996. There had been questions about his behavior since 1991 but they had largely been written off by liberals through perhaps just straight partisan backing. Clinton had been part of the backlash from the Anita Hill scandal and the “Year of the Women” in 1992. After 5 years of meditation on Lewinsky, Clinton, sex, and the workplace, a different strain of thought had been bubbling to the surface, in particular by Generation X.

Generation X, now roughly in their twenties and early thirties had entered the workforce. This was a “post-feminist” generation, where women had higher rates of participation in education and employment but did not see the direction confrontation of “feminist issues” that defined earlier waves of women voices. They were socially more liberal than the Baby Boomers, but of smaller numbers and less political participation. “Grrrl power” was seen as rejection of Second Wave feminism, embracing sexuality and femininity as an asset. More technologically adapt than previous generations, a lot of the discussion by Generation X was on the internet. But it was hard to square this pro-sex attitude with Clinton’s treatment of Lewinsky, which was being reinterpreted as not just an affair or scandal, but as possibly sexual harassment in the workplace. Anita Hill was not a debate Generation X had much say in and was being revisited by this new cohort, with Clinton’s own issues being part of the same discussion. As Generation X was growing older and becoming more prominent in media and journalism, these conversations about harassment would become more visible in society.

Commentary about the Clinton affair (affairs?) had been on-going but came back up in 2003 as Bill and Hillary Clinton began their “apology and listening tour.” He had begun making income on the speaker circuit, often internationally, while she took up more private legal services in New York. After the lawsuits and being stuck in the political wilderness for several years, the two (both individually and as a couple) became more visible politically in 2003 as the Democratic Party began thinking about who would next lead their party, especially following the 2002 midterm defeats.

Same-sex marriage would be thrust into the political debate as another cultural fault line. Republicans, having lost three presidential elections in a row, still showed their strength through Congress and state houses. President Gore, who had supported the Defense of Marriage Act, was now calling for civil unions for gay and lesbian couples, arguing that government represented partnerships should be separated from the sanctity of marriage. It certainly did not help the delicate politics that his wife Tipper and daughter Karenna were visible advocates on the matter. Gay marriage was only supported by 25-30% of the country. Republicans and conservative Democrats had backed a potential Federal Marriage Amendment to define marriage as between a man and woman. Outside of conservative state actions, the two sides really did not have much movement either way in legislative or executive efforts outside of speech and debate.

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The status quo was blown apart however by Lawrence v. Texas, when the Supreme Court invalidated multiple sodomy laws, and by the Massachusetts State Supreme Court in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, which ruled in November 2003 that the state constitution required equal treatment under the law, that effectively civil unions were separate and unequal. Massachusetts Governor Shannon O'Brien welcomed the decision as Republicans nationally railed against “unelected, activist judges”. While the national amendment stalled, Alaska, Nebraska, Hawaii, and Nevada had passed state constitutional bans on same sex marriage. But in the wake of Goodridge, 11 states would end up with bans on the ballot in 2004. Social conservatives hoped to play to their base and boost turnout for these votes. There was also a hope that this would appeal to Hispanics (majority being Catholic), who sat out or avoided the Republican ticket in 2000 but were otherwise seen as natural allies on social issues.

While this was all good in theory, there were going to be hiccups for the Republican “family values” agenda.
 
Wonder how the GOP would respond to comments of the barrage of inane unethical values present in the Reagan years?

Definitely looking to be pretty interesting.
 
This continues to be great! Tracks OTL enough to be familiar while being different enough to have a unique spin. It’s interesting you chose to go with Mitch rather than Frist post-Lott, as IIRC Lott remains convinced to this day that he only got forced out as leader because Frist led a shadow campaign against him after the Thurmond comments came out
 
This continues to be great! Tracks OTL enough to be familiar while being different enough to have a unique spin. It’s interesting you chose to go with Mitch rather than Frist post-Lott, as IIRC Lott remains convinced to this day that he only got forced out as leader because Frist led a shadow campaign against him after the Thurmond comments came out
My thinking is that in this scenario the person wielding the knife, as it were, does not gain the fruits. Bill Frist is hurt in Republican circles by his close ties to the President. Since the Republicans are opposing a Democratic White House, McConnell is chosen instead because of his confrontational stance. Same thinking with Lott only getting demoted and not resigning completely - the GOP circles the wagons some since some of the attacks are coming from the Gore Administration.
 
My thinking is that in this scenario the person wielding the knife, as it were, does not gain the fruits. Bill Frist is hurt in Republican circles by his close ties to the President. Since the Republicans are opposing a Democratic White House, McConnell is chosen instead because of his confrontational stance. Same thinking with Lott only getting demoted and not resigning completely - the GOP circles the wagons some since some of the attacks are coming from the Gore Administration.
A sound thought process! keep up the good work
 
Ch. 17: 2004 Primaries Begin
2003 took a toll on the 2004 primary campaigns. As expected, multiple candidates had dropped out before the first real contest, the Iowa caucuses. Resources were limited – money, media, volunteers, but most of all time. This applied to both parties. Some candidates, like Governors Tommy Thompson and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, just did not have the money coming into their campaigns to sustain a real run. Other candidates, like Jim Gilmore and Bob Graham, could not compete for attention in the crowded field and failed to connect with the media or voters. As Iowa and the real votes started creeping up, both Republican and Democratic fields were still chaotic and unwieldy, and campaigns reacted accordingly. Stand-out debate performances were seen as an opportunity to break from the herd. The wide variety of candidates was matched a wide variety of strategies, like a strong online fundraising effort by Howard Dean or expansive mailing networks tapped by Helen Chenoweth-Hage.

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On the Republican side, the declared “frontrunners” were Newt Gingrich, John Kasich, John McCain, and Jeb Bush, simply by name recognition. Jeb was bolstered by his family while other governors, like Colorado Governor Bill Owens, did not have Washington press connections to get immediate recognition like the senators or the “previously ran”. Horse race polling showed different, rotating “frontrunners” but a large number of undecided voters persisted and many primary voters were actively considering more than one candidate at a time. Reaching the front of the pack proved dangerous for some as well, creating a target for others to snipe at. A quixotic campaign by businessman Herman Cain was gaining media attention with wild debate performances and interviews. After a week or two of increased scrutiny it quickly stalled after credible sexual harassment allegations came to the surface. Along those lines, Governor John Rowland’s campaign imploded after scandals broke back home in Connecticut, making it more likely that Rowland would see the inside of a federal minimum-security prison than the White House.

But media attention did not always translate to votes or support. Kasich, nationally known after 2000, was widely covered but never broke away in polling. Meanwhile, some breakout candidates like Arkansas Governor Mark Huckabee saw organization and messaging happening outside of mainstream coverage. He also received some friendly coverage on late night television in part due to his story of successful weight loss over the past year, combining a self-help message with his campaign. By January 19, expectations were equally important. John McCain had deliberately messaged that he was sitting Iowa out again, focusing on New Hampshire, South Carolina, and other later states instead. When the votes were being decided in the multiple caucus rounds in gyms and meeting rooms around Iowa, everything was up in the air.

There was no clear winner that night, but when everything settled the following day, Norm Coleman surprised a lot of people. The Minnesota Governor had not gained a lot of national coverage, but his proximity to Iowa turned out to be a bonus in the crowded field. He had been regularly visiting the state since his term started back in 1999 and had made a lot of friends with local party leaders. With the splitting of other candidates and negotiations in the causes themselves, the final counted vote showed him just 2% above second place Jeb Bush. In a blow, John Kasich came in a virtually tied third place with Senator Rick Santorum. Gingrich, McCain, and Huckabee also ended up around 10% but a little further back. The percentages were all extremely close, but when expectations were part of the game, the final rankings got overplayed compared to actual delegate wins.

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With actual votes tallied, the Republicans had a real race.

As the Republicans hashed out who their competitor would be, the first big decision on the Democratic side was on Vice President Dianne Feinstein. The Vice President had not cleared the field, with active conversation around other candidates happening after the 2002 midterms. Feinstein, despite her historic role as the first woman as Vice President, was not a darling of the party’s liberal whites or African-American bases. Her primary role in the Gore Administration as a key budget negotiator did not make her a visible icon. Additionally, her other role as a shepherd for Gore’s judicial nominees was hamstrung in the 108th Congress. By the time Pirates of the Caribbean was a box office hit, the Vice President announced what most observers already suspected – that she would not be a candidate for the 2004 election. With neither the current President nor Vice President running, the Democratic field was wide open without a serious front-runner.

While starting out with fewer candidates than the Republicans, there also seemed to be fewer paths forward for Democrats. President Al Gore, whose saw tepid approval ratings by nation at large, was still generally popular within the Party. Candidates had to walk a line of both defining themselves separately from the current White House while also not being too openly critical the President. 12 years in the White House had redefined the Democratic Party too, constraining some of the positions a candidate could take. Directly supporting a ban on gay marriage, for example, was widely unacceptable for a presidential primary candidate in 2004. By the end of 2003, out of the over a dozen candidates that had originally tried to start up a campaign, only a handful serious contenders remained by the time Iowa rolled around – former Speaker Dick Gephardt, Senator Andrew Cuomo, Governor Gray Davis, Senator John Edwards, Senator Evan Bayh, and former Governor Howard Dean. Reverend Al Sharpton would actually win the first contest, the D.C. primary, but most of his coverage was as an activist, issue candidate, and not a serious contender. Reporting by The New York Times that his campaign was supported by Republican dirty trickster Roger Stone did not add any credibility to his motives for running.

There were was a real sense of frustration by women’s groups. Maryland Governor Townsend, the only major female candidate struggled early in the campaign. She had a short tenure and was seen as ‘over-ambitious’ to run for President so quickly. Other high profile possibilities had sat out the chance to run in 2004. California Senator Barbara Boxer flirted with it but passed when it became clear that Govenor Davis was interested in running. Potential recruits like Governor Jeanne Shaheen simply seemed uninterested in the role, or maybe thought that 2004 was a hard election for Democrats to win. No matter the reason, it was still clear that despite some recent progress, the bench of Democratic women remained extremely shallow.

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Despite the lack of diversity in appearance, each candidate had staked out unique lane. Former Speaker Gephardt was running as an old school labor Democrat, with focus on work and health care. He had a high floor with name recognition but low ceiling, and also lagged in fundraising. Major unions like AFL-CIO were holding their endorsement in the early primary Cuomo came in swinging, with heavy financial backing and media presence from New York. His focus on urban and affluent middle class issues seemed an odd mix for Iowa and was fixing on New Hampshire and later states. Howard Dean, despite coming from a small state, was seen as an early front runner. His campaign was using new internet-heavy organizational tools and fundraising, flexing grassroots enthusiasm. Dean tacked out the unabashedly liberal positions, calling for universal health care and a plan to end the War in Afghanistan. John Edwards focused on poverty elimination and college expansion, while leaning into a more media focused, telegenic campaign. Evan Bayh’s campaign was arguably the most moderate or conservative plank, depending on who was describing it. He touted balanced budgets from his time as governor and focused on American manufacturing, while also urging caution on gay rights and other social issues. Davis, coming off an expensive but strong reelection in California, was the last major competitor to hop in, waiting until September 2003. Davis’s fundraising was significant as well and came in as a pragmatic outsider who could be a spiritual successor to Gore, in particular on the environment.
 
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Along those lines, Governor John Rowland’s campaign imploded after scandals broke back home in Connecticut, making it more likely that Rowland would see the inside of a federal minimum-security prison than the White House.
Harry Truman did say that the White House was the best prison in the world so maybe that will give Rowland a leg up in the experience department? :)

Seriously though, and I know I sound like a broken record, but good update. Looking forward to more. Makes sense that the Democratic field is smaller and less "serious" given the landscape ITTL.
 
This is shaping up to be quite the race indeed. Without Iraq, does feel relatively low stakes, although the culture wars are probably going to be in full effect now. Is Hilary standing for anything right now with the elections, or staying in the private sector?
 
This is shaping up to be quite the race indeed. Without Iraq, does feel relatively low stakes, although the culture wars are probably going to be in full effect now. Is Hilary standing for anything right now with the elections, or staying in the private sector?
Still private, my assumption is Chelsea still wants to go to NYC so Bill and Hillary still go to NY as well. She missed the windows for AG and Senator so offices are sort of on lock. I’m sure she still has ambitions but not sure. She isn’t going to primary Nita Lowry.

NYC Mayor in ‘09?
 
Still private, my assumption is Chelsea still wants to go to NYC so Bill and Hillary still go to NY as well. She missed the windows for AG and Senator so offices are sort of on lock. I’m sure she still has ambitions but not sure. She isn’t going to primary Nita Lowry.

NYC Mayor in ‘09?
Would Mayor, even of NYC, appeal to her? I can imagine NY Gov being a better target, especially if she sees it as a first step towards a Presidential run of her own (even if this isn't a given in a world where Bill was forced out and his sexual improprieties look even worse in retrospect).

Loving the TL, and can't wait for more.
 
Would Mayor, even of NYC, appeal to her? I can imagine NY Gov being a better target, especially if she sees it as a first step towards a Presidential run of her own (even if this isn't a given in a world where Bill was forced out and his sexual improprieties look even worse in retrospect).

Loving the TL, and can't wait for more.
Yeah not sure! ITTL she was probably interested in the 2002 race but didn’t go through with it since JFK Jr. lived and jumped in early. I don’t think she would primary Schumer or Cuomo, also she’d lose.

NY AG?

Maybe she tries to reintegrate with the State Department or Justice Department but I don’t think Gore would appoint her and any Senate appointment hearings would go poorly.

I guess other another possibility I’ve seen suggested is her moving to Chicagoland and running for Illinois office but she’s already spent a few years in New York.
 
At this point in the timeline it is NY or bust for HRC. The next IL senate race is 2004 (the Obama vs Keyes one OTL). She doesn't have the time to credibly move back and not get labelled an opportunistic carpetbagger. The other senate seat is Durbin's and primary-ing him is a non-starter.

I guess she could move here and run for the House, but she'd either have an uphill race in the suburbs (the Great Republican Collapse in the collar counties is years away if it even happens ITTL) or try and primary a Chicago-based Democrat. Good luck with that.
 
At this point in the timeline it is NY or bust for HRC. The next IL senate race is 2004 (the Obama vs Keyes one OTL). She doesn't have the time to credibly move back and not get labelled an opportunistic carpetbagger. The other senate seat is Durbin's and primary-ing him is a non-starter.

I guess she could move here and run for the House, but she'd either have an uphill race in the suburbs (the Great Republican Collapse in the collar counties is years away if it even happens ITTL) or try and primary a Chicago-based Democrat. Good luck with that.
So part of this TL's concept was a Clintonless 21st American presidential politics, but I know she is a driven person and definitely would be interested in some sort of political comeback. Would she still think she'd be the first woman President? I am not sure,

Along those lines, I haven't flushed out exactly what the higher profile might be for Tipper. She was definitely a visible advocate for issues IOTL, Karenna Gore, older than Chelsea and by 2000 has a J.D., would also be well known to the American public. I assume she'll follow the same climate activism, just no firm designs. The other three Gore children, Kristin, Sarah, and also Al seem less interested in politics.
 
Ch. 18: Contested Primaries
After Norm Coleman’s surprise win in Iowa, the Republican campaigns scrambled to pivot to New Hampshire just 8 days later. The expectations game played a critical role. John McCain won the state easily, having doubled down on the state and the rest of the candidates were effectively campaigning for second. Kasich’s second place result, however, reasserted his own campaign and regained some more momentum after his stumble in Iowa, slightly beating out Jeb Bush. Norm Coleman attempted to turn his Iowa boom into a more sustained effort but simply lacked the campaign resources to place better than fifth behind Gingrich.

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Jeb Bush was also frustrated by his third place showing in New Hampshire. After his brother’s refusal to run in 2000, all eyes from the Bush circles turned to him. The nationally known “right to end of life” debate around Terri Schiavo had cemented him with social conservatives as a hero to some. Since taking office in 1999, Jeb Bush had been actively involved in the legal case. When the final case in the matter was dismissed and the feeding tube removed, Bush signed into the emergency session act “Terri’s Law” and forced the hospital to reinsert the tube in October 2003. He was seen as a “right to life” hero, even as the issue was appealed in the state court system.

With New Hampshire behind them, the other minor candidates began to drop out and as the race began to nationalize, when connections and fundraising began more and more important. There was very little media coverage when, for example, Jim Gilmore dropped out and endorsed John Kasich. The contests on February 3 was dubbed “Mini Tuesday”. When other campaigns had pivoted away from these states to New Hampshire, Mike Huckabee saw a comeback with wins in Missouri and Oklahoma, two states bordering his Arkansas. McCain won South Carolina by just three points over Jeb Bush. Mostly ignored was Helen Chenoweth-Hage’s takeover of the North Dakota caucuses. Norm Coleman’s campaign failed to seize on any momentum out of Iowa and he endorsed Kasich after his flash began to fizzle, calling for a new generation of leadership. February 10 saw Kasich pick-up D.C. but Huckabee’s momentum continued with an extremely thin win over Bush in Tennessee. Wisconsin was McCain’s first real disappointment when it came back for Kasich. After coming in fourth in Wisconsin, Rick Santorum surprised some by endorsing his fellow senator McCain over Huckabee.

The final debate before Super Tuesday proved to be a critical turning point. McCain, exacerbated by the long campaign and low on finances, no longer appeared as the reasonable maverick but cranky, snapping at the other candidates on stage. The once preferable media coverage McCain had been receiving quickly disappeared. His finance reform efforts had seemingly turned off big money donors. The months on the road had maybe worn down the Senator, and his famous temper started to show through. Super Tuesday was make or break, with over 20% of all the delegates on the line. It seemingly broke McCain. While Kasich, McCain, Huckabee, Bush, Gingrich, and the quixotic Chenoweth-Hage all remained in the race, some hoping for a miracle the next day.

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The Democrats were having their parallel contests. It was the first time since 1988 that both major parties had seriously contested primaries for the same election. President Gore and DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe visibly stressed that the President and the Party were not playing favorites and wanted the process to work itself out. The early Democratic campaign showed that Iowa was a toss-up between Dick Gephardt and Howard Dean. Dean, assuming a win in New Hampshire, leaned in and spent heavily in Iowa to contest what former Speaker Gephardt hoped would be an easy win. Just a small state Governor, Dean’s grassroot efforts were a surprise attack on one of the most powerful players in Washington. The two battled and bloodied each other with negative ads, which in hindsight allowed other candidates to creep up. On January 19, Iowa was barely won by Senator John Edwards with a just a 4% lead over Governor Gray Davis. Expectations wounded Dean and Gephardt. The former Speaker fell the hardest, placing fourth in a race that some thought he would win back during the Iowa State Fair. Almost two weeks later Dean was caught flat-footed when he came in second to Cuomo in New Hampshire, who had never left the state to chance. Dean, a doctor running on universal health care, saw a slew of stories calling his campaign “mortally wounded.”

By Mini Tuesday, Gephardt was effectively out of the game, demonstrated by the fact that he could not even win Missouri. Arizona, Missouri, and New Mexico went to Davis, South Carolina to Edwards, Oklahoma to Bayh, North Dakota to Dean, and Delaware to Cuomo. Davis’s and Cuomo’s campaigns continued to be flushed with cash as the grassroots support to Edwards and Dean started to dry up. Gephardt, despite his position of prominence, had never really taken off the voting base with a party that had changed since 1988. February 7, Bayh won Michigan but with a significant delegate split with Cuomo and Davis, while Davis walked away with Washington. The next day, Davis showed a robust organizational prowess, beating Dean in the Maine caucus. Edwards would win Tennessee and Virginia, but barely with again Cuomo and Davis sapping the proportional appointment of delegates. Davis’s twin wins in the weeks prior to Super Tuesday made him the candidate to beat come Super Tuesday on March 2.

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The Republicans were also splitting their victories. Gingrich would win Georgia and Kasich would win Ohio, easy home state wins. A pattern started to develop though as the results came in. Bush and Huckabee would split the socially conservative vote across the map with neither winning a state that night. McCain’s only win was in Maryland. Kasich ran the board outside the south, picking-up California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Gingrich, seeing no path forward, dropped out that night. A week later would show that Bush was down but not out, winning Texas, Florida, and Mississippi. Huckabee’s win in Louisiana shut McCain and Kasich out of the night. McCain was on his last legs. While getting respectable coverage in mainstream media, his fundraising still lagged. While the Republican contest was still an open question, the Democrats had effectively secured their nominee by mid-March, so the pressure was on.

CNN scrambled to host an extra, final debate in Chicago on March 15, the night prior to the Illinois primary. Bush, McCain, Kasich, and Huckabee all agreed. Chenoweth-Hage’s longshot libertarian campaign complained about being excluded. The long campaign had extracted a toll though. Jeb Bush, now second in the delegate count, gave a performance mired by slurred words and a sluggish appearance. He was obviously fighting a malady, confirmed later by the campaign to be the flu. After the debate, Kasich had a decisive win in Illinois. The next big primary Pennsylvania was over a month away. Kasich’s pledged delegate count was barely half the needed amount to clinch the nomination, but his definitive lead was unignorable. Superdelegates, party officials who were not bound to state results, had been slowly coalescing around the former Vice-Presidential candidate as the primaries dragged on. After his win in Illinois, they quickly began to break towards Kasich. Gingrich, who had remained on the sidelines, made came around to endorse his fellow former House member. Then Elizabeth Dole happily endorsed her former running mate. Huckabee and Hage were furious, calling it a “rigged” primary but neither really had the strength left to hold on for any longer. Bush, who arguably did have enough resources to do so, saw the writing on the wall. Coverage of the race had started to hurt him in his home state. Somebody had pulled a clip of Bush promising to serve his full terms as Governor if elected. Ever the party loyalist and with grumbling in Florida, Bush dropped out and pledged his delegates to Kasich at the Republican National Convention in Dallas. Despite what some political junkies wanted, this concession put to rest what had been a growing chatter of any brokered convention. John McCain took some time to think about it. He had missed the filing deadline for the Arizona Senate primary. After a week away from the spotlight, he eventually suspended his campaign.

John Kasich was the Republican nominee.

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Kasich should be in the driver's seat for the general.

I'm curious what Davis would have done OTL if there was no recall. Running for president makes as much sense as anything else.
 
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