2008 race for the president going strong

Published 2:54 pm Wednesday, December 6, 2006

By By Steve Flowers
Now that our Alabama gubernatorial race has concluded the jockeying will begin for the next governor's race in 2010 four years from now. In the same vein the 2008 Presidential Race has been going on for two years. It began the day George W. Bush was elected to his second and final term. The lack of an incumbent leaves the door open for a wild free-for-all and it is just that with as many as twenty presidential aspirants testing the water. They have inundated the early primary states of New Hampshire and Iowa with their appearances. There are a lot more candidates than ever before and they are campaigning at a full throttle pitch much earlier than usual.
This time each party has a celebrity heavyweight, New York Senator Hillary Clinton on the democratic side and Arizona Senator John McCain on the republican side. However the field is full of quality candidates so if you like presidential politics it will be a great contest to watch.
The 2008 race may very well be the first $1 billion election ever. Hillary Clinton is an almost certain candidate and could raise $500 million herself alone. She can use her husband's massive fundraising list and his commanding ability to ignite and raise democratic dollars. Hillary and Bill's insight and acumen in raising internet dollars from small donors nationwide is phenomenal.
By the same token Hillary is a lightning rod for republican donors. Republicans hate her and they will open their pocketbooks to defeat her. They are already bringing in big bucks using Hillary as a poster girl. In addition President Bush's elite Ranger and Pioneer money raisers are looking for their favorites. In the last presidential election they raised a lot of dough.
The candidates the republicans have to choose from are plentiful and formidable but the best candidate they could field would be Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Maverick. The former Vietnam POW has celebrity status and tremendous crossover appeal to independents. However, most pundits believe McCain is too moderate to get the republican nomination but if the GOP loyalists can allow a true moderate to survive their primary he could win. The other horses in the republican stable ready to run are Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and even former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
The clear democratic frontrunner is Hillary Clinton. She will more than likely be the democratic nominee. However, there are nine other candidates chasing her for the democratic mantle. Included in the list are the two 2004 standard bearers, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards. Edwards has practically made his home the early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire. He probably knows most of the voters in these sparsely populated states on a first name basis by now.
The two rising stars of the Democratic Party, Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, are both ready to run if Hillary falters. Also interested are Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson who is the nation's top Hispanic candidate. In addition, Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack and former NATO commander Wesley Clark who ran last time will also run.
A trend has developed over the years in the presidential arena. Aspirants will run to run again not really expecting to win. They will run to get acquainted and to gain national exposure and experience at running nationwide while building a national organization that will hold them in good stead in a future race for the White House.
McCain's 2000 plunge into the republican foray has helped to make him the GOP frontrunner for 2008. Barack Obama may have the same idea in mind. He has the charisma and is the hottest commodity in politics today. He should probably strike while his iron is hot. If Hillary prevails he can expect to be the democratic frontrunner eight years later or in four years if she fails to capture the presidency.
Regardless of whom all the horses will be the 2008 Presidential Race is already on and it should be fun to watch.
See you next week.
Steve Flowers is Alabama's leading political columnist. His column appears weekly in 70 Alabama newspapers. Steve served 16 years in the State Legislature. He may be reached at www.steveflowers.us <http://www.steveflowers.us/>.

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