Former Montana Gov. visits Iowa, coy about 2016 presidential campaign

“I think a woman president might be the right time, the right place..."

Brian Schweitzer. (Reuters file photo)
Brian Schweitzer. (Reuters file photo)

It might be “the right time” for a female president, according to former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, but he’s not willing to cede the 2016 Democratic nomination to the queen of what he calls one of America’s “royal” families.

Schweitzer, who wouldn’t say whether or not he will seek the Democratic nomination in 2016, suggested the party owes women, a majority of whom have been voting Democratic in state and federal elections.

However, his endorsement was not specific and came in the form of a backhanded compliment during taping of an Iowa Public Television Iowa Press segment that will air Dec. 27.

because you can’t screw it up any worse than we’ve got it in Washington,” Schweitzer said. “Maybe a woman could get it right. Maybe women can bring people together.”

Schweitzer, who was prevented from running for a third term because of Montana’s term limits, has indicated he’s thinking about making a run for the 2016 nomination. Now the chairman of Montana’s largest mining company, Schweitzer said he wants to do a “full Grassley” – visit all 99 Iowa counties as Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley does every year. However, he’s not sure that will happen before Iowa’s 2016 first-in-the-nation precinct caucuses.

And he might not run at all.

“Damn good question,” he said when pressed on whether he's considering a presidential campaign. “Not sure I have. Not sure I will.”

Schweitzer then launched into a less-than-flattering critique of the Obama administration and the front-running Democratic successor – Hillary Clinton. Obama’s Affordable Care Act doesn’t go far enough in addressing factors driving health care costs, he said, and the president has continued a pointless war in Afghanistan.

“Can you find somebody in Iowa or any place else in America that can say why we went to Afghanistan and why we’re still there?” Schweitzer asked. “Until we have leadership in Washington that understands that our military is to protect American interests at home and not be the police of the world, we’re going to make these mistakes again.”

Asking Iowans, who will begin the 2016 nomination process, to support candidates who look forward rather than repeat the mistakes of the past is why he is in Iowa, Schweitzer said.

“I think we need to look at a leader that is going to be talking about the future,” he said. “Maybe we want to make sure that mistakes that have been made in the past are not the mistakes that we make in the future.”

He’s repeatedly skewered Clinton for her 2002 vote to go to war in Iraq, but said that shouldn’t disqualify her from consideration in 2016. Neither does he think the nomination should be handed to her out of some sense of entitlement.

“We’re a democracy and we don’t just choose the royal families,” he said, noting there has been 20 years of either a Clinton or a Bush in the White House since 1989 “and now we're talking about (former Florida Gov. Jeb) Bush or a Clinton again.”

“I think in America we’re always looking for leadership that takes us to the future,” Schweitzer said. “And we're not often looking in the rear view mirror for our leadership.”The Iowa Press interview with Schweitzer will air on IPTV at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 27 and at noon Dec. 29, on IPTV World at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 28 and be available online at the evening of Dec. 27.