It always is difficult to handicap the next Presidential election before the mid-term elections. So I will not go through the litany of the half dozen Democrats, including Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, who may contest for the nomination. The views range from Hillary has got it in the bag to Hillary won’t run.
Democratic Party sentiment is said to range from ready for another Clinton Era to fear of another Clinton Era; from the Party wants a familiar face (Hillary) to the Party seeks a totally new face (former Governor Mark R. Warner of Virginia). Hillary is a polarizing figure, no doubt. In the end, however, the nomination seems almost certain to be hers if she pursues it. If she is the nominee Republicans either are scared to death of her and don’t know to how to run against her or they can’t wait for the chance to take her on, pointing to the considerable political baggage she has inherited. One clearly hears both views.
On the Republican side there are no less than thirteen candidates who think they have a chance. These include sitting and retiring Governors, sitting and retiring Senators and maybe even a General. The Democrats have a General, too. He is Wesley Clark but he went nowhere in 2004. Some of these candidates, such as Governor Michael Huckabee, of Hope, Arkansas, in fact may be running for Vice President without saying so. In fact, I only recall one candidate who openly ran and campaigned for the Vice Presidency. He was an obscure Alaska Democratic Senator who got absolutely nowhere with his effort to win the Vice Presidency.
While Democrats have an obvious frontrunner with Hillary Republicans have none. Florida Governor Jeb Bush would be the front runner if he had not all but absolutely ruled out running. No Senator or Governor is a hot ticket right now, except for one, John S. McCain, III. McCain is consolidating his position in a way reminiscent of Richard M. Nixon in 1968. He is collecting due bills. He campaigned for all sorts of Congressmen and Senators in 2002 and 2004. He is letting them know that now is the time to express their gratitude. Dick Morris, Bill Clinton’s strategist, who is pushing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for President, had an on-the-air colloquy with Sean Hannity the other day, which most of the audience didn’t understand. Morris was telling Hannity that he knew of a certain Senator who was very close to endorsing McCain. Hannity asked Morris if it was the Senator he had in mind. Morris said it was. Hannity said he didn’t believe it.