Lots of folks are commenting on the Presidential candidates these days. I figured it was my turn. Why not? I have seen the candidates up close as much as any of those who have shot from the hip. Since I have arthritis in my hips, I figure my comments will be even more caustic than those of former Speaker Newt Gingrich.
First, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY). She is the front runner, which is dangerous. Do you remember when William J. (Bill) Clinton, with Hillary advising him, would come out on top and then blow it? It was only when Clinton was the underdog that things went well. This is a dangerous time for Hillary because things are going too well.
Second, former Vice President Albert A. (Al) Gore, Jr. I mention him because he recently won the Nobel Peace Prize. He is not a candidate but until he publicly states that he would not accept a draft his name will continue to float. There are people who want to draft Gore, which could be Hillary’s worst nightmare.
Third, Senator Barack H. Obama (D-IL). He is young and exciting. Unfortunately, his youthfulness translates to inexperience. Is it too early for him?
Fourth, Former Senator John R. Edwards (D-NC). Why he has remained competitive in Iowa but nowhere else remains a mystery. Maybe Iowans envy $400 haircuts on the prairie.
Fifth, Governor Bill Richardson (D-NM). He is the Hispanic candidate, which is why he remains in contention, more likely for Vice President than for President.
Sixth, Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE). Why he remains a candidate is unclear. Many think he would like to be Secretary of State in Hillary’s Administration.
Now for the Republicans:
First, Rudolph W. (Rudy) Giuliani, the “Nation’s Mayor.” If Republicans were electing a national mayor Giuliani would be a shoo-in. Yes, he is leading nationally but he is behind in the first four primaries.
Second, Fred D. Thompson. Never in modern politics has there been a greater buildup and never has there been a greater letdown. Thompson has been everyone’s hope in the lead up to his campaign but now everyone’s fear as he has proved to be less than expected.
Third, former Governor Mitt Romney. If he had not flip-flopped and were not a Mormon he would be the ideal candidate. He yet may be. He looks and sounds like a President. As time continues folks seem to be forgetting about his flip-flopping but his religion is alive and well in the south. There is an effort to gather Evangelical leaders with Romney. We will see if that helps with folks who insist that Mormonism is a cult.
Fourth, Senator John S. McCain, III (D-AZ). He was the front runner but did himself in. Supposedly his campaign is coming back, which I doubt. McCain-Feingold won’t be forgiven by conservatives. His campaign is teetering. His chances are slim-to-none even if he wins New Hampshire.
Fifth, former Governor Mike Huckabee. He is a brilliant orator who has parlayed a second-place finish in the Ames Iowa Straw Poll into near first-tier status. He would be doing better if he did not have a penchant for saying the wrong things, thus making enemies of potential friends.
There remain two others, further on the sidelines.
Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO). I hate to say this but he really doesn’t belong on that debate stage. He speaks well and takes positions which Republicans should be taking. His former chairmanship of the Armed Services Committee gives him a national platform but not a national organization or the ability to raise money. He is fading from the scene.
Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX). It is too bad some of the ideas he advocates are strange because many of the things he says makes sense. Because he is a Libertarian he has enough money to stay around for a time. His overall showing is the major surprise of the political season.
The upshot is that none of the GOP candidates, except perhaps Romney, is really exciting to at least a portion of the grassroots. At this stage, that is not good news for a party which will have trouble winning anyway.
Among the Democratic candidates, the fact that many people, including former President Jimmy Carter, are urging Gore to run is also an indication that not all is sanguine on the Democratic side. Should Gore succumb to a draft it would be bad news for the Republicans. They might defeat Clinton because she is such a polarizing figure. Gore, who in 2000 won the most number of popular votes by one half million, would be very difficult to defeat. Many believe he was cheated out of his last race. That would give him an emotional edge this time. We shall see.