Robert Novak

 Talking to some of them, I found concern that Hillary carries too much baggage from her turbulent marriage and her husband's presidency to do any better than John Kerry did last year. One female office holder was looking hard for another Southern moderate who could bite into the Confederacy as Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton had done.

 Another woman office holder was hostile to a Clinton candidacy on a more personal basis. "Don't think that Hillary has the women's vote," she told me. "I will never forgive her for sticking with her husband after he humiliated her. It's something I can't get over."

 Eight Democrats, no matter how prominent, constitute a tiny sample. But I checked with Democratic sources in California and found broad early resistance to Clinton. Warner wowed listeners on a recent trip, though he was not as big a hit as Bayh on his L.A. sojourn. The Hoosier senator may be a dull, moderate Midwesterner to the party cognoscenti who already have bestowed the nomination on Clinton, but he looked like a winner to the Hollywood crowd.

 These anti-Clinton Democrats are not reassured by what Republican National Chairman Ken Mehlman said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press." Moderator Tim Russert asked: "Do you think that Sen. Clinton would be a formidable presidential candidate?" "I do," Mehlman replied, adding: "Sen. Clinton is smart. She's effective." As Mehlman himself said, Republicans don't want to repeat the 1980 mistake of the Democrats when they relished the nomination of Ronald Reagan as an easy mark.

 Nevertheless, in private, Republicans say they would much rather run against Hillary Clinton, who votes a straight liberal line, than an unknown moderate from Virginia or Indiana. Savvy Democrats in Los Angeles agree.

Robert Novak

Robert Novak (1931-2009) was a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.

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