The likeliest Democratic nominee in 2008, as I see it, is Mark Warner. Warner, like recent winning Democratic candidates for the White House, has been a southern governor. He's also been a successful businessperson and is comfortable talking about his faith and values. He would be formidable, capable of blunting usual Republican advantages while holding onto the Democratic base.
While John McCain must be considered the frontrunner for the Republican nomination--and that CNN poll shows him having much smaller "negatives" than Clinton--he is by no means a shoo-in. Every one of the potential GOP candidates has strikes against them being successful in attaining their party's nomination:
- McCain, third most conservative member of the Senate, is distrusted by the neo-conservatives.
- Giuliani is way out of sync with the mainstream of his party on abortion and gay rights.
- Allen and Brownback are likely to be seen as too conservative to win in the fall.
- Hagel will have problems winning over the hawks because of his questioning of the current administration's war policies.
In 1968, his father's bid for the Republican nomination self-destructed in the snows of New Hampshire after complaining on a local radio show that the Johnson Administration had tried to subject him to a "brainwashing" on the war in Vietnam. Interestingly, the Michigan governor's Mormon religion played no role in the unraveling of his campaign.
But today's Republican Party isn't the same as its 1968 counterpart. Back then, Mormons were considered mainstays of the party. Ezra Taft Benson, a Mormon luminary, had served as Eisenhower's Secretary of Agriculture in the 1950s.
Mormons still vote Republican. But today, the conservative Christians who would have been, by and large, in the Democratic column in '68, have shifted to the Republican Party. Therein lies a potential problem.
All mainstream Christians, even more liberal denominations like my own Lutheran, regard Mormonism as a sub-Christian cult. But for most mainstream Christians, Romney's affiliation with the group wouldn't necessarily preclude their considering him for the presidency. That may not be true for more conservative Christians. Apparently, there's an anti-Romney whispering campaign, revolving around his religion, working against the Massachusetts governor. It's difficult to tell what might become of it.
Putting Romney's religion aside for a moment, he has other credentials that would otherwise make him a formidable campaign:
- He's been elected governor in a state considered a bastion of ultraliberalism. In essence, he's a mirror image of southern Democratic governors, the kinds of Dems who get elected president these days.
- As the Massachusetts chief executive, he would have a real leg-up in the New Hampshire primary. The Boston TV and radio stations are seen and heard throughout NH. Massachusetts pols have always had an advantage in New Hampshire, including the successful write-in campaign for Henry Cabot Lodge in the 1964 Republican primary and on the Democratic side, names like Kennedy, Tsongas, Dukakis, and Kerry.
- He's worked with Democrats (including Teddy Kennedy) and Republicans to get a statewide health insurance program passed.
[Thanks to Andy Jackson at SmarChristian.com for linking to this post.]
[Thanks to Memeorandum for linking to this post.]