Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Road To Washington Weekly - July 5, 2006

While we spend most of our time focused on the Democrats and the Race for 2008 here in this column, there is a school of thought that says it's best to keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.

With that being said, this week's focus of The Road To Washington Weekly will be an opening look at the top contenders for the Republican Nominee in 2008.

So, everyone take a deep breath, whip off your single-party-focused-spectacles for a moment, and take an opportunity to look at what's brewing over on "the other side."

Obviously, the potential Republican candidate not only shapes the way a 2008 Election campaign may shake out, but also influences people's decisions with regard to the Democratic candidate, as well as the strategies and plans of action.

Here then, is my opinion of where the top Republican contenders fall for 2008 THUS FAR:

#1 - John McCain - I still believe that the Nomination is McCain's to lose. This is based on his strong Presidential campaigns he's run in the past, as well his appeal not only to Republican voters, but to Independents, and possibly even some very conservative Democrats (remember the rumors about Kerry choosing him as a VP candidate in '04). If McCain runs against a weak Democratic candidate, he could pull a significant number of those golden "Undecided" votes. Although McCain hasn't officially thrown his hat into the ring, I have to believe that this will be his last best chance to become the Republican nominee. He last faced re-election in 2004 at home, leaving him free to roam the country putting together support for '08. What's he got going against him? Beyond his politics, McCain will be 72 in 2008 - a factor that certainly will be considered by voters.

#2 - George Allen - Allen will be viewed by the Republican party as a more conservative alternative to McCain. He has polled very high in a lot of GOP straw polls, and he's already made several trips to Iowa and New Hampshire, although he will have to spend significant time in Virginia between now and 2006, as he faces a strong challenge from James Webb. If Webb wins the race in Virginia, Allen can probably count himself out of the race altogether. If Allen wins in November, however, he goes into the '08 race with a head of steam. He's also hired Dick Wadhams to run his campaign - Wadham is considered by those in the know to be the next Karl Rove (just so you've got him on your radar screen, as well.)

#3 - Rudy Giuliani - Rudy is so hard to place. He's the face of 9/11 and has an emotional place with many Republicans. He's got extremely high name recognition and polls just behind McCain in most GOP straw polls. He has incredible support right now, and if he enters the race, the GOP Primary will be a McCain V. Giuliani affiar, with the others battling for table scraps. Here's the problem I see for Giuliani - he can't and won't survive the GOP Primary. Given the conservative base, his positions on abortion, gay marriage, and gun control will obviously place easy targets on his back for his competitors. In a race where there will potentially be two front-runners, others lagging behind will do anything they can to knock one of them down a notch or twelve (reference Dick Wadhams above).

#4 - Mitt Romney - Although Romney was the CEO of the Salt Lake Olympics and is the current Governor of Massachusetts, he still doesn't have the broad name recognition of some of the other possible candidates. He's strict party line in terms of his stand on abortion, gay marriage, death penalty and the like. He's also a great potential candidate in that he's good-looking and VERY charismatic. What's his downside? Strategically, he obviously wouldn't carry Massachusetts in a Presidential bid, nor is he likley to sway many other New England states. Oh yeah.... He's a Mormon. And he's a Mormon. Oh, by the way, did I mention to all you Born-Again voters and Evangelicals that he's a Mormon? Yeah. He'll run a strong campaign, but it ain't gonna' happen.

#5 - Newt Gingrich - This is the man who put an end to Democratic leadership in Congress, so never count him out. Newt's political career is a fine example of one that will simply refuse to die. He's been particularly visible in Iowa, and has distanced himself from the Bush Administration, while still remaining a favorite of GOP loyalists. He speaks of the need for the GOP to adapt if it's going to protect its leadership, which may appeal to some on the Right. His two divorces, however, may not appeal to those very same people.

#6 - Condoleeza Rice - Condoleeza occupies the same sort of position in my Republican list as Al Gore does in my Democratic ranking. She has stated over and over again that she will not seek office in 2008. We all know, however, that these statements are virtually worthless until December 2008. Rice represents the nominee that the Republicn party wishes they were ready for - she's an African-American, a woman, and wildly popular in the polls in which she's included. The simple fact is that the Republican party is not ready to make this leap, and it's inmaterial, as I truly believe that she will not run in 2008. Worth keeping an eye on her, though.

#7 - Bill Frist - Some would argue that Bill Frist's latest Congressional agenda has less to do with addressing the Nation's business, and more to do with pandering to the Conservative base in preparation for a 2008 run. After watching him "diagnose" Terry Schiavo via videotape, however, as well as passing immigration reform that Republicans despise, as well as a whole host of other botched leadership opportunities, it's clear that Frist is going to give up his Seante seat following the 2006 elections, and fade away - for a few years anyway (See Newt Gingrich).

#8 - Chuck Hagel - Senator Hagel is an interesting potential nominee to watch. Sort of like a bright, shiny package that looks so promising on the outside, but then turns out to be full of nothing on the inside. To be clear, Hagel has about as much credibility within the Republican party as Joe Lieberman does within the Democratic party. Still, if it were possible for Hagel to simply skip over the GOP Primary and be "appointed" as the Republican nominee, he'd be very interesting. A vocal Bush Administration critic, Hagel was quoted as saying “To question your government is not unpatriotic — to not question your government is unpatriotic.” He has often sided with Democrats on issues, including Iraq and troop withdrawl, but this ultimately will sink him in any Primary he attempts to win.

#9 - Mike Huckabee - Huckabee not only has little name recognition. He also has little face recognition, even amongst those who used to know his face, thanks to his laudable weight loss and increased health. Still, Huckabee is an Arkansas Governor, and we all know where the last Arkansas Governor landed. If Huckabee can raise LOTS of money (doubtful) and hang in until one of the frontrunners trips and falls, he's got a chance.

#10 - Sam Brownback - If there were a potential candidate to match someone like Pat Robertson's campaign in 1998, it would almost certainly be Sam Brownback. A Senator from Kansas, Brownback is about as far to the Right as you can get on issues like abortion, gay rights, stem cell research, death penalty, and pornography. You need to know a little bit more about him? He converted to Roman Catholocism in 2002 with the help of his buddy, Rick Santorum. There's no doubt that he's going to run, and it's a shame that he won't become the nominee, so this nation could clearly engage in a referendum over the power of the Religious Right and social conservatism once and for all. Brownback would go down in flames, but he will never make it that far.

There... that wasn't so bad, was it? Just to take that taste of bile out of your mouth, here are a few stories about what the Democrats were doing this past week:

* Barack Obama gave a speech last week which caused a bit of controversy. At it's heart, he stated that Democrats "...make a mistake when we fail to acknowledge the power of faith in the lives of the American people." Many, however, misinterpreted the speech to suggest that Democrats attempt to "convert" the Religious Right.

* Al Gore is still
keeping his options open for a Presidential bid.

James Carville is convinced that Hillary can win. Of course he is. Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are allegedly conspiring to keep Hillary out of a press conference regarding her own legislation.

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Posted by FleshPresser at 3:15 PM /


  • Blogger Junebugg posted at 4:57 AM  
    BlogMad Hit

  • Anonymous guppyman posted at 3:54 PM  
    Just thought I'd give you a Conservative's perspective of the top of your list....

    John McCain will never be the Republican nomination.

    I can see him getting on the Democrat ticket though....

    Watch the straw polls a little more carefully.... McCain doesn't rate with people who actually vote.

    And here's a surprise for you...

    My Dream ticket right now puts Mitt Romney & Condi on the ticket...

    And I'm one of those Evangelical Born-Again right wing extremists....

    Newt is gonna come on strong also....

    Ya'll have a serious uphill battle in 08... good luck finding a platform.

  • Blogger FleshPresser posted at 4:34 PM  
    Hey - thanks for your insights, Guppyman.

    Just for the record, I used quite a number of "good" conservative sources for my picks - TRUST ME... I did NOT rank these people in the order my preference. Of course, using straw polls alone are no real indicator or success... after all, Frist and Tancredo have both won straw polls for '08, as well... and we KNOW that ain't happenin'.

    My pick of McCain for the top right now (and keep in mind that this is a fluid list - positions will change as news and events take place) is that he has the support, money, and experience in a National campaign like this. At this early stage, you've got to give him the top slot, until someone knocks him off - and that won't happen until the Primary season actually kicks in.

    As for your "dream ticket" I would simply place the emphasis on the word "dream", 'cause it ain't gonna' happen for a number of reasons.

    I agree with your assessment of Newt... he's definitely one worth watching. don't worry about that whole "platform" thing... I think we're going to be just fine. I think you might be the one a little concerned, and that concern is going to begin this coming November. Buckle your seatbelts, 'cause it's gonna' be a little bumpy for the Republicans.

  • Blogger cakreiz posted at 11:10 AM  
    Until recently, I had Allen in first, McCain second. Allen looked like the closest thing to Bush that the party could muster. But even the GOP is suffering from a tangible Bush fatigue, lending itself to McCain. As of right now, I'd say you're right. But it's too early to discount the Christian right and party regulars who see McCain as too liberal.

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