President Barack Obama would be the first to admit that he is not America's favorite person. The current president has faced his fair share of criticism during his 6 years as president, most of which has stemmed from the right side of the political spectrum. However, Obama has now found a new opponent on his own side of the court: former Montana Governor and current mining executive Brian Schweitzer.
Schweitzer first rose to national prominence after giving a speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, in which his key focus was renewable energy. At the time, Schweitzer seemed to be on board with his fellow Democrats, enlisting his services as a charismatic, down-to-earth speaker to help Barack Obama secure the bid as next president of the United States.
Schweitzer's time in the Democratic party's lime-light did not last long, though, following conflicts between he and President Obama concerning the implementation of the Affordable Healthcare Act. Addressing a Montana crowd before President Obama took the stage in August of 2009, Schweitzer stated, "Did you know that, just 300 miles north of here, did you know they offered universal health care 62 years ago?"
While this comment may have seemed fairly innocuous, it ruffled the feathers of President Obama, who, when he took the stage following Schweitzer, replied, "I'm not in favor of a Canadian system, I'm not in favor of a British system, I'm not in favor of a French system. What we've said is let's find a uniquely American system." Obama added that "For us to completely change that [the healthcare system], it would be too disruptive. Max (Baucus) and I agree, that's not the right way to go."
Following this brief exchange of contradictory opinions, Obama and Schweitzer apparently held a closed door meeting in which Obama told Schweitzer that his stance on the healthcare issues was not helping the passage of the ACA and asked him to step down. The White House administration has not corroborated this report.
Schweitzer may have stepped down after their initial meeting, but his opposition to Obama's healthcare policies (which Schweitzer has stated "will collapse on its own weight"), along with his staunch disapproval of the NSA (whose actions Schweitzer labeled as “un-effing-believable"), have led Schweitzer to consider running for the 2016 presidency as the "anti-Obama." : “I didn’t say I was going to run for president in 2016, did I? I didn’t say I wouldn’t, but I didn’t say I was. But it’s something I’m interested in."
As to why he may decide to run for president in 2016, Schweitzer had a simple answer: "We can’t afford any more hard right. We had eight years of George Bush. Now we’ve had five years of Obama, [who], I would argue, in many cases has been a corporatist."
When asked whether he had any positive opinions of President Obama, Schweitzer responded, “My mother, God rest her soul, told me ‘Brian, if you can’t think of something nice to say about something, change the subject.’”
Obama is not Schweitzer's only Democratic enemy, however. Schweitzer has also dished-out his fair bit of criticism toward Hillary Clinton, who is the leading Democratic presidential nominee for 2016: "There's a whole lot of America that looks at each other and says, 'Well, there's 340 million people living in America. Isn't there somebody other than a Bush or a Clinton who can be president in these modern times? Isn't there hope for somebody who's running a business or who has served overseas or comes from a different occupation to become president? Are we now in the era of royalty again?' So I think there's some level of frustration about that."
So what makes Schweitzer so different? If you ask the man himself, he believes that his monetary policies are what make him a unique and promising Democratic nominee: “As governor, I spent eight years — every single year I was governor we had the largest budget surplus in the history of Montana. I cut more taxes than any governor in the history of Montana, invested more new money in education. If a Democrat is good with money, you can’t beat ‘em. When you’ve got a Democrat like me who is good with money and Republicans have to admit it, they say, ‘Oh, we don’t want to run against him again."
While Schweitzer does support many liberal policies, such as a single-payer healthcare system, civil rights for homosexuals, and anti-war measures, he also supports his fair share of conservative policies; Schweitzer has a tendency to side with conservatives on gun issues, and has also expressed his support of the Keystone Pipeline.
Most political pundits would go out on a very sturdy limb and say that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee for 2016. However, one must keep Schweitzer in consideration as a dark-horse candidate, especially considering the recent success of such libertarian, political line-blurring candidates such as Ron and Rand Paul.
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