After President Bush: Speculation Begins About 2008 Contest

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 10, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

After President Bush: Speculation Begins About 2008 Contest Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 10, 2004

Washington, DC ( — In an era of nonstop campaigning speculation is already beginning about the 2008 presidential elections, just days after President Bush secured strong support for a second term in office.

With no incumbent running, a scramble has begun by potential candidates on both sides of the aisle to position themselves as the favorite to carry their party’s standard.

Most losing presidential candidates have exited politics in the last few decades. Bob Dole, Al Gore, the former President Bush, Michael Dukakis, and Walter Mondale all chose not to run again after losing their bids to become Commander in Chief.

However, John Kerry remains a Massachusetts senator and the name recognition and political network he built during the 2004 presidential election could serve him well in a second attempt at the presidency.

Others say Kerry’s candidacy was fueled by a hatred of the president among Democratic activists and that a second Kerry campaign wouldn’t catch fire.

If not Kerry, then who?

The top contender for political observers of all stripes is pro-abortion New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Republicans relish the opportunity to take on the former First Lady, saying she is a polarizing figure who would rally Republicans around her opponent.

According to U.S. News and World Report, Hillary has already organized a fundraising team and is crafting an issues agenda for both her 2006 Senate reelection campaign and her expected 2008 presidential bid.

One possible Democrat who says he is definitely out of the picture is new Illinois senator Barack Obama, who established a national persona in only his first attempt at Congressional office. Billed as a rising star within the party, the pro-abortion Obama told Copley News Service, "I am not running for president in 2008."

"The only reason I’m being definitive is because, until I’m definitive, you’ll keep asking me this question," he told reporters.

Kerry’s loss does not put an end to the political ambitions of former North Carolina Senator John Edwards. He gave a concession speech that made him sound like a presidential candidate and losing vice-presidential candidates don’t normally get the blame for the presidential candidate’s defeat.

However, Edwards won’t be in the thick of the political battles during the next four years, which will make his ability to stay relevant difficult — especially when Edwards was seen as too inexperienced to be a heartbeat away from the presidency.

Evan Bayh, the Indiana senator, is another possible consideration. He’s telegenic and hails from a Republican state in the industrial Midwest. However, he’s yet to build a national following and has been tagged as a back-bencher without a key political issue on which he’s been effective.

Several Democratic governors are also mentioned as possible candidates: Bill Richardson of New Mexico, Mark Warner of Virginia, Rod Blagojevich of Illinois, Tom Vilsack of Iowa, and Janet Napolitano of Arizona.

On the Republican side, Florida Governor Jeb Bush has made it clear he will not follow his brother and father into the Oval Office and he’s getting frustrated at repeated questions about his political future.

"Might you change your mind?" asked a reporter.

"No," Governor Bush said. "Why am I not believable on this subject? This is driving me nuts."

As it does every election, the media becomes enamored with possible Republican presidential contenders — usually abortion advocates who lean to the left of the party and are far more liberal than the grassroots.

These kinds of potential candidates — New York Governor George Pataki, former New York City mayor Rudy Guliani, and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger — rarely do well in the primary elections because they fail to mobilize support from the overwhelming number of Republicans who are pro-life.

Previous pro-abortion candidates like Arlen Specter and Pete Wilson fizzled despite significant media attention.

Schwarzenegger’s task is even more daunting because he was born in Austria and is ineligible to run for president. A move is afoot to consider an amendment to the Constitution to allow foreign-born U.S. citizens to run, but that would be an inordinately difficult task to accomplish.

John McCain, who is mildly pro-life, remains the favorite of some Republicans, but he will be 72 when 2008 comes around and he has clashed with conservative Republicans on too many issues to wage a successful candidacy.

Possible pro-life contenders for the Republican nomination include current Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. He is scheduled to retire from the Senate in 2006, just in time to mount a bid for the presidency.

He also went on something of a "victory tour" across the country to congratulate newly-elected Republican senators.

Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel is another possible pro-life candidate with national ambitions, though he hails from a small state not located in a region where Republicans need to excel. He would be harder pressed to develop a national fundraising strategy.

Colorado Gov. Bill Owens, Senator George Allen of Virginia and Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas are all pro-life elected officials who are mentioned as possible contenders.