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An eye on 2008
Posted by: Jon Henke on Friday, August 11, 2006

While everybody is aware of the compositional changes that the upcoming House and Senate races may represent for Republicans and Democrats, it's also worth noting that some of these races may have a significant impact on the upcoming 2008 Presidential campaigns. Potential GOP Presidential candidates are demonstrating their bona fides by campaigning on behalf of, or raising money for, current Republican candidates and generally seeking to improve their profile with voters and backers. At this point — and with the "anything could happen" caveat — only four potential Republican candidates seem to me to be genuinely viable:

  • George Allen - Likable; solid record; good campaigner; broad appeal to multiple right-of-center groups; talks a great deal about a return to federalism and "common sense Jeffersonian conservative principles".

  • Rudy Giuliani - Hero-image and social tolerance that could appeal to many centrists; might even swing New York for Republicans.

  • John McCain - after a few years of being embraced by the media and even many Democrats (Kerry/McCain?), he would be difficult to attack; solid national defense record; deficit hawk; huge appeal among centrists.

  • Mitt Romney — exudes competence, charisma and intellectual heft.

In 2006, each candidate will also have to establish his fundraising and voter-moving credibility. But there's an interesting twist to this. Not only are these (potential, natch) candidates out proving themselves, they're also trying to figure out how to position themselves against their future Republican primary opponents. And perhaps sharpening the shivs.

Not publicly, of course, or overtly. For example, a recent correspondent made an interesting speculation by connecting a few dots.

In Virginia, Senator George Allen — widely considered a front-runner for the GOP nod — is running against recently converted Democrat James Webb in a race that many believe will signal his viability as a Presidential candidate. Now, James Webb had previously supported George Allen in his 2000 campaign, though he now says he regrets that support, primarily due to Allen's support of the Iraq war. That's not an unreasonable reversal, but it's also worth noting another pro-war candidate James Webb has touted, even recently: John McCain.

In fact, according to The Hill, Webb and McCain have a longstanding relationship, though "the depth and texture of the McCain-Webb friendship" is unclear. There is, however, some speculation that, with an eye towards hamstringing a future opponent, Webb may have been encouraged to enter the race by John McCain.

At least, that's the speculation. While I don't think this is impossible — indeed, this the kind of pre-primary jostling wouldn't surprise me — I'm somewhat skeptical. Aside from the relatively thin evidence presented, I note that "John McCain of Arizona will campaign with Allen next week in Norfolk, and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani will appear for a fundraising event at the end of the month."

At this stage, anyway, building one's grassroots appeal and fundraising bona fides trumps the intra-Party competition. I don't expect that to last one moment past the '06 elections, though, and I suspect the potential Presidential candidates are already hedging their bets and prepping their opposition research for the Primary campaigns.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Only the first two count. Romney is a creation of the left coast and the beltway.
IMHO He will not catch on.
McCain is so hated by the libertarian leaning right(like myself) for his assault on political speech, well... lets put it this way. I would rather vote for Hillary Clinton. At least she would be so divisive that it would be hard for her to get anything done.
McCain on the other hand, as an old beltway pro with many markers to call in could probably get all sorts of harmful crap pushed through congress.
Did I mention I despise him?
Written By: kyle N
Yes we have a former combat veteran and Secretary of the Navy running against a military evading kid born with a silver spoon his mouth who was identified as the senator least likely to understand rocket science. Doubtless those who favor a strong defense, and sound fiscal management will rally around the kid with the famous father, proving Lincoln old saying that you really can fool libertarians all the time.

Lets just hope that the people of Virgina stop this maddness now, before he ends up in the white house and we have another four years of incompetence in the White house.

Written By: cindyb
URL: http://
George Allen: Dead loser for the Republicans. Just what they need to get Hillary elected.

Rudy Giuliani: Can’t get the nomination, but could win the general.

John McCain: I like him; everyone else here hates him. Luckily, most of the country agrees with me.

Mitt Romney: Nice hair.
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
Since the public is shallow and if David S.’ analysis is correct.

Romney’s will take it.
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
Just to satisfy my limited, mostly statistical understanding: are there any currently viable candidates from either party that are southern governors? Is Romney the only one that isn’t a senator?
Written By: Scout
URL: http://
If I can’t dance with Chuck Hagel I don’t want to be in your revolution.
Written By: Jim Henley
I’ve watched Mitt Romney in the Mass Gov Debates and have business acquaintances who worked with him on VC turnarounds and the Salt Lake Olympic mess he salvaged. "Our" impressions are very favorable. Very. This is a serious, capable man with a long list of fixing seemingly insoluable problems. He also levels with his constituents about what is doable and what is not. On a show the other night, he was talking about the 8/10 Plot and refused to say that - unlike so many other politicans, he will "hire enough hero cops and firefighters" to "keep us all safe". He said that the enemy is intelligent and will seek weaknesses and we cannot protect all of the 100s of thousands of targets, and the best thing we can do is be more like MI-5 and watch for and break up plots...and then he said something interesting....that "the government’s obligation to protect citizen’s life is the highest of the civil liberties the Constitution charges them with protecting"...much higher than enemy privacy rights.

Romney is very fast on his feet, very charismatic.

It would be a crowning irony if after 46 years of Democrat-dominated Mass trying to put a Democrat stalwart like Dukakis, Kennedy, Kerry in the Presidency, Mass finally has a winner...

Written By: C. Ford
URL: http://
Just to clear, John McCain would be the Republican or Democrat nominee?

Can you say tax increase?

Written By: DS
URL: http://
I predicted a year ago that Allen was inevitable simply because McCain has riled too many conservatives over time. I apply the Independent Test: that is, if an independent lies a candidate, then he has no chance of winning the GOP’s mainstream voters. Allen is Bush Lite (that’s a staggering thought.) He’ll likely win the nomination.
Written By: kreiz
URL: http://
I’m a Republican supporting Libertarian Doug Stanhope for 2008. Stanhope is a nationally-known comedian most famous for his stint as Co-Host on the "Man’s Show" with Adam Corrola.

Stanhope declared last month for the LP Nomination.

If he doesn’t get it, and some lower-level non-celebrity Libertarian hack like George Phillies or Michael Badnarik win the nomination, I’m voting Republican.

I lean towards Guiliani, only for his leadership skills and because he’s socially tolerant.
Written By: Eric Dondero

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