He chaired the Armed Services Committee in the previous two Congresses and believes that the principal issue for the foreseeable future will be national security -- not just Iraq and terrorism, but also the rise of China's military (perhaps nine submarines under construction, with five more to come; the purchase of Russian-built destroyers designed to attack U.S. aircraft carriers with very fast and sophisticated missiles; upward of 800 medium-range ballistic missiles deployed). He believes U.S. forces can pacify Iraq, where his son served two tours as a Marine.
Asked what his wife said when he told her he was running for president, he pauses, then says, smiling: "She's happy now." She seems remarkably resilient. Not long after a wildfire consumed his house, he asked her, "Honey, can you do a fundraiser in two weeks?" She said, "Sure. My son is in Fallujah, my house has burned down, how many people do you want to invite?"
"God bless New Hampshire," Hunter says, noting that its population (1.3 million) is less than half that of San Diego County. But he almost certainly overestimates the power of retail politics in a nominating process that is becoming increasingly compressed. California, Illinois, New Jersey and Florida might move their primaries to Feb. 5. If they do, both parties' nominees might be known a year from now.
Hunter won what might have been the first contest of this presidential cycle -- the Maricopa County (Phoenix) straw poll. It's a start. He says he has $300,000 "in pledges," a sum that could be a rounding error in the McCain campaign's accounts. But he says, "I kind of know what I stand for" so "I don't need consultants, and that saves a lot of money." He has produced some commercials -- just talking to the camera -- for $200.
One-third of new businesses fail within two years; 50 percent to 70 percent of new products that make it to market fail. Hunter, a burly, rumpled political product seeking a market niche, probably will fail. But as Goldwater said when he entered politics in Phoenix in 1949, "It ain't for life and it may be fun."George Will's e-mail address is georgewill(at symbol)washpost.com. (c) 2007, Washington Post Writers Group
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