Thursday, October 12, 2006

Warner bows out

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Big political news today. Former Virginia Governor Mark Warner announced that he will not run for president in '08. The public reason, as is often the case when politicians remove themselves from politics, is family. Which means it probably isn't the real reason, or at least not the entire reason. Warner probably does want to spend more time with his family, and perhaps his family doesn't want him to run, or perhaps the sacrifices involved in running for the presidency are too great to take the plunge at this point in his life, but perhaps other factors played a role, too.

Such as? Warner would have run as a moderate Democrat, which he is. But the leading moderate Democrat is Hillary Clinton. Perhaps Warner looked ahead and saw no chance of beating her. Or perhaps, as the Post indicates, the poll numbers weren't looking that promising anyway. Perhaps he has a better shot at the Veep spot. Or perhaps he'll run for Senate to replace the other Warner from Virginia. Or perhaps he'll run for governor again.

It's just odd, because, as Steve Benen notes, Warner was "running hard". It's a "shocker," says Chris Bowers, who says that the primary beneficiary (sorry: unintentional pun) could be John Edwards (note: I blog occasionally at Edwards's One America Committee). That's also Ryan Lizza's view (h/t: Steve): "The big winner today is John Edwards, whose team has been slyly trying to undermine Warner in recent weeks, since it rightly saw the former Virginia governor as Edwards' biggest threat to be the anti-Hillary." I would add that Edwards is a much more credible anti-Hillary candidate than Warner could have been. I look foward to a Clinton-Edwards race, if that's what it comes down to. Both are highly admirable Democrats with legitimate shots at the White House.

For more on the likely fallout of Warner's decision, see BooMan: "The immediate beneficiary of Warner's decision could be John Edwards, because he is the other southern candidate. But I actually think it benefits all the other centrists, like Biden, Vilsack, Bayh, and Clinton. The first three are such longshots that I think the real beneficiary is Clinton." And Brendan Nyhan: "Clearly, the major beneficiary of this development is John Edwards, who is now the main 'electable' Democrat from the South in the race." That always seems to help.

Following Kos, Big Tent Democrat wonders if Obama could wind up in the race. Intriguing. Actually, Kos sees Edwards as "the frontrunner" already. Obama may be "too raw".

All fascinating stuff for us political junkies eagerly looking ahead to November 2008.


UPDATE: Read Dickerson. The primary beneficiary may be Bayh. Regardless, let the wooing begin.

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  • Whatever happened to the idea that Ed Rendell, governor of PA, was the Democratic front-runner? Is he even rumored to be running anymore? Or Phil Bredesen, governor of TN? I definitely think Obama shouldn't run. I actually think he can run as a Democrat who's genuinely serious about national defense and such, as well as being a much more genuinely progressive public figure/president than we've had in decades, but not after only four years in the Senate. Barak is the future, but not in 08.

    By Blogger Heraclitus, at 8:13 PM  

  • Oh, two other brief points--I also think Edwards is too raw. One term as a Senator qualifies him to be President? If HRC wins the nomination, I personally could see no reason to vote for her unless the GOP candidate is a Frist or a Brownback. The Dems are just playing image politics again, which is how they got their heads handed to them in 04. If they don't take themselves seriously enough to nominate someone for reasons other than being photogenic and folksy, why should anyone else take them seriously?

    By Blogger Heraclitus, at 8:33 PM  

  • I'm not sure I agree that Edwards is too raw. He's been through a national campaign already, after all, and he's spent the past couple of years beefing up on national security and foreign affairs. And he's one of the only major political figures in the U.S. to talk about poverty. He understands a side of America that most others ignore. I'm not sure more experience in the Senate would have done him any good. In fact, it usually does more harm that good. Perhaps he could run for governor of North Carolina, but, other than that, why not the White House?

    I agree with you that Obama is the future. We'll see. But if it's Hillary, for example, and she's president for two terms, that takes us to 2016. What would Obama be like at that point? Would he still be in the Senate? Would he be governor of Illinois? Either way, who can predict what the political landscape will be like in '12, '16, '20, etc.? It may be too soon for Obama to run, but if he's not careful it'll quickly be either too late or the wrong time.

    I disagree with you about Hillary. What's wrong with her? She's not my favourite candidate either, but are you honestly saying that she's only better than an extremist like Brownback or a fool like Frist? Would you vote for any other GOP candidate? I suspect you'd prefer McCain to Hillary, and perhaps Giuliani -- correct me if I'm wrong -- but what about Allen or Gingrich. Or Pataki or Romney. Or Rice. Are they all preferable to Hillary?

    Say it ain't so.

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 9:13 PM  

  • Actually, Michael, you're right about Edwards and poverty. I had forgotten about that. I still think he's weak on foreign policy/national security, and I think the view that Kerry and Edwards were weak on that in 2004 is what cost them the election, in the famous "golden corridor" in Florida, and, yes, in Ohio, whatever the poorly-worded exit poll about "moral values" suggested. As for Hillary, I just think she's basically a Republican. Maybe more to the point, I don't think she has any real principle or courage (although I think she did, much more than Bill ever did, before the DLC got its claws into her), and will always bow to the right when it matters. Obviously, I would have to wait and see who runs and what they're saying, but I'm just not convinced HRC would actually be a meaningful alternative to the GOP. I might post something in the future about Giuliani, because I think he's an interesting case, but no, I don't think he should run. It's interesting, because he would have been an ideal AG, especially after September 11th, but the Bushies have completely prevented him from assuming any kind of national role or gaining any national experience. As for the others, who knows? I think Romney is out--part of the "Big Dig" in Boston collapsed, and killed a woman, and I don't see him coming back from that. At least, he shouldn't. So we'll see, but I'd rather see one of those rabble-rousing crypto-socialists than HRC. Any chance Feingold would run?

    By Blogger Heraclitus, at 9:36 PM  

  • Bayh's got all the credentials...

    Was elected in 1986 to Indiana Secretary of State at the age of 30. Elected in 1988 as Governor of Indiana, first Democratic Governor in 20 years. Re-elected in 1992 with the largest margin in modern Indiana history. Elected to the Senate in 1998. Re-elected in 2004 with a higher percentage than GWB. All in a state that has voted twice since 1932 for a Democratic presidential candidate.
    This man KNOWS how to win and what it takes to win.
    I'd definately encourage you to strongly consider him...
    For more information on Senator Bayh please visit:
    All America PAC Senator Bayh's PAC
    BayhPartisan All things Sen Bayh
    Americans For Bayh Grassroots Bayh 2008
    Sen Bayh's Myspace Profile
    Sen Bayh's Facebook Profile

    By Blogger Rob, at 10:01 PM  

  • Ah, a big Bayh fan. I agree he has some impressive credentials, and he's a solid DLC guy, but he'll be squeezed out by Hillary. Besides, isn't he a bit dull?

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 10:04 PM  

  • Rob, you make an excellent case for Bayh. Any chance Dick Lugar would endorse Bayh? I know Bayh probably doesn't need any help winning Indiana, but Lugar is surely one of the most serious and respectable members of the Senate. An endorsement from him would go a long way, at least for me.

    By Blogger Heraclitus, at 10:12 PM  

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