Not that they haven’t been asked about it, because they have been. They’ve simply decided to demure on the issue and avoid passing judgment. Jim Webb, Martin O’Malley, and Bernie Sanders, all refused to engage in criticism when given the opportunity. In fact, in the case of Sanders, he chided the press before the topic even came up.
Report from US News:
If there was ever a moment for a Democratic presidential aspirant to take a legitimate whack at Hillary Clinton, the recent flap over her email usage offered it.
And yet, crickets.
Clinton’s performance at the U.N. on Tuesday – where she acknowledged it would have been smarter to use government email as secretary of state but still defended her decision to delete thousands of personal emails on a server she owns – was roundly panned as evasive, contradictory and insufficient.
But the men who are lightly flirting with the prospect of challenging Clinton – though they’re all finding little oxygen for their messages thus far – are giving her a pass.
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley signaled Wednesday he’s sick of the whole thing, and showed no interest in delving into questions about Clinton’s transparency.
Asked about the topic du jour at the Brookings Institution, O’Malley deflected by saying he was no expert on federal or state open-record requirements.
“And frankly, I’m a little sick of the email drama,” he continued.
When the next hand shot up with a question, O’Malley quipped, “You’re not going to ask about emails, are ya?”
Some have characterized his remarks as a “jab.” But that’s an insult to boxing. This was not even a glancing blow.
Before Clinton spoke about the controversy, Sanders chided reporters for even raising the topic.
“You want to ask me about the state of the economy, unemployment, poverty. You would not ask me about my views on Hillary Clinton,” he recently instructed, according to Bloomberg’s Dave Weigel.
Then there’s former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, who popped briefly back into the conversation Tuesday with a rare public appearance at the International Association of Firefighters conference in Washington.
After his remarks but before Clinton’s on Tuesday, Webb told reporters the email saga was “between her and you all.”
He indicated he wanted to listen to her explanation, and then “people will make conclusions in a better way than I can.”
Another slow pitch. Another whiff.
A Webb spokesman did not respond to a phone call and email inquiry Wednesday seeking to see if the potential candidate’s views had changed.
At this point, I don’t blame them for not criticizing the current Democratic front-runner. If Hillary falters, they’ll need to court her supporters and they certainly do not want to come off as aiding Republicans in a witch-hunt of Hillary’s email server.
For the average Democratic primary voter, this is likely a non-scandal created by the media and bolstered by Republicans in congress to help them in 2016. Webb, O’Malley, and Sanders, have no reason to galvanize Democratic voters against them before the campaign even officially starts.