Wesley Clark should be an interesting candidate, but he’s gotta do a whole lot in a big hurry. Hmm…sounds like John Kerry.
I find the entry of Wesley Clark in the Democratic presidential field interesting. From what I hear, he represents the last shot of the Clinton contingent to retain any sort of power in the Democratic party, Clark’s campaign staff being overloaded with Clintonistas. I do think this spells the end of John Kerry’s bid. The confidence that party power brokers once had that Kerry could run the board in the primaries has vanished, and those in control are petrified of a Dean-led Democratic ticket. Frankly, though, I think Dean/Clark sounds heaven-made.
Here’s my brief take on the field:
Wesley Clark: Almost unknown. Needs to get a lot of attention and to build a big organization in a hurry. By all accounts an incredibly smart and talented individual. Opposed the invasion of Iraq which will give him instant credibility among most Democrats, especially since he’s a heavily decorated retired military general. Lack of domestic policy or political experience cuts both ways. If like 1992 “it’s the economy, stupid” then I’m unsure how he’s going to bridge that gap. A wild card at this stage.
Howard Dean: Running the best campaign of any candidate thus far. Now front-runner as a result. May win Iowa and New Hampshire, or may not survive closer scrutiny and the raft of negative attacks that inevitably accrue to the front-runner. If the grassroots activists control the Democratic Party, Dean has a great shot at the nomination. If power brokers control the party, it’ll be Kerry, Edwards, Lieberman, or Clark.
Carol Mosley-Braun: A very intelligent, well-spoken former Senator from Illinois. It is instructive that she lost her senate seat to a Republican. What makes her think she can win nationally when she couldn’t statewide is beyond me. Says a lot of good things and says them well. No chance whatsoever that she will be the nominee.
Dennis Kuchinich: A liberal’s liberal who makes Dean look moderate (which he actually is on most issues). The far left loves this guy, but he’d be utterly unelectable in the general. Some of his positions are as nutty as Bush’s (though not nearly as evil). Those who like him, like him a lot. I think most see him as a gadfly.
Bob Graham: Well, he’d probably win Florida. He’s not polling more than a blip anywhere else though. Expect to see him drop out of the race early on.
John Edwards: Until Clark, the Demos had no other Southern candidate. Clark may be a big problem for Edwards, and not just because Clark’s “I’m running” announcement trumped Edwards’. Wide perception that Edwards is too young, inexperienced, and immature for the presidency has yet to be overcome and Clark has none of these handicaps. Unlike some others Edwards can lose Iowa and New Hampshire without impact to his chances.
John Kerry: Current poster child for how not to run a campaign. Too soon to count out because he’s got an organization, some big money, and a fair amount of talent. Needs to get it in gear soon, though. If he loses New Hampshire, his days are numbered.
Joe Lieberman: Representing the conservative, pro-Bush side of the Democratic party apparently. Has said that he’s focusing on the contests after Iowa and New Hampshire. Has a tendency to speak in the most boring of all possible tones even when saying highly inflammatory things. A sizeable portion of the democratic rank-and-file dislikes him and not because he’s Jewish. He simply takes Republican positions on a lot of issues.
Al Sharpton: The good Reverend is probably trying to play power broker. Not sure that he can deliver the Black vote. Absolutely positive he won’t win any states or delegates. Don’t see why he’s running except that he must love to hear himself talk. Polls zero in most places.
Dick Gephardt: A very smooth politician with many years of Congressional experience. You tell me whether this is a good thing or not. May win Iowa. Unlikely to states outside the Midwest, however. Has garnered a lot of union support for his long-time protectionist stands.