Sen. Bill Cassidy should be the No Labels choice for president

For no discernibly timely reason, former President Donald Trump last night erupted against Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), calling him a “total flake” and a “stiff.” Cassidy should return the favor by running for president on the No Labels ticket.

Dr. Cassidy, a gastroenterologist, isn’t a nationally known figure and he doesn’t ooze with charisma, but he is a sensible, thoughtful, impressive senator and repeatedly has proved to be a disciplined campaigner. Cassidy is a solid but not extreme conservative with a lifetime American Conservative Union rating of 80 and a liberal Americans for Democratic Action rating under 10. This philosophical profile makes Cassidy perfectly positioned to attract citizens too rightward to ever consider voting to reelect President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris but too protective of democracy to be comfortable voting for Trump.

As the No Labels group reportedly has been worried that its candidates might pull more votes away from Biden than from Trump, it needs a consistent right-center candidate such as Cassidy to head its ticket. Indeed, No Labels should worry less about having one candidate from each party on its team and instead consider taking both from the nominally Republican side, as long as each candidate is a anti-Trump reformer comfortable with most of the No Labels “Common Sense” policy booklet.

Because conspiracy theorist candidate Robert Kennedy Jr. has chosen to move decisively back to his natural leftward home while calling Biden a “much worse threat to democracy” than Trump is, No Labels should see that its only hope of forging a broadly center counterweight is to recruit a Republican such as Cassidy to bear its standard.

Still, why Cassidy in particular, other than that Trump blasted him and that Cassidy has had the courage and decency to stand against Trumps anti-constitutional transgressions?

First, he has an appealing back story, full of compassion. Right after he got married in 1990, he and his wife, Laura, spent eight weeks in Swaziland in a medical mission hospital. In the Louisiana capital of Baton Rouge a few years later, he co-founded a clinic providing free dental, medical, vision, and mental healthcare to the working uninsured. He also set up a partnership to vaccinate 36,000 children against Hepatitis B at no cost to parents or schools. And after Hurricane Katrina, he led an effort to turn an abandoned K-Mart into an emergency healthcare facility for people left homeless by the storm.

Second, he has an excellent record as a can-do senator, working as the ranking member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee and improve the U.S. mental health system. He regularly works “across the aisle” to push innovative, center-right solutions, including a plan to save Social Security that melds Republican free market principles with an idea first floated by Democratic President Bill Clinton a quarter-century ago.

Give him a chance and his earnestness and intelligence will begin attracting voters from a broad spectrum of the American electorate, including from those somewhat left of center but appalled by the Democratic Party’s leftward lurch.

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No matter what conventional wisdom says, there remains a winnable path for No Labels if the group doesn’t give up hope. Two-thirds of the public says there are open to a candidate other than Trump or Biden, and well over 40% of voters consider themselves “independents,” far exceeding the percentages who self-identify as Democrat or Republican. Disgust with both Biden and Trump is high, and a second Biden-Harris term would be a nightmare scenario.

No Labels and Cassidy should roll the dice. The American political system is sick, but this doctor just might cure it.

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