A lot of people have announced they're running, they're not running and whatnot over the last couple days, so I figured I'd offer a complete rundown of the way things currently stand. Every time one of these guys announces or drops out from now until November 2008, I'll offer an update and some snide remarks. It's what I do.
This first edition of my 2008 presidential campaign bloviating even includes a bit of news that I believe I am breaking, regarding the allegedly independent Draft Condi movement. Read On!
Evan Bayh – OUT
With the luminous stars of Clinton and Obama, Bayh became the first person to say “I’m running” and then say “Never mind.” Probably for the best. Bayh’s positions are almost the exact equivalent of moderate, pro-war Hillary Clinton. He would have had difficulty stepping out of the shadow.
Joe Biden — IN
Biden has lusted after the presidency since … well, ever. His lengthy and often flip-floppy record in the senate will likely be used against him, though, and even if he wins the primary, he’ll come out of it horribly bloodied, easy pickings for the GOP vultures. More than likely, he’ll get creamed in the primary, though.
Wes Clark – MAYBE
Clark’s WesPAC has been hugely successful thus far, and Clark is one of the few Democrats outside of Congress who may take a run. Given the mediocre history of presidential candidates from Congress, Clark’s almost definitely in. I especially give a thumbs up for Clark’s long-term view. He’s the only candidate on either side talking about America in 100 years, and planning accordingly for deficit reduction and global climate change. That sort of expansive, we-have-a-destiny stuff is what got Kennedy elected — well, that and a little electioneering in Illinois. But I digress. (PROBABLY IN)
Hillary Clinton – MAYBE
I hesitated to even call her a maybe — she’s 99.9% likely to run, despite not announcing anything. Can’t say I’m the biggest fan — her maddening obstinacy in sticking by the Iraq War Resolution certainly gets eyerolls, despite the fact that you’ve got to give her credit for sticking to her guns. While she seems to be the frontrunner, she’s got major issues — Republicans hate her and say she’s too liberal. But because of the aforementioned war stance, along with her Clintonian (meaning her husband) tendency to support free trade issues like NAFTA, she’s equally hated by the left. In other words, she’s exactly the sort of frontrunner who’s likely to get upset by primary voters who are concerned about her conservatism, her electability or some combination thereof. (PROBABLY IN)
Christopher Dodd – MAYBE
Dodd’s mealymouthed position on Iraq — similar to Vilsack’s — along with his ho-hum take on issues ranging from education to healthcare to jobs makes him a wallflower in this campaign. That said, he raised a million dollars at his first fundraiser and probably has no intention of dropping out before election season really gets underway in 2008 (PROBABLY IN)
John Edwards – IN
He hasn’t announced yet, but Edwards has spent pretty much the whole time since 2004 working on his 2008 bid for the presidency. He’s as charming and good-looking as ever, and he’s honed his populist message about the two Americas and all that. His committee has raised a good amount of money, and he’s undoubtedly a top-tier candidate — despite little political experience and a losing V-P bid in the last election.
Russ Feingold – OUT
Despite the protestations of the left, many of whom – like me – love the guy’s positions and his tenacious attitude, he ruled out a presidential run soon after the 2006 election
Al Gore – MAYBE
Gore’s metamorphosis from stiff, suited automaton to folksy, funny prophet of the coming global warming crisis has been great to see, but his possible run at the presidency is likely so much wishful thinking. One of Gore’s most oft-used jokes is that he’s a “recovering politician,” and he’s still recycling that one at current speeches. He has no exploratory committee, and hasn’t said he’ll run. (PROBABLY OUT)
Mike Gravel — IN
Who? Mike Gravel, who last held elected office as a senator from Alaska in 1981 — 25 freaking years ago — is definitely in the running, and he definitely hasn’t a shot in hell. He’s a righteous guy who supports ending the war in Iraq and famously went toe-to-toe with Nixon throughout the 1970s, but he’s the darkest horse in the race.
John Kerry – MAYBE
Kerry had his own Allen-esque macaca moment in the 2006 campaign, when he told that hilarious joke about getting an education or getting stuck in Iraq. Yeah, yeah. I get it. He meant to say you need an education or you “get us stuck in Iraq,” thus swiping at the president, not the troops. But that doesn’t matter. This is politics, perception is everything, and Kerry’s DOA. He’s been a great fundraiser, though, and he’ll probably rely on that to carry him through the primaries. (PROBABLY IN)
Dennis Kucinich — IN
I love Dennis Kucinich — he’s for universal healthcare, an end to the Iraq War, withdrawing America from the WTO and NAFTA, repeal of the Patriot Act, the abolishment of mandatory minimum sentencing, marijuana decriminalization, full social security at age 65, energy independence relying on clean, renewable energy and so on and so on — basically, he’s for just about everything I’m for. Given that, I’d say he doesn’t stand a chance in hell.
Barack Obama – MAYBE
Despite my hesitation in supporting what currently appears to be the flavor of the month, Obama’s positions on Iraq and Darfur are righteous. Between him and Clinton, second-tier candidate Bayh has already dropped out, and others will likely follow down the line. Which makes it all the more likely that Obama will run. (PROBABLY IN)
Bill Richardson – IN
Richardson’s talked a lot of talk, but he’s yet to make any serious headway. He’s been a perennial short-lister for vice president, supposedly on both Al Gore and John Kerry’s lists. This presidential bid may very well secure him a place on the V-P slot for ’08.
Tom Vilsack — IN
Vilsack declared his candidacy last night on the Daily Show, and now has pages up at YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, DailyKos and MyDD. Any wonder who he’s targeting? Basically, given these indications, he’s aiming for voters like me — young, politically aware, somewhat cynical and deeply net-rooted. Why he’s aiming for us is beyond me. Most of us probably see his aw-shucks persona as a little hokey — I know I do. Vilsack’s Web site also features an open letter to John McCain — the obvious GOP frontrunner — questioning McCain’s position of more troops for Iraq. That said, Vilsack doesn’t state what his own position on Iraq would be if elected — which I find troubling, to say the least. In fact, Vilsack supports withdrawing to northern Iraq, which really isn’t enough for me. It seems like a way of pacifying the antiwar crowd while still keeping us drenched in blood.
Mark Warner – MAYBE
Warner originally said he wasn’t running, but has moved back into the maybes after rescinding that position a few days ago. That said, it’s probably just a bit of buyer’s remorse – or non-buyer’s remorse, more accurately. (PROBABLY OUT)
George Allen – OUT
After a macaca-laden ’06 senate campaign, Allen’s rising star has exploded into a glorious firework display of shattered dreams
Sam Brownback – IN
Christian conservatives love him, but I think that, as the race progresses, he’ll lose a lot of ground to Mike Huckabee.
Jeb Bush – OUT
Our governor, Jerky McLargeHead (childish, I know -- but then, so is he) has announced he has no plans to run, and has no exploratory committee.
Bill Frist – OUT
He saw the writing on the wall and announced his retirement from the senate before it went Democrat, but Frist still came out looking like a loser. Between his idiocy during the Terri Schiavo fiasco, his asking a photographer to “get some devastation in the back” when touring tsunami-ravaged Asia, and going from Senate Majority Leader to out of the senate, even Frist knew he was done.
Jim Gilmore – MAYBE
Who? Yeah, the former Governor of Virginia, who lost that position to possible Democratic candidate Mark Warner, has been seen popping around the early primary states, and a “Draft Gilmore” movement has begun. After taking a look at the odds, I imagine Gilmore will take a powder (PROBABLY OUT)
Newt Gingrich – MAYBE
This toad-faced little bastard is only flirting with a presidential run because he has a book to hawk. If he does run, I’ll eat my shorts — and then do everything in my power to make sure he goes down in flames. Between his recent statements that free speech should be curtailed to fight terrorism, and the fact that he’s largely responsible for the massive partisan divide of modern America, Gingrich deserves to be tarred, feathered and banished to Antarctica, not enshrined in the White House. (PROBABLY OUT)
Rudy Giuliani – IN
Pro-gay, pro choice, twice-divorced New Yorker who announced his separation from his second wife via a press conference without informing her first? How he intends to survive the Republican primary is beyond me. With McCain in the race, name recognition is not enough. And with his “America’s Mayor” sobriquet, the only other thing Giuliani’s got is 9/11 — and using that to get elected without looking like you’re, well, using 9/11 to get elected, will prove difficult.
Chuck Hagel – MAYBE
Hagel’s open criticism of his own party, particularly in regard to the Iraq War, has made him a big deal to independents and even Democrats – in his home state of Nebraska, the senator enjoys higher approval ratings among Democrats than Republicans. That’s great in a general election, but unless Republican primary voters rally around the idea of “electability,” it won’t get Hagel a win. Besides, the electability crowd will probably flock to McCain. Hagel’s smart enough to figure that out. A McCain/Hagel ticket could be a direct path to the White House, but Hagel should be well aware that he takes second place to McCain in a direct shootout (PROBABLY OUT)
Mike Huckabee – MAYBE
A former Baptist minister, Huckabee is a much-loved potential candidate among the religious right. But Sen. Sam Brownback has been one step ahead of Huckabee all the way down the line. Brownback expressed interest first, formed an exploratory committee first and has announced his candidacy — unlike Huckabee. That said, Huckabee can draw from the religious right while at the same time courting more middle-of-the-road voters – unlike Brownback, who has very little cachet outside of the megachurches. (PROBABLY IN)
Duncan Hunter – IN
Archconservative Hunter announced his candidacy a week before the midterms. A military-can-do-no-wrong type who once complained that Congress was spending too much time investigating torture at Abu Ghraib and accused CNN of airing “enemy propaganda,” Hunter is a one-note candidate who stresses national security above all things. His PAC, the Orwellianly named Peace Through Strength PAC (why not just cut to the chase and call it the War Is Peace PAC?), says it all. He should be a helluva lot of fun to watch.
John McCain – IN
He’ll likely make an official announcement in February, but it’s a done deal. In fact, the primary could already be a done deal. Unless opposition to the Iraq insanity grows, and McCain continues to call for more troops to be thrown into the meatgrinder, he’ll probably win. That said, McCain has remained inflexible in his views so far, and opposition to the war has only grown with time. By 2008, history could very well have passed the senator by. However, despite his habit of toeing the line whenever the party needs him to, McCain still enjoys that maverick status among voters who may be a little less informed of his record. That could pay off big.
George Pataki – MAYBE
Sorry, George. There might be room enough in the primary for one moderate Republican from New York, but certainly not two. Besides, New York is madly in love with governor-elect Eliot Spitzer (a very likely future presidential candidate, I might add). Pataki’s yesterday’s news. (PROBABLY OUT)
Mike Pence – MAYBE
Far-right representative Mike Pence has often been hailed as a possible candidate, but that was before the 2006 elections. As it stands, Pence will probably be content to focus on his career in the House for now, despite his upstart bid for House Minority Leader being quashed by John Boehner, 168-27-1. (PROBABLY OUT)
Condolezza Rice – MAYBE
Despite her own protestations, it’s pretty likely Condi will run. Why? Well, here’s a bit of news that, I believe, Doomed Generation is the first to report – at the very least, I put two and two together on my own. The supposedly independent Americans for Dr. Rice, which has raised a good amount of money in a Draft Condi campaign, is located in the same building — 601 Pennsylvania Ave., just a few blocks from Condi’s boss’ house — as the National Black Republican Association … oh, scratch that. It’s even located in the same space, Suite 900. Major organizations setting up fronts for the Sec. Of State is tantamount to her setting up an exploratory committee. The Hill didn't report this in its piece on the Draft Condi movement, so I'm claiming world exclusive coverage and demanding my Pulitzer. Excelsior! (PROBABLY IN)
Mitt Romney – MAYBE
Way too much baggage. First, right or wrong, many Americans see Mormonism as, well, kooky. And besides, Romney may talk the talk now, but he wasn’t doing it 12 years ago, when he disavowed Reagan during a senate debate with Ted Kennedy. And good for him – Reagan was a snake-oil salesman whose legacy is unbridled debt, belligerent jingoism, the destruction of S&Ls and the foul stench of Iran-Contra. But that statement alone – much less Romney’s pro-choice and pro-gay rights statements – will doom him, and he knows it. You don’t dis Saint Reagan and then run for president on the Republican ticket. You can be a dry-drunk ex-cokehead with a heart full of hate and a brain full of nothing, but do not talk shit about Ronnie. That said, he’ll still run. He just won’t make it far. (PROBABLY IN)
Mark Sanford – OUT
Fort Lauderdale native, Governor of South Carolina, and subject of a Draft Mark movement, Sanford decided the wind wasn’t blowing his way.
Rick Santorum – OUT
Santorum’s defeat in the senate race pretty much destroyed his presidential aspirations
John Sununu – MAYBE
Sununu's speculated about running for president, but he's vulnerable in 2008 senate race — New Hampshire's two Republican congressmen lost to Democrats in 2006, and Sununu won by a thin margin in 2002, a pro-Republican year. In fact, he’s likely only in office today because of the phone-bank scandal. Given this, the Dems will target Sununu’s senate seat heavily in 2008. In any case, 2008 looks like it’ll probably be as bad for the GOP as 2006, especially if the Dem. Congress gets some stuff done in the ensuing years. Sununu’s presidential bid will probably go down like New Mexico Republican Rep. Heather Wilson's senate dreams in this year’s election. Wilson was an early pick to run against Jeff Bingaman for senator, but the Dems offered strong opposition in her House district, forcing her to defend her home turf instead of go on the offensive. (PROBABLY OUT)
Tom Tancredo – MAYBE
Although Tancredo’s “third-world country” comment didn’t earn him a lot of love down here, to xenophobic conservatives in the Heartland, it sounded like the finest rendition of “Dueling Banjos” they’d ever heard. The congressman’s comments have helped him, not hurt him. (PROBABLY IN)
Tommy Thompson – IN
Thompson filed papers to establish an exploratory committee last Friday. Nuff said. (PROBABLY IN)
On the Democratic side, I think it comes down to Clark, Clinton, Edwards or Obama. I wish I could stick Kucinich in there, but I don't see any way he could do it. The world is not ready for the little big man.
On the Republican side, it's either Giuliani, Huckabee, McCain or Tancredo. ... OK, OK. Maybe not Tancredo. There's just not that many xenophobes out there.
Tom Tancredo, whose base just isn't big enough ... I hope
And, now that I think about it, there's just no way conservatives will go for Giuliani.
A message to you, Rudy — You're screwed
So, basically, it comes down to Huckabee or McCain, and ... ah, who am I kiddin'? It's McCain all the way.
"Fightin' John" McCain, alleged 2008 Republican presidential nominee