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Thursday, February 10, 2005


2008 Top 10 - 02/05

posted by Chris at Thursday, February 10, 2005 permalink View blog reactions
Greetings residents of the Dean Nation. My name is Chris and I run a blog called Forty-Four. The purpose of my site is to keep tabs on the Democrats planning on seeking the party's presidential nomination in 2008. We still have a looong way to go before the campaign officially starts, but believe me it's well under way. I'll keep you posted periodically on the contenders and what their chances are.

1. NY Sen. Hillary Clinton - Whether you like it or not she is the '800 lb. Gorilla' of this group. Until the campaign actually begins in early 2007, the ones with high name recognition will be considered the front runners by the mainstream media and meaningless polls. 2004's name recognition leader, Joe Lieberman, was the front runner in the '04 race until primary voters started paying attention. But regardless, the Clinton name will be very tough to beat if she decides to run.

2. Fmr. NC Sen. John Edwards - Because he was no. 2 on the ticket last year, the loser label doesn't apply to him quite as much as a Kerry or a Gore. He appeals to all factions of the Democratic Party, liberals and moderates all seem to like him. His major negative though is that by 2008 he would have spent more time running for office than actually being in office. His thin resume was his only real negative last time, and it isn't getting any thicker.

3. IN Sen. Evan Bayh - Despite his relatively low name recognition I put him this high because I believe he's the sharpest contrast to Hillary Clinton, who people fear is the most un-electable. All the while he can make probably make the best case of any Democrat in America that he can win in a solidly red state. His vote against confirmation of Condoleeza Rice as Sec. of State shows that he knows he must move to the left to win the nomination. Another DLC Democrat, Bill Clinton, understood that in '92. While Lieberman refused to budge in '04.

4. NM Gov. Bill Richardson - Some feel that you have to look beyond a resume when looking at a presidential candidate. But man o man, those people haven't looked at Bill Richardson's bio! He's a Governor from New Mexico, Governors far and away have the best track record of getting elected President and being from a battleground region doesn't hurt either. He has extensive foreign policy experience as UN Ambassador and member of the House of Representatives. And he's Hispanic, now the largest minority in the country. Bush did a pretty nice job of cutting into the Hispanic vote in '04, and they're not planning on stopping there.

5. WI Sen. Russ Feingold - Now that Dean is unlikely to run for President in '08, the question is where will his army of strong supporters turn to as an alternative? Perhaps the most likely to meet that criteria is Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold. A truly independent Democrat who opposed the Iraq War, was the one Senator to vote against the Patriot Act, and teamed with John McCain for the now famous "McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act". Some fear he is too liberal, but he easily won re-election in a battleground state in 2004.

6. Fmr. Vice Pres. Al Gore - Vice President Richard Nixon lost the closest election in US History in 1960, after the Democrat's dominance in the '64 election he was left for dead. But 8 years after his crushing defeat he won the Presidency in 1968. So don't laugh at the idea of Al Gore running again in 2008. When he endorsed Dean for President in 2003, he may have already been plotting his comeback. Many of Dean's former supporters haven't forgotten that leap of faith. Plus, unlike Kerry, many Democrats still don't feel that Gore actually lost the 2000 election.

7. VA Gov. Mark Warner - One of the attractive things about Warner is that he's a rumored presidential candidate because of his success as Governor of Virginia, not because of his personal ambition. He also appeals to some progressives despite his DLC credentials because he hasn't forgotten core Democratic principles. With Bayh and Edwards likely to run, it might take away from Warner's appeal as a moderate red state southerner. He may opt instead to run for Senate. He may want to take over Chairmanship of the DLC after Bayh, so those two may be in contact with each other regarding 2008.

8. MA Sen. John Kerry - Whether it's his fault or not, people see the 2004 election as one that Kerry should have won. The only reason he was nominated was because people thought he could win. Now that we know that's not the case, Kerry will be crossed off of many people's lists. Many of Kerry's supporters were really more anti-Bush than pro-Kerry. And Bush winning a second term has people downright angry. Unlike 2000, when the Supreme Court was the object of Democrat's furor, fingers are pointed squarely at the Kerry campaign.

9. Gen. Wesley Clark - Like Feingold or Gore, General Clark is very popular with the Dean crowd. Some feel he had enormous potential in 2004, but he was just too green and his campaign never really had a chance. He says he's learned from his mistakes and he has four years to work on his campaigning skills. The one issue Republicans kill Democrats on is national security. A Four-Star General could go a long way in shoring that up. Because he has the title of "General" he doesn't have to go to the extremes Kerry did to remind people he's a veteran.

10. TN Gov. Phil Bredesen - This Tennessee Governor is the newest name in the 2008 horserace. Any Democratic Governor from a red state with high approval ratings these days will immediately become a national celebrity (well in political circles anyway). He's currently basking in high approval ratings easily comparable to Warner in Virginia and Richardson in New Mexico. If he wins re-election in 2006 by a significant margin, he could be a factor if he so chooses.

Other receiving votes: DE Sen. Joe Biden (enormous foreign policy credentials, but was derailed in '88 because of a plagiarism scandal), IA Gov. Tom Vilsack (one of the most successful Democrats in the Midwest, but not the hot prospect he once was), KS Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (like Bredesen she's only been in office since 2002, but someone to keep an eye on)

I arrived at these rankings by taking into consideration not only the odds of them winning the nomination, but the odds of them actually running. It was hard to put big names such as Gore and Kerry so low, but this is an incredibly deep group. As a Virginian I'm a huge Mark Warner fan, so it pains me to see him so low. I was a Clark supporter in '04 and still feel he has enormous potential. As far as Hillary goes, I worry a lot about her chances in a national race but I'm not as pessimistic as some. I think the hoopla over the possibility of having a woman as President would get people excited about voting for her. Besides the Clintons are very smart politically, she wouldn't run unless she knew she could win. Critics say she will run because of her ego and high ambition. I say she might NOT run for the same reasons. Isn't it ironic that people concerned with Dean's "electability" in 2004 were looking for the "Anti-Dean". Now we're already hearing talk of the "Anti-Hillary". Proof I guess that Hillary's chances if she runs are not set in stone, since Dean was consideed a LOCK for the nomination just days before the first votes were cast in Iowa. A new poll came out Wednesday that says Hillary leads Kerry among Massachusetts Democrats, which is supposed to make us think that she's unstoppable. I seem to remember Dean leading Kerry in Mass. as late as 2003. Don't believe the hype folks.


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Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.