The New York Times Thursday devoted two-thirds of its lead National section to reporter Trip Gabriel’s profile of...left-wing Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, who is not even in the Democratic presidential race? Why: Well, according to the headline, “He’s Not in the Race for President, but He Sure Sounds Interested.” Now there’s some solid news judgment (click “expand”):
As 20 Democrats debated on national television, Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio and his wife, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Connie Schultz, texted each other a running critique of the candidates.
This was not just another politically engaged couple talking about the 2020 race.
“You can’t help but think, ‘I could have done that better,’” Mr. Brown recalled in an interview.(....)
He confessed that he was “wistful from time to time” about his choice not to enter the presidential primary, which he had looked at while fresh off his re-election in 2018 in a state President Trump carried. Many people besides senators continue to say they wish he were a candidate as well.
It suggests that despite the enormous field of 24 hopefuls, some Democrats still seek a Goldilocks candidate, someone perhaps like Mr. Brown, with a solid progressive record and a proven appeal to the Midwest working class.
As other leaders in the race sprint left on ending private health insurance and decriminalizing border crossings, centrist Democrats are deeply anxious the party will pick a nominee unpalatable to the independent voters in battleground states they need to defeat Mr. Trump.
He was the only Ohio Democrat to win statewide in the midterms, prevailing by 7 percentage points in a state that was once a presidential battleground but is drifting out of Democrats’ reach. Mr. Trump won there by 8 points.
Despite being a noncandidate, Mr. Brown seemed to make a shadow campaign swing this month. He addressed two of his party’s core constituencies -- grass-roots progressives in Philadelphia and organized labor in Pittsburgh -- while also squeezing in a trip to the southwestern border to take on Mr. Trump over the most torrid issue of the 2020 race, immigration.
At the Pennsylvania Convention Center, where 3,000 liberal activists gathered for Netroots Nation on a recent weekend, Mr. Brown was the warm-up act for the group he had decided not to join, a forum of 2020 candidates including Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand and the former housing secretary Julián Castro.
“Populism is never racist,” Mr. Brown told the receptive crowd. “Populism is never anti-Semitic. Populism doesn’t appeal to some by pushing others down.”
Are you sure? Gabriel didn’t get into the controversial topics raised at Netroots Nation, including the idea that Zionist Jews control the mainstream media. Meanwhile, conservative gatherings are aggressively screened by the paper for any hints of past "racism."
Gabriel raised concerns about Democrats becoming the party of “open borders,” but let Brown off the hook:
Asked about decriminalizing illegal entry into the country, an issue embraced by some 2020 candidates that exposes Democrats to charges of being for “open borders,” Mr. Brown said that he was no expert. “I don’t work on immigration issues every day,” he said. “This is an important part of our country, I wanted to know more about this issue.”
Earlier, he had pitched a squishy baseball to two young boys taking batting practice in the shelter’s nursery. Ms. Schultz picked up a 10-month-old baby named Herman in a green onesie. His mother, crayoning in a coloring book, was awaiting a bus ticket to join relatives in Iowa.
“I could just stay here and babysit,” Ms. Schultz said happily.
In November 2018, reporter Sydney Ember was also enthusiastic for a Brown presidential run in a front-page story, “Senator With Ohio Sensibility May Be Democrats’ 2020 Star.” The online headline: “Sherrod Brown: Rumpled, Unvarnished and Just Maybe a Candidate for President.” Ugh. She gushed: “Mr. Brown projects a grizzled authenticity that endears his brand of progressivism to even some conservative voters.”