John McCaslin

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean already is looking beyond tomorrow's presidential primary in New Hampshire to the meat of the 2008 presidential campaign, charging that Republicans will resort to "every scam they think up to suppress the vote."

How so?

In the past, Mr. Dean rattled off, Republicans have "jammed" the phones Democrats used for getting out the vote, "purged voters" from precinct rolls and "abused robo-calls."

A "robo-call," we had to look up, is jargon for automated telephone calls with recorded messages that always seem to ring at the worst possible time, usually the dinner hour. This columnist hereby grants permission in writing to both political parties to abuse, mistreat, jam, suppress, oppress or erase any robo-calls aimed at my house.

Hillary: The Movie

The much-anticipated "Hillary: The Movie" was not slated for national debut until Jan. 14 in Washington, but now Citizens United Productions says it will offer a sneak peek of the documentary today to the people of New Hampshire at a Concord movie theater.

"Senator Barack Obama may not know what he's up against, but will soon find out," said film producer David Bossie, president of Citizens United. "After the [Clinton] loss in Iowa, there will be no holding them back now."

Dan the pundit

Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather surfaced long enough yesterday on "The Chris Matthews Show" to opine that "Bill Clinton has been appearing too often" at Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign stops.

To the extent, he said, that "inside the Clinton camp they're bound to be having an argument about 'Let's pull him back a bit, have him not be everywhere all of the time.' So I think you'll see less of Bill Clinton on the Hillary Clinton campaign trail."

Win with seven?

By day, Bill Arnone is behind his desk at Ernst & Young in New York, responsible for the design, management and marketing of retirement and financial counseling in employer-sponsored programs. When it comes to retirement planning, Bill's the guy to call.

But say you're curious about the 2008 presidential election, intrigued by the strong showings in Iowa last week of two relative newcomers to the political spotlight. What's likely to follow in the weeks and months beyond, leading up to November?

Mr. Arnone might have that answer, too, given that his hobby, he told Inside the Beltway, is politics. (OK, he's also a Democratic activist, but let's not hold that against him.) While it may or may not be a precursor to Election Day, Mr. Arnone has crafted a "lightened-up look at American presidential elections from an unusual perspective."

"What's in a name?" he began, saying that when selecting nominees, Democrats and Republicans "should be mindful of the potential impact of a factor rarely considered by political scientists and strategists: The number of syllables in the combined names of the ticket's candidates."

The bottom line: "No ticket with a total of more than six syllables has been successful in presidential elections. Indeed, as a rule, the ticket with the fewer number of total syllables wins."

Consider in 2004 when the three-syllable ticket "Bush-Cheney" defeated the four-syllable slate "Kerry-Edwards." In 2000, the same three-syllables beat the four-syllable offering of "Gore-Lieberman."

Yes, the "Clinton-Gore" win over "Dole-Kemp" in 1996 was one of the few exceptions. (One could argue that the candidacy of "Perot" indirectly added two syllables to the Republican ticket and drained votes away. Ditto with "Bush-Quayle" in 1992).

Otherwise, the five-syllable "Dukakis-Bentsen" ticket had no chance in 1988, nor did the five-syllable 1984 Democratic ticket of "Mondale-Ferraro" against the three-syllable "Reagan-Bush," which also triumphed in 1980 against the four-syllable "Carter-Mondale."

So what does this mean, if anything, for the prospects of both parties in 2008?

The way Mr. Arnone sees it, Sen. Hillary Rodham "Clinton's" two syllables make her teaming with any Democratic candidates a "syllabic safe choice." Republicans have more potential problems.

"A four-syllable 'Giuliani' on the ticket creates a serious challenge," he warned. "A Giuliani-Huckabee ticket, for example, would need to do what no other presidential ticket in American history has ever done: Win with seven syllables."

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

Be the first to read John McCaslin's column. Sign up today and receive delivered each morning to your inbox.