|From the many presidential prospects only one, with the right mix of experience, ability (including fundraising ability), temperament, philosophy, leadership style, and luck will emerge from the long campaign as his or her party's nominee. It's going to be crowded for a while, however.|
|Republicans | Democrats | Others||[Graphic: Dems | Reps]|
In 2005-06, about two dozen Democratic and Republican officials candidates drew the bulk of media speculation as possible presidential candidates (there were a couple of longshot declared candidates as well). In this pre-campaign period some prospects were quite active and others kept a lower profile.
The 2006 mid-term elections clarified the political landscape. By the end of January 2007 the field of Democratic and Republican candidates had largely taken shape. With one exception, all of the "major" candidates had either formed exploratory committees or formally launched their campaigns. At least seven individuals considered as prospects announced they would not run (Warner, Feingold, Frist, Daschle, Bayh, Keating and Kerry; Pataki, didn't make a firm announcement but faded into the private sector). There remained several prospects who might possibly enter the race (Democrats Gore and Clark, Republican F.Thompson, Bloomberg as an Independent, and Nader), and indeed there has been at one "late entrant." Those who are running have built their campaign teams, including staff, advisors, and consultants, both nationally and in key states, and are working to raise the millions of dollars necessary to run a national campaign.
If elected, each of these individuals would bring different experience, temperament, leadership style, and political philosophy to the Oval Office. Each has strengths and weakness, some of which will become evident during the course of the long campaign.
An effective campaign organization highlights the positive traits and downplays or obscures the shortcomings. Voters' challenge is to cut through all the rhetoric, staging, and negative ads and determine which of the candidates they believe is most qualified to lead the United States for the next four years. The question of electability also enters into voters' calculations. In 2008, after over a year on the campaign trail, two candidates will emerge as their parties' nominees.
In recent years governors' offices seem to be the most reliable route to the White House. Four of the past five presidents have served as governors (Bush, Clinton, Reagan and Carter). Governors and former governors mentioned as presidential prospects included Democrats Vilsack, Richardson and Warner (decided against) and Republicans Huckabee, Pataki (decided against), Romney, T.Thompson and Gilmore. Governors can point to their executive experience and can also present themselves as "outside the Beltway" candidates.
Many current and former U.S. Senators are running or have weighed a run. On the Democratic side, the list has included seven current U.S. Senators--Bayh (decided against), Biden, Clinton, Dodd, Feingold (decided against), Kerry (decided against) and Obama and three former Senators--Daschle (decided against), Edwards, and Gravel. Six Republican Senators--Allen (decided against), Brownback, Frist (decided against), Hagel and McCain and one former Senator--F.Thompson were mentioned.
Several U.S. House members are in the running: Kucinich (D-OH), Hunter (R-CA), Paul (R-TX) and Tancredo (R-CO).
Other candidates and possible candidates bring different experience: former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R), former Vice President Al Gore (D-TN), Gen. Wesley Clark (ret.) (D) and New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg (I).
Another practical distinction to consider in reviewing the field of candidates is those who have day jobs and those who do not. Senators and Congressmen must be mindful of key votes and of not missing too many votes (see Absent Congress - A Project of the American Conservative Student Union). Similarly, the only active governor in the race, New Mexico Democrat Bill Richardson, had to stay fairly close at hand while the state legislature was in session (legislative session is Jan. 16-Mar. 17, 2007).
If past is a guide, candidates from the Libertarian, Green and Constitution parties will have little impact on the 2008 general election. However, observers have posited various scenarios wherein a credible independent candidate could pose a challenge to the major party candidates. New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg is probably most frequently mentioned in this context. Additionally the Unity08 campaign has attracted some attention. The group, launched in May 2006, forsees building "a solidly-funded movement" of millions of Americans that will "take our country back from polarizing politics." "In 2008, we'll select and elect a Unity Ticket to the White House--one Democrat, one Republican, in whatever order, or independents committed to a Unity team," the Unity08 website declares.
This is a High Spin Zone
|Copyright © 2006, 2007, 2008 Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action||