Wednesday, March 07, 2007

It's Never Too Early

Though no candidate has approached me for their endorsement just yet, as the recent rush of nomination announcements, speeches and posturing has demonstrated, it’s never too early to start talking about the presidential race, even though the election is still 20 months away. Here’s my take on the candidates so far:

Democrats:
Hillary – Right now I think Hillary has the potential to be the superior candidate, but first she’s going to have to weather some political storms brewing on the front end of things. She’s an astute politician, a good talker, and I would love to see Bill as the first husband. One huge downside to her candidacy however, is the fact that it fuels the impression that America is being run by a dynasty of political powerful families, instead of the open democracy that we like to envision ourselves as.
Greatest strength: her reputation as an independently successful female Senator
Greatest weakness: She suffers from the Kerry syndrome: She flip flops on issues, instead of taking a defined position and sticking to it.

Obama – If nothing else, Obama is a breath of fresh air into the race. He’s not afraid to be candid, he generally (but not always) thinks before he speaks, and he doesn’t wear ties to most public engagements. On the other hand, his inexperience is a huge target for Republicans to shoot at, and he's already faced bumps in the road that can be directly attributed to his inexperience at facing a withering spotlight. Though unlikely to be supported by mainstream America, the idea of a Hillary-Obama ticket sends shivers down my spine.
Greatest strength: He passes the likeabilty test with flying colors
Greatest weakness: Inexperience

John Edwards - Nice to see that he's running. Unfortunately, he's a guy who simply picked the wrong year to run. He's a strong candidate, likeable and intelligent. But, he's going to have a really hard time overcoming the Clinton-Obama mountain standing in front of him. Frankly, the "Two Americas" speech isn't going to get him very far this time around.
Greatest strength: Presents a good comprehensive picture and he has an awesome wife.
Greatest weakness: He's not Hillary or Obama.

I might address them later on, but right now all the other Democratic candidates are facing too big of an uphill battle to warrant much consideration...

Best candidate not in the race: Al Gore. It won’t happen I know, but he’s done an amazing job at reviving his public career and at relaxing a little since he lost in 2000.

Republicans:
John McCain – I’ve spent most of the last four years thinking McCain was a shoo-in for the Republican nomination. I’m not so sure about that anymore however. McCain only works if he can be the maverick candidate he used to be. However, he’s pigeon- holed himself by his vocal support of the Iraq war and because of his relatively conservative stance on social issues. Campaign finance isn’t going to carry him through the election like it almost did 8 years ago.
Greatest strength: He's been the presumptive candidate for 4 years
Greatest weakness: His unbending support for the Iraq war and his precarious health


Guiliani – I’m pretty surprised that Guiliani appears to have established a political network outside of the New York area, and that he’s the leading candidate right now for the nomination. I expect, however, that momentum is going to swing away from him as all the skeletons he’s hiding in his closet come out. Before 9/11, Guiliani was known for cleaning up New York, but also for being an extremely polarizing force between African Americans and the city. In case you don't remember, he also tried to postpone city elecdtions after 9/11 as a way of extending his tenure. Politicians could have a field day by comparing that suggestion to ones that undemocratic dictatorships take. Though a lot of people may not remember this (yet) he never got out of the gate as a potential Senatorial candidate against....Hillary.
Greatest strength: 9/11 was his shining moment
Greatest weakness: The cargo ship full of political baggage he's tugging behind him

Mitt Romney – If Mitt can continue his campaign without appearing too shifty on issues concerning his previously liberal social stances, then I think his campaign is going to start taking some of the momentum away form the Guiliani campaign. In fact, Romney might wind up being the spoiler to the Guiliani campaign. The fact that he probably won't carry his own state (Massachusetts) in the general election isn't too much to get caught up on - at least not yet, but any state that a candidate can get as a freebie always strengthens his or her credentials.
Greatest strength: His name is perfect for slogans. ("Romney fits this country like a Mitt.") He also happens to be a good middle-of-the road alternative candidate to Guiliani and McCain.
Greatest weakness: The country might be ready for an African American president or for a female president, but that doesn't mean it's ready for a Mormon.

Best candidate not in the race: Arnold Schwarzenegger