(CNN) – In the hypothetical battle of Elizabeth Warren vs. Hillary Clinton in 2016, one former Clinton opponent is putting his money on the former secretary of the state, but not without caveats.
On Wednesday’s “Crossfire,” 52% of viewers who responded to the show’s fireback question said they believe Warren could beat Clinton in a Democratic primary. Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who ran against Clinton (and Obama) in 2008 in the Democratic presidential primary, disagreed.
“I think they’re wrong. I think Hillary would win,” he said. “But (Hillary’s) biggest enemy…would be the inevitability factor. I hope she has some opposition, it can’t be a coronation.”
Richardson, who’s made clear that he’s not a member of the “Ready for Hillary” camp himself, noted that Warren has advantages over Clinton, beyond just the inevitability factor.
“If you’re contemplating a run against her, she is a centrist. So somebody like Elizabeth Warren, I don’t think she could beat her, but could mount a very strong campaign on this income inequality issue and especially in the early primaries,” Richardson said.
Still, despite his somewhat chilly relationship with the Clintons, Richardson says he thinks Hillary would be a strong candidate.
“I have had differences with Secretary Clinton because I endorsed Obama,” Richardson said. “I’m not in the suck up camp. I do recognize that she is formidable.”
Warren, a first-term senator from Massachusetts, has a large following among the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. She insists she’s not running for president but that hasn’t stopped outside groups from forming to support a potential campaign. Clinton, on the other hand, has said she will make a decision on a White House run early next year.
Former Minnesota governor and 2012 GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty outlined a split among the financial community's support for a prospective Clinton or Warren candidacy and the Republican nominee.
Pawlenty, who now serves as chairman of the Financial Services Roundtable, suggested a lack of political consensus among the traditionally Republican-friendly Wall Street community, saying "If you took a poll, you'd probably have a split. Some are Republican, some are Democrat."
But, Pawlenty added, the populist Sen. Warren would not be popular among bankers.
"Probably not many with Elizabeth Warren,” he said.
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