by John Hawkins | December 4, 2002 3:10 am
Evaluating The Democratic Candidates For President In 2004: I punched a breakdown of the possible contenders on the Democratic side for the biggest prize in politics. I covered the top dogs, the dark horses, and even the ultra-long shots. Here’s the breakdown….
Hillary Clinton: Honestly, I think Hillary could win the Democratic nomination if she decided to run. But winning the Presidency? That’s another matter. Although she has been tarred by her husband’s high negatives, she does not have his charisma. Moreover, I do think she’d have trouble pulling in the swing vote while on the other hand, the possibility of another Clinton getting into the White House would probably result in massive turnout from the Conservative base who detest her. That being said, I doubt if Hillary will run in 2004 unless Bush’s popularity plunges. But in 2008 — look for Hill to get in the game.
Tom Daschle: Now viewed by many Democrats as a wishy-washy loser who couldn’t hold on to the Senate, Daschle has no chance of taking the nomination.
Gray Davis: There was a lot of talk about Davis as a candidate back in 2000 but now? Davis has titanic negatives in his own state and barely beat personality free political novice Bill Simon in the 2002 elections. I don’t see Davis even bothering to throw his hat in the ring at this point.
Howard Dean: There are a lot of diehard Howard Dean fans out there on the left who’d love to see this relatively unknown Vermont Governor get the nomination. However, he’s really not a great candidate. When I caught him on Hannity and Colmes one of the things he was really pushing was getting rid of the Bush tax cut so government could provide “more services”. I can just see the “tax and spend liberal” commercials now. I just don’t see Dean can winning a national election by plugging less tax breaks and more government services.
John Edwards: I’m from North Carolina so I’ve gotten a chance to see a lot of John Edwards and I can’t say that I’m impressed. He’s another one of these dark horse candidates some Democrats like because women think he’s attractive and he has a decent personality. But he hasn’t been particularly impressive in his talkshow appearances and he’s not even that popular here in North Carolina. The last poll I saw showed Bush beating Edwards comfortably here and despite the fact that Edwards campaigned hard for Erskine Bowles, Elizabeth Dole still cleaned Bowles’ clock. I really can’t see Edwards winning a national election, but I think he might get serious consideration as a vice-presidential candidate if someone other than Gore wins.
Diane Feinstein: There was some noise being made about ultra-lefty Diane Feinstein tossing her hat the ring but it doesn’t look like she’s going to take the plunge. Maybe they finally polled somewhere other than California, New York, and Massachusetts and found out her numbers weren’t so great among people who didn’t view themselves as ultra-liberals.
Dick Gephardt: Everything I said about Daschle applies to Gephardt except moreso. Worse yet, Gephardt really irritated the Democratic base by coming out strongly for the invasion of Iraq. I can’t imagine how Gephardt could possibly win the nomination. I wouldn’t even bother trying at this point if I were him.
Al Gore: Gore is way out ahead of the competition, but his support is very soft and it’s getting softer as Gore flip-flops on the issues. Recently Gore changed his position on the war in Iraq (he’s now against it), he came out for nationalized health care after ripping Bill Bradley for supporting it in 2000, and Gore and his wife have been endlessly whining to the press about how they think Gore won the 2000 election. That sort of carping isn’t exactly Presidential. Combine all of that with Gore’s monotonous speech patterns and the perception that he’ll say ANYTHING to become President and Gore looks like a stone cold loser in 2004. After all, if he couldn’t beat Bush in 2000 when Gore was much politically much stronger after having spent 8 years in the public eye and Bush was much weaker, how can Gore possibly pull it off in 2004 unless Bush completely collapses? Gore isn’t a great candidate and most Democrats know it — but he’ll probably get the nod anyway.
Gary Hart: After 8 years of Clinton, running around with Donna Rice doesn’t like such a big deal anymore. But Gary Hart missed his chance in 1988 and really don’t see him coming out of mothballs to win the primaries, much less the election. If Hart throws his hat in the ring I don’t see him going very far.
John Kerry: Kerry is getting a lot of favorable attention of late because women think he’s good looking and he has nice hair, and more importantly because he’s a war hero. Democrats love to run candidates with military experience since they believe it helps distract people from the inept bungling that passes for foreign policy on the left. But Kerry is not exactly charismatic — nor is he particularly interesting. In fact, Kerry was almost universally savaged by the left and the right after multiple TV appearances this week-end. The fact that Kerry, a guy that even many Democrats don’t think is likable, is considered the #2 candidate in the field for the Democrats is a bad sign.
Joseph Lieberman: Supposedly, Lieberman isn’t going to run if Gore does, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him enter the frey anyway. Unfortunately for Lieberman, he’s viewed by much of the Democratic base as too Conservative, too pro-Israel, and too pro-war to be an acceptable Democratic candidate. Unfortunately for the Dems, Lieberman would probably give them their best chance to actually win in 2004 out of the candidates who are running, but I don’t see him getting out of the primaries. As a sidenote, if Gore wins the primaries, I don’t expect him to name Lieberman as his VP for his next run at the White House.
John McCain: This is a real long shot, but I wouldn’t put it past McCain to switch sides and run as a Democrat in 2004. That being said, McCain is too Conservative and Pro-War for the Democratic base and I can’t see the Dem’s candidate. Actually, McCain would be most dangerous and an independent because he might be able to siphon off enough votes to cost Bush the election.
Al Sharpton: Of course, Sharpton has no chance of winning the primaries. But he’s not running to win anyway. He is actually trying to squeeze out Jesse Jackson as the top power broker the Democratic party has to deal with to try to deliver the black vote. On the upside, Sharpton is such a loose cannon that I could see him doing something stupid that hurt the Democrats out of spite or because he didn’t think the party bosses were paying enough attention to him. So run Al, run!
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