Feb. 10, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Americans Elect Could Field Plausible Candidate

Walker is a co-founder of No Labels but also is a member of the leadership of Americans Elect — and New York Times columnist Tom Friedman’s nominee to be the AE presidential candidate.

Walker is one of the nation’s leading debt hawks, who put together the “Fiscal Wake-Up Tour” involving such disparate groups as the conservative Heritage Foundation, centrist Concord Coalition and liberal Brookings Institution.

He claims he’s not a candidate — though he won’t rule it out — but says Americans Elect is a vehicle at least for offering voters an alternative to Obama and the GOP nominee.

AE is the brainchild of multimillionaire investor Peter Ackerman and has attracted support from former diplomat Stephen Bosworth, former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, former FBI and CIA Director William Webster and Democratic pollster Doug Schoen.

The group has collected enough money — from sources it unfortunately will not reveal — to secure places for its candidate on 30 state ballots so far, with good prospects to get on all 50.

Any registered voter can become an online “delegate” — there are 400,000 so far — and eligible to participate in an online nominating process that begins in May and will have a candidate by June.

AE’s problem is credibility — will it attract political “heavyweights,” people one could imagine as president — or just people who could not win another party’s nomination, such as former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer, so far the only declared AE candidate.

There’s also the possibility that the nominating process could be hijacked by followers of libertarian Republican Ron Paul, whose nomination would practically guarantee Obama’s re-election.

But, as Walker says, the prospect of being on 50 state ballots, getting into the presidential debates and receiving federal matching funds should attract plausible presidents — at least as plausible as Ross Perot, who won 19 percent of the vote as a third-party candidate in 1992 and forced both major parties to focus on the federal deficit.

And, Walker says, a credible centrist candidacy in 2012 — and the prospect of 50-state ballot access and federal matching funds in 2016 — might lead to establishment of a real new party.

“This year’s candidate could be John C. Frémont,” he said, referring to the first Republican presidential nominee in 1856, “who paved the way for Abraham Lincoln in 1860.”

We don’t face civil war right now, but we are experiencing a national governing breakdown. A third choice, representing the moderate near-majority, would be welcome, even if it’s not Abraham Lincoln.

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