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2008: The Case Against John Kerry

If my Tuesday post making the case for a second presidential bid by Sen. John Kerry proved anything, it was that The Fix's readers feel strongly about the junior senator from Massachusetts.

In the interest of keeping the debate going, today's post is focused on why Kerry should take a pass in 2008. Please feel free to sound off in the comments section below.

No John, No!

History -- that of the Democratic Party and that of presidential politics in general -- is perhaps Kerry's most daunting challenge to another bid for the White House

First, the party problem. In the past four decades, every Republican presidential nominee (other than the current president) ran unsuccessfully for the party nomination at least once before actually winning it. Democrats -- on the other hand -- have repeatedly rejected second-attempt candidacies -- Dick Gephardt (1988, 2004), George McGovern (1972, 1984), Jerry Brown (1976, 1980, 1992) Gary Hart (1984, 1988) jump immediately to mind.

And don't forget the hue and cry against former Vice President Al Gore when he considered running again in 2004 -- four years after he won the popular vote but came up short in the electoral count. (Gore, himself, was a rare repeat success story for Democrats, having lost a bid for the nomination in 1988.)

The history of senators and the presidency also isn't encouraging. Since Sen. John F. Kennedy won the nation's highest office in 1960, no sitting senator has been directly elected to the presidency.

A Kerry bid would be framed by this history, meaning it would be a constant topic of conversation surrounding his candidacy -- not exactly the kind of buzz his advisers want. While the past history of the Democratic nominating process would matter little to the average voter, it would be a major factor among the political chattering class, which tends to create conventional wisdom in the primary process.

That expectations-setting leads us to Kerry's second major problem -- the lack of interest or excitement among party operatives for another bid. When The Fix brings up Kerry's name to insiders -- those with ties to other candidates and those not yet affiliated -- it usually results in a groan (or worse). Despite his impressive resume, his fundraising potential and the fact that he came within 30,000 votes of winning the presidency in 2004, Kerry is simply not taken seriously among the staffers, consultants, lobbyists and other hangers-on who watch the 2008 jockeying with rapt interest.

Why? There seems to be a sense that Kerry had his chance in 2004 against a president anchored down by an unpopular war -- and he blew it. In the Monday morning quarterbacking that goes on after every election (and is magnified 100-fold in a presidential race), many Democrats thought Kerry ran a poor campaign -- taking too long to respond to the attacks on his military record and failing to settle on a simple, cohesive message and stick to it. (Kerry, himself, acknowledged as much during a recent appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press.")

The fact that Kerry is on the outs with the inside crowd could actually help him out among voters, as there is a considerable distaste for allowing inside the Beltway types to handpick nominees. If you need evidence, go back and listen to former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean's anti-Washington rhetoric during the last Democratic presidential nomination campaign -- a strategy that helped him rise from "who?" to the early 2004 frontrunner.

Even so, the disdain with which party insiders generally hold Kerry does have a practical effect on his chances. The "hot" candidates among the chattering class are more easily able to raise money for a prospective bid, recruit talented staff to their campaigns-in-waiting and enjoy better treatment from the media in the crucial 18 months before Iowa voters gather for the first-in-the-nation caucuses in January 2008. Being seen as yesterday's news within Washington can effectively blunt any momentum a candidate is building among the grassroots.

The final strike against Kerry is his perceived inability to take a firm stand and defend it -- especially on the war in Iraq.

Most Democrats were flabbergasted at Kerry's infamous "I actually voted before it before I voted against it" gaffe when asked about his decision to support the use of force resolution but oppose President Bush's request to fund the initial phase of the war. Kerry has gone to considerable lengths to make up for the ambiguity of his stance during the 2004 race (calling for the majority of American troops to be withdrawn from Iraq before the end of the year). But the calls of "flip flopper" have a permanent place in the minds of many aggrieved Democrats who remain unconvinced that Kerry could effectively foil that charge should he run again.

If Kerry chooses to remain on the sidelines in 2008, he would be courted relentlessly by the declared Democratic candidates for his endorsement, not to mention the massive e-mail list that he built up during his 2004 bid.

The question for Kerry is would he rather be the courted or the courter? We should know his final answer in the next nine months.

Read The Fix's cases for and against Al Gore, and for and against former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

By Chris Cillizza  |  April 20, 2006; 3:23 PM ET
Categories:  Democratic Party , Eye on 2008  
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Next: The Friday Line: Fla. Drops Off List of Top Govs. Races


funny ringtones

Posted by: | August 17, 2006 11:39 AM | Report abuse

I supported John Kerry in 2004 and I shall advocate his candidacy for 2008 as long as he is interested in the job.

President Bush represents the philosophy of keeping with your opinion on Wednesday that you had on Monday regardless of what happened on Tuesday. (apologies to Stephen Colbert)

John Kerry has demonstrated that he can change his opinion when events dictate his new direction. He is thoughtful and represents the best hope for the Democratic Party in 2008. Only he understands what it is like to be a soldier and being sent to war for a mistake.

For those who wish to use a formula, like a red-state governor, or a non-Senator, or whatever recipe that they call for. Forget it.

America needs leadership, not formulas. The last great Catholic Senator from Massachusetts to become President was John F. Kennedy. Need I say more?

Senator Kerry was smeared by the Republican smear machine that swift-boated him successfully keeping attention off the failures of this President. America is not easily fooled twice. However, it will be a disadvantage to offer new fodder to the Republicans. Let them play the old smears again on Kerry. You can't fool the American people twice.

Posted by: Robert | May 7, 2006 3:42 AM | Report abuse

Kerry should absolutly run again! With a new, strong running mate like Bill Richardson, Kerry would be in a great position to come back with a vengence! Now, with that said, I understand he is no Bill Clinton when it comes to charisma and charm, but if the choice is between Kerry and the robotic, disingenuous, posturing of a Hillary, than Kerry is the clear cut choice, hands down. (Hillary by the way, would be absolutly the worst Democratic candidate since George McGovern) Indeed, all this Kerry bashing by my fellow Democrats is really off-base and ridiculous. But I suppose its just your typical liberal cannibalism at its worst. (I am a conservative Democrat by the way). Then again what do liberals know about winning elections anyway? They've never won anything (see: Adlai Stevenson, George McGovern, Walter Mondale, Micheal Dukakis). True Democrats (FDR, Truman, JFK, LBJ, Clinton), were all "vital center" leaders, with true, All-American supra-partisan policies, and I believe John Kerry has what it takes to join that pantheon of great Democrats.

Posted by: Alex | April 27, 2006 1:50 PM | Report abuse

I was an early fan of Kerry's during the New Hampshire primary and John was the best retail campaigner I've ever seen (including Bill Clinton).

We were all down after 2004, he ran a decent campaign, but lost. However he got off his ass and kept working for other democrats. I think its amazing that democrats go through these soul searching periods, while republicans don't eat their young and keep moving forward.

The things that we fought for in 2004 ar still out there so I hope that Kerry runs again.

Posted by: Kirk | April 26, 2006 11:55 AM | Report abuse

It's hard to believe all the above comments concerning the best choice for Democrats in 2008. The only candidate with the expertise in foreign policy,who was against the war and testified before congress, who has the abilty, expertise, and experience in dealing with world leaders, who has a wide and varied record in all aspects of running a government. With his intelligence,"starch," experience, and charisma he could beat any republican candidate.


Check out and become informed
D. Millen

Posted by: D. Millen | April 25, 2006 6:34 PM | Report abuse

It's hard to believe all the above comments concerning the best choice for Democrats in 2008. The only candidate with the expertise in foreign policy,who was against the war and testified before congress, who has the abilty, expertise, and experience in dealing with world leaders, who has a wide and varied record in all aspects of running a government. With his intelligence,"starch," experience, and charisma he could beat any republican candidate.


Check out and become informed

Posted by: D. Millen | April 25, 2006 6:31 PM | Report abuse

I voted for kerry last election and if the democrats want to win in 08 they would do well to not nominate jhon kerry .
I do beleive he sold us out! If one remembers he was ahead of GW prior to the august recess & somehow in september he was tailing bush. All one had to do is read his face in those last months and you knew he was moving over for GW !

Posted by: eugene lemmons | April 24, 2006 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Wow, people just say anything they want in here and there seems to be correction of wrong information. Ok, let me start with the fact Teddy Roosevelt was an ELECTED governor of NY at the time he was chosen to be on the McKinley ticket for the president's second term. Taft has executive experience because McKinley has appointed his as the terrorial governor of the Philipines, purchased from Spain after our defeat of them in the war.

Herbert Hoover was the Secretary of Commerce and was given the support to become the next president by Calvin Coolidge. Hoover had a strong reputation for helping our states and world during a food crisis, and his library in Iowa shows clear evidence of why the people supported him as their president.

Kerry was on Meet the Press today, April 23, 2006 and gave such a poor performance that no Democrat with a realistic viewpoint of winning in 2008 would support him. Like it or not, his wife was the real flake of his campaign, and even Newsweek has exposed her strange behavior behind the scenes. Kerry is lucky the press protected his wife from being shown as a complaining "my feet hurt, why do we have to keep walking" whiner. Can you imagine how many votes Kerry would have lost if the media has reported the truth about Mrs. Heinz? Sorry, but it is the two for the price of one Democrats who started the mindset of how much influence and co-president style would be so welcomed by the voters in 1992. If you like Hillary and all her financial mess and her unethical lapses of judgement, jump on her 2008 train and ride it over a cliff.

Posted by: Susan | April 23, 2006 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Kerry would have been a good President, but there are better Democrats out there excluding Hillary who Kerry is way better. John Edwards has the knowledge, the understanding of geopolitics, the leadership, the capability, the morality, the strength, and the vision to be the next President of the United States. Those who think that John Edwards does not have the foreign policy understanding to be President does not know of his work on the Select Com. on Intelligence or his work on the foreign policy think tank. John Edwards in 2004, was the domestic guy his job was to covince Americans that Kerry/Edwards team have the right domestic policies (which they won all domestic issues). Edwards with his vast foreign policy and national security credentials, plus his comprehensive knowledge on domestic issues is the right man to lead this country. Unlike Kerry and Hillary, Edwards has been known for his ability to win over conservative and moderate Republicans and Independents something the Democratic Party needs in a Presidential candidate. Getting back to the topic, should Kerry run? He can go ahead but it is not going to do anygood because John R. Edwards is going to win the nomination.

Posted by: PopulistDemocrat | April 22, 2006 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Jim Preston seems to have a burr in his bonnet about Bush, but the fact is that he was Governor for almost 5 years, and that is the executive experience voters want in the Oval Office instead of a senator who gives long boring speeches. That is why only 2 senators have been elected directly as president in the last century, and you can do some research to find out who they are.
The future of our nation will be who has a record of performance and experience in handling affairs of state. No senator brings that to the table.
Kerry offers nothing but more finger wagging, and if the Dems can only offer more anti-Bush rhetoric, they will lose the 2008 race.
Jim Preston is an example of calling a governor elected by the people of his own state an "amateur". Would he have said the same of Carter or Clinton who lacked foreign policy experience as well?
Carter lost in 1980 for being a wimp, that is a fact which he will never live down.
The pacifists offer the US nothing.

Posted by: Sandy | April 22, 2006 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Kerry won Iowa because he used his $6 million personal funds to finance his failed campaign. He was the last man standing after Dean and Gephardt shot each other with their mouths in those attacks ads and debate shots before the January 2004 caucus.
After that, Kerry just stood above the SCREAM, to win the most delegates against Boy Wonder Edwards.
Kerry won anti-Bush votes in 2004, but few people really liked him or wanted him in the Oval Office.
Kerry and Gore are DEAD meat, both wooden and stiff.
If the Dems fail to put a strong effective leader on their ticket in 2008, the Republicans will win NO matter who is on the ticket.
The Dems offer no solutions, no leadership, no plans for our nation. That is why they keep losing.

Posted by: Julie Thompson | April 22, 2006 1:03 PM | Report abuse

I enjoy reading these posts. I must say that handicapping 2008 early in 2006 is hazardous. Conventional wisdom had annointed Edmund Muskie for 72, Gary Hart for 88, Mario Cuomo for 88 and 92. Politics happens and the one safe prediction for '08 is that something unpredictable will happen to affect the race.

Jason- I think it is not so clear as to what would have happened if McCain had been the president who invaded Iraq. I am not sure he would have made that decision based on the intelligence we now know was available at the time. That is a very different proposition than supporting another president's decision. In any event, if he had invaded I believe he would have committed more troops to the initial invasion and occupation. That would have allowed us to stabilize the situation much more quickly. I do not believe that a McCain administration would have blithely assumed that we would be welcomed as liberators by all as the neo-cons did. I believe that a McCain administration would have carefully planned for the post-war situation. A McCain administration would have planned for a variety of contingencies in the post-war situation and have developed plans to deal with them. The situation in Iraq would have been much different if we had gone in with the 200,000 or so troops General Shineski (Army chief of staff at the time) had recommended (his reward was a public rebuke from Field Marshall Rumsfeld). If we had been able to really secure the situation and had been able to effect some infrastructure repairs quickly, if we had just purged the hard-core Sadaamists and employed the Iraqi army in peacekeeping.... things would be very different today. I personally believe that the mis-management of the war is a far more serious indictment of the Bush administration than the decision to go to war. And I do believe that it has been clearly demonstrated that Bush invaded Iraq because that was his agenda all along. I think that Bush & the neo-cons BELIEVED Sadaam had WMD and BELIEVED he was helping terrorists and that all the intelligence in the world was not going to disabuse their belief in these things. Because they KNEW. One of the reasons I don't care for ideologues of the left or the right is that they will not admit the existence of inconvenient facts that contradict some of their articles of faith.

Posted by: Jim D | April 22, 2006 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Well Penny, we do have credible candidates, like Mark Warner and John Edwards. Evan Bayh needs to work on his charisma, but he'd make a strong candidate too. The problem is that the media loves writing about drama, and Kerry and Hillary are where the drama's at. The last presidential loser running again...a former first lady turned senator seeking her husband's old job. What's not to love if you're looking for good ratings/circulation. But the candidates good for circulation are not the ones who'd make the best presidents. For Democrats, it was necessary to support Kerry after he got the nomination to defeat Bush. But it's not necessary now since former candidates can't just automatically get the nomination. As a Democrat, I honestly don't think Kerry would make a good president. Given the way he ran his campaign, I'd hate to see how he'd run his White House. He got tied into knots over obvious decisions such as responding to the Swift Boaters and what to make his campaign about. Kerry's time in the Senate has seriously addled any campaign skills he might have ever had. The slow process of the Senate made it impossible for him to make the rapid-fire decision a presidential candidate has to make. The style of speaking he developed as a senator is horrible and has not changed since he lost in 2004. Another problem of Kerry's is that he got used to running horrible campaigns at first and then making a stunning comeback and winning. He followed this in his '96 Senate campaign and in the '04 presidential primaries. He tried it again in the general election and it didn't work. We can only run a presidential candidate once every 4 years and I don't think John Kerry is worth the risk. Kerry will be embarassed in the 2008 primaries if he makes the mistake of running. He had his chance and he blew it. Now he needs to sit out, throw his support behind someone else, and get appointed Secretary of State to cap off his political career.

Posted by: Q | April 22, 2006 4:16 AM | Report abuse

Kerry or Hilary Clinton are excellent choices for the Democratic presidential nomination. I just can not decide which has more baggage or more insincerity. Democrats need to find more creditable candidates.

Posted by: Penny | April 21, 2006 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Naderites are just downright hilarious. They say Democrats and Republicans are the same. Oh really? So Gore would have invaded Iraq? He'd make deforestation his anti-wild fire policy? He'd have ordered warrantless wiretapping? He'd have given massive tax cuts to the wealthy? Gore wasn't pure enough for the high moral standards of the Nader voters because he didn't talk enough about his favorite tree. All of the people who want to get rid of the 2-party system are nuts. You hear me? Nuts! Our entire electoral system favors 2 parties. If you split your vote, you lose. If we had 2 liberal parties, Republicans could go far right and win every election with 40 percent of the vote. If you voted for Nader, you voted for Bush. If you're still glad about voting for Nader, even though put in a president who undermines everything Nader is for, then you might as well be a Republican.

Posted by: Q | April 21, 2006 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Ya know, John Kerry won the second highest number of votes in US history... People said he failed to get the youth vote out, etc. but they DID come out, its just that so did the religious right.. hardcore. I wasn't JK's biggest fan but it was a difficult task.

As for Hlllary and Gore.. The latter has a new passion and real personality to him and should not be counted out. He won once before by running robotically on autopilot.. Now he could be on fire and with nothing to lose, become somewhat of a maverick.

Mrs Clinton has kept a pretty low profile and the electorate will be very different than it was in 1992 when the last Clinton ran. You can't assume anything with her.

Although, if the Dems take over this fall and impeachment/conviction/resignation become a plausible reality for Bush-Cheney, Nancy Pelosi's place holder status in the white house would deminish Clinton's first woman appeal.

Posted by: Ryan | April 21, 2006 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Sure, Kerry would beat Bush if the election were held today, but so would any other Democrat. When it comes to who you want to be President, if you're a Democrat, John Kerry probably is not at the top of your list. Kerry is making the mistake of assuming that his personal popularity got him all of the money and support he received in '04. Furthermore, he wants us to believe that nobody could have beaten Bush, which is ridiculous. If Bush was unbeatable, he'd have run a campaign about himself, not about John Kerry. The reason the Bush campaign was so negative was that they knew people wanted another president and the only way to win was to convince people that you couldn't have Kerry as president. BTW, the reason that Democrats don't give candidates a second chance is that usually Democrats lose after running absolutely awful campaigns. So McGovern would not be given a shot because he lost 49 states...not exactly a winner. Gephardt was a one issue candidate and he'd supported the Iraq war. Jerry Brown is just...well, a little crazy. If Kerry's smart, he'll pass on '08 and throw his support behind the likely nominee at the most opportune time. Then he can lobby for Secretary of State and put a nice finishing touch on his political career.

Posted by: Q | April 21, 2006 4:41 PM | Report abuse

It would be like Tom Dewey running in 1952--although he was a 2 time loser the sorest spot for Republicans is that Dewey blew the 1948 election. Kerry blew the 2004 election. If the convention is deadlocked, maybe then, but few will want to give him a second chance when he blew his first.

Posted by: Bladerunner | April 21, 2006 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Kerry will not win the nomination in 2008, the Dems won't allow the RETREAD logo to be the start of their campaign.

Kerry won the nomination because the party wanted to run the "anti-Bush" campaign, no matter who it was. Get the nominatin over quickly so they did not have to waste time or money on attacking each other, but use that time and money instead to attack the Bush/GOP races. It failed, even with George Soros dumping $16 million on 527 groups to attack Bush along with Dan Rather and his CBS power trying to clobber Bush. On election night, it was amazing to see 3 million more people had voted for Bush, and he won clearly the elecotral college.
Kerry is a loser, Gore is a loser, so you Dems better find a strong leader for 2008 or you guys are toast.

Posted by: Susan | April 21, 2006 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Cape MH and Karl, your posts nailed it for me. As far as history being unkind to John Kerry, he now has the benefit of "I told you so." As far as being on the outs with the Washington insiders, who cares! In the weeks/months prior to the nomination, everyone had written JK off! And as far as John being deemed a flip-flopper, his decency and integrity are quite able to turn this into admitting he is quite capable of changing his mind & admitting he was wrong based on facts he had at the time. Run John run!

Posted by: slavin | April 21, 2006 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Dan W, you just described John Kerry's positions -- except for voting against the war. And how he voted "based on the information he had" described yours. While Howard Dean had the Scream, John had the Ugly Mustard Barn Jacket he wore on every campaign stop. That's not a man who always listens to his speechwriters/handlers.

Posted by: slavin | April 21, 2006 2:15 PM | Report abuse

If so many people think the war is going badly and want them to come back soon, why would Sen. McCain be considered a front runner since if he was President, we would likely be there longer with MORE troops in harms way and with a stronger possibility for the draft?

Posted by: Jason | April 21, 2006 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Dan W

Sorry, I guess I did not read the relevant posts carefully. But it is interesting that in the last century the Republicans did nominate several candidates who had not held elective office before - Theodore Roosevelt (until he ran for VP with McKinley), Taft, Hoover, Wilkie and Eisenhower. They also nominated several others who were not holding elective office at the time of their nomination - Charles Evans Hughes in '16, Nixon in 68, Reagan in '80 and Dole in '96 (although he had only just resigned). Bush I had not held elective office since the 1960's when he was elected VP in '80. The Democrats also nominated formers - William Jennings Bryan had been a congressman in the early 1890's but was out of office when nominated for president in 1896, 1900 and 1908. John Davis (1924) had been a congressman some years before and then was Solictor General and Ambassador to the UK under Wilson. Adali Stevenson was out of office when he ran and lost for the second time in 1956. Carter and Mondale were out of office when they ran in '76 and '84. So the Dems have nominated some formers and also rans but not much lately. As for the posts about senators versus governors, Warren Harding and John Kennedy were the only two sitting senators elected president in the 20th century. Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Clinton, and Bush II were sitting governors and Coolidge, Carter and Reagan had been governors. Truman, Johnson and Nixon were former senators who became VPs. Governors (or ex-governors) who ran unsuccessfully for president include: Hughes(16), Cox (20), Smith (28), Landon (32), Dewey (44 & 48), Stevenson (52 & 56), and Dukakis (88). The Republicans and the Democrats each had 2 unsuccessful senators nominated - Goldwater (64), McGovern (72), Dole (96 - I know he resigned a few months earlier) and Kerry (04). History might say that Gov Bill Richardson would be the ideal candidate - ex-congressman, cabinet officer, ambassador, and current governor from the Southwest. He is an Hispanic with an anglo name and a reputation for working well with both parties. His biggest drawback is the fiasco with Wen Ho Lee at Los Alamos. History favors governors and vice-presidents.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 21, 2006 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Sorry but I don't see it. The Independents who voted against Kerry and the Independents who voted against Bush are going to evaluate the candidates without regard for how they voted in '04.

Kerry can say he isn't Bush, But the independents are going to look past that and ask, "Well if you aren't Bush then who the Hell are you? Why are you better than McCain, Condi or Romney?"

Posted by: Dan | April 21, 2006 1:31 PM | Report abuse

I think that Kerry has a very good chance at winning this time for the simple reason that nearly everyone who voted for Bush is now questioning their decision. I have a variation on the campaign slogan " I'm not him, I have scruples."

Posted by: Ankana | April 21, 2006 1:06 PM | Report abuse

I think that Kerry has a very good chance at winning this time for the simple reason that nearly everyone who voted for Bush is now questioning their decision. I have a variation on the campaign slogan " I'm not him, I have scruples."

Posted by: Ankana | April 21, 2006 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Colin, since you asked:

Howard Dean has been accused of being "socially liberal, while fiscally conservative." I can't think of a better thing for a candidate for Pres to be accused of. He should grab that and run with it. I think most Americans are in favor of Responsible Social Programs. Our level of willingness to pay for them is the divide. The middle is made of people who want a balance between Social Programs and low spending. I think it was once called "Good government".

Dean is "Spiritual rather than Religious". His accusations that the Reps are a "White Christian Party" carry weight in my head. Though I am against using race in any way to divide please allow me to ignore that part and move to the other half of the statement [ducks flames]. The Rep party has been hi-jacked by the religious right. Religion has NO place in our politics. I feel Dean understands this. He would have been the candidate least likely to force a religious view upon the populous as a whole.

He got health care for all the children in the state. Balanced. Not overdone. And leads to the belief that Health care is a state issue. If a state wants health care the voters will get it for themselves.

Balanced Budget. Do I really need to comment on this one?

Favors Campaign Finance Reform. Ditto.

Had the guts to stand up to the war when it was unpopular to do so. While I personally was a supporter for the ousting based on the information I was given at the time, I still have to give him credit for having an original idea and not changing it based on the poll results.

I feel he wants a balance for gay rights. While I think civil unions smack of "Separate but un-equal" at least he was not advocating changing the Constitution to include descrimination against a group of Amaericans.

While I can't find any hint on his abortion stance, his comments against the religious right lead me to suspect he is a hands off person in this regard.

Dean Scream. I actually took this as an attempt by a politician to reach out to his voters and appear as more than just another stuffed shirt reading what his speechwriters had prepared. I Hate listening to speechwriters comments.

So yes Colin, I am an Unenrolled that leans to the right, but I am also very much against the far right. When I see someone trying to embrace the middle I try to look beyond the Dem/Rep label and see if there is a person there that I can vote for.

Posted by: Dan W | April 21, 2006 10:28 AM | Report abuse

The best candidate for the Democrats is someone who is most likely to pick up one or more of Bush's 2004 states, and not lose any of Kerry's. That means, some Bush voters are going to have to switch parties. To me, the most likely person to accomplish that is, probably, Kerry, under the theory that enough independent voters will think, "Gee, I made a big mistake in 2004; maybe Kerry wasn't so bad after all." Also, any negatives on Kerry have been thoroughly vetted - the Vietnam War stuff probably won't play as well in a rerun. A new Democrat, on the other hand, will be a source of new (and possibly unknown) negatives. I wasn't a huge Kerry fan, but I think he's got the best chance to win in 2008.

Posted by: Bob R | April 21, 2006 9:40 AM | Report abuse


My mistake. I missed the second election of Cox(he was defetaed in 1915 and then re-elected in 1917).


Posted by: RMill | April 21, 2006 8:36 AM | Report abuse


Wilkie ran as a Republican. I was only listing Democrats as these "rules" were to only apply to the quirks of that party.

R's are more likely to nominate and elect formers and also rans, as noted in CC original article.

Posted by: RMill | April 21, 2006 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Lets face it if the Republicans nominate Mcain or Giuliani then the democrats wont stand a chance...If its anyone else then the Democrats only chance would be Howard Dean (or maybe Al Gore - I havent ruled him out completely) with sentator Barbara Boxer (Calif) as vice...I'm surprised no-one has mentioned her throwing her hat in the ring...She's better than Clinton, has foreign affairs experience and has great fundraising potential.

Posted by: Matt | April 21, 2006 5:46 AM | Report abuse

I don't really care who the Dem's pick to run against McCain in 08'. But the party that endorses the "Fair Tax" will undoubtably win my vote. Check it out if you dare.

Posted by: Patriot | April 21, 2006 1:36 AM | Report abuse

Kerry is a buffoon

How pathetic

Posted by: Sandy | April 21, 2006 1:03 AM | Report abuse

Kerry voted for the Iraq War and although a news item said he is circulating a petition to get the troops home, he seems to be the truth of what Nader observed: Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

The horror that they choose political stands based on the winds blowing, not genuine solid position that is worth taking for the present and the future.


Nader offers true democratic government for people not corporations. The two party system, should be well challenged in 2008, as Nader has begun to show. Whether or not HE will run again, some have asked me, because I am such a fan. I do not know what his position on that is. My position is that in both elections, 2000 and 2004 he was a REAL challenging candidate, and the race against political corruption and cynical views that have no proper place in politics have to be ousted.

Posted by: Elizabeth O. Ellis | April 21, 2006 12:00 AM | Report abuse

Kerry voted for the Iraq War and although a news item said he is circulating a petition to get the troops home, he seems to be the truth of what Nader observed: Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

The horror that they choose political stands based on the winds blowing, not genuine solid position that is worth taking for the present and the future.

Nader offers true democratic government for people not corporations. The two party system, should be well challenged in 2008, as Nader has begun to show. Whether or not HE will run again, some have asked me, because I am such a fan. I do not know what his position on that is. My position is that in both elections, 2000 and 2004 he was a REAL challenging candidate, and the race against political corruption and cynical views that have no proper place in politics have to be ousted.

Posted by: Elizabeth Ellis | April 20, 2006 11:58 PM | Report abuse

Kerry voted for the Iraq War and although a news item said he is circulating a petition to get the troops home, he seems to be the truth of what Nader observed: Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

The horror that they choose political stands based on the winds blowing, not genuine solid position that is worth taking for the present and the future.

Nader offers true democratic government for people not corporations. The two party system, should be well challenged in 2008, as Nader has begun to show. Whether or not HE will run again, some have asked me, because I am such a fan. I do not know what his position on that is. My position is that in both elections, 2000 and 2004 he was a REAL challenging candidate, and the race against political corruption and cynical views that have no proper place in politics have to be ousted.

Posted by: Elizabeth Ellis | April 20, 2006 11:58 PM | Report abuse

there's a definite lack in you.


Posted by: well judging from your abilities to assess character... | April 20, 2006 11:35 PM | Report abuse

Wendell Wilkie, the 1940 Republican nominee, was a non-politician.

Posted by: Jim D | April 20, 2006 11:05 PM | Report abuse

IF Clinton and Kerry are left-wing extremists, then this country is in even worse trouble than I thought. Kerry is a moderate (very moderate) liberal. Clinton is a double-dealing, center-of-the-road, certified, do-nothing-ist. I'd like to know what those Southern states that we "have to have" to win think a centrist candidate looks like. Then I could be sure to vote against that person!

Posted by: Susan H | April 20, 2006 10:55 PM | Report abuse

I have just two words about Kerry's second run at the Presidency. N.O.

Posted by: Susan H | April 20, 2006 10:44 PM | Report abuse

Obama is too young, and I don't think he's quite ready for prime-time. He will be though. Just give him some time. The media's coronating him too early, and raising expectations. He's been in the U.S. Senate a year and a half! Let Obama establish himself first. His time will come.

As for Kerry, Gore and HRC: If any one of them is the nominee, then you can kiss the presidency goodbye for the Democrats. 2008 will be the year of the moderate, and none of the aforementioned (Kerry, Gore or HRC--well, Clinton has been trying) fits that bill.

It's time for some fresh faces.

Posted by: stevend | April 20, 2006 8:42 PM | Report abuse

Hillary Clinton will be the 44th President of the United States of America.

Posted by: joefer | April 20, 2006 8:16 PM | Report abuse

HRC's inability to speak in the same accent --going from deep hillbilly to Brooklynese in the span of a decade is probably what reinforces the sense of inconsistency about her to me. I admit that's not the same as solid evidence of policy wobbling, but it's still disconcerting.

I think Hillary has been coherent in her middle east policies, which is not a good qualification in the current times. Her embrace and almost immediate distancing from Suha Arafat seems odd. Perhaps I've only read distored versions of it?

Her legislation to protect Eli Lilly from lawsuits before data on thimerosal had been given a pubic hearing doesn't seem consistent with her other stances or with open government. The episode with the missing FBI files is also disturbing, though also not, I'll grant, a case of wavering. After 2 terms with Bush, I'd like to see someone clean in the oval office, and I have big doubts about her on that score.

But I take your point, & will research to see if my perceptions are correct, or if perhaps I've just bought the image her enemies have crafted.

Posted by: Sage Thrasher | April 20, 2006 7:43 PM | Report abuse

being a former governor is probably the best thing you can be. Fresh from executive experience and with plenty of time on your hands. Just ask Reagan. So I guess Vilsack and Warner are still in this thing

Posted by: Scott | April 20, 2006 7:29 PM | Report abuse


1) What is a "strong" candidate? Edwards and Obama are bright, but do they have the basic background knowledge of the world and the governing experience to succeed as President.

Passion and guts are not enough anymore to deal with the "new World Order"

2) Quite by accident I found thus recently re-read BF Skinner's book, "Beyond Freedom and Dignity." And 25 plus years later it seems our national politicans have not even begun to learn some of the basic skills of cultural understanding and governance he implies a leader should have.

3) I always liked Senator Hollings remark, "If elected I will fire the pollsters and hire two historians." And GHW Bush's remark that after Clinton's election he "lost at golf more frequently."

4) Also someone who knows that the people who helped elect him or her President are not necessarily those who can help him or her govern well.

5) The only really world class inspired person I see in either field is Hillary. But we do not know how well she could govern.

6) I think McCain has made a deal with the devil in dealing with the Christian Republicans which will prevent him from governing well if elected. They turn gold to lead by their very presence in any political process.

Posted by: Kurt | April 20, 2006 7:28 PM | Report abuse

are what the Republicans have generated. and are doing on this blogsite...

I would imagine, you could post here and effect whether or not certain people actually ran based upon giving them false poll results.

like Ohio, and New Hampshire or was that Vermont.


Posted by: I think that people's perceptions of both people | April 20, 2006 7:23 PM | Report abuse

favors that it gets you and your family?

Posted by: power for it's own sake or for the | April 20, 2006 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Sage Thrasher -- Everyone always talks about how HRC is constantly reinventing herself and changing positions, but when specifically has she done that?

She says pro-choicers ought to be concerned with preventing abortions and the nation gasps - Hillary is changing her position!! - yet that's exactly what she and Bill have always said. Honestly, I'd be interested to know of any specific issues where she's changed her position.

Fair or not, I think people's perceptions about Hillary (and Kerry) - even though they're incorrect and unfair - may be too difficult to dispell. That's why I would prefer a new candidate like Warner...

Posted by: Colin | April 20, 2006 7:20 PM | Report abuse

rather than trying to fit the script that they think people want to hear.


Posted by: Actually any of them could win if they would be who they are, | April 20, 2006 7:18 PM | Report abuse

poverty in the south has risen.

there are fewer jobs now than ever, it's ripe for a little rhetoric...

homophobia may not win the election this time though, and church lady morality? I don't think so.

I could pretty effectively nuetralize rove though.


Posted by: the problem with you people is that you think the rest of the country will remain the same... | April 20, 2006 7:16 PM | Report abuse

I mean, yogi berra could have run against bush's background...

and come off looking better.

draft dodger, alcoholic, coke addict, daddy's boy.

plus the front page of every newspaper, website, television newsfeed consistently posted:

Iraq "war" news...3 dead, dog run over during invasion....

Kerry was on page 3.

but he never complained.

he's either a nice guy, or he took a dive.

my money is on his diving ability, bush is about as dangerous to debate as alfred e. neumann.


Posted by: my impression was he didn't want to win.. | April 20, 2006 7:13 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Karen on Kerry: Yaargh! I held my nose and voted for him anyway, but I'm a dyed in the wool Dem. Gore was the yellow dog; Kerry was the yellow pup. Please, John, just go away.

As for HRC, why not just elect a windsop? Her constant "reinvention" of herself, her policies, and her values makes Kerry's backbone seem rigid. On accents alone she does more than Peter Sellers!

I might vote for her, if the Republicans couldn't do better than a Bush clone, but I could never be enthusiastic about anyone who seems to pursue power merely for its own sake or for her own ego's gratification.

Posted by: Sage Thrasher | April 20, 2006 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Well I guess the freaks are out tonight. Kerry is a good man who lost a close election, losing by 120,000 votes in a fraud torn state against a bunch of liars.

Kerry's better than Hillary, Warner, Gore or the rest of the also-rans. He'd beat any Republican but McCain, and I doubt McCain will get the nomination.

Finally, Kerry would have been a much better president than Chimpy and the past two years have proven it. I think buyers remorse will count for something in 2008 as all but the kool-aid drinkers realize what voting for Bush has cost them.

Of course I am pro Feingold with Clark a hot second, but Kerry would have been a great president. If can get the nomination, I'll be proud to support him again.

Posted by: Greg in NY | April 20, 2006 6:47 PM | Report abuse

The problem with Edwards and Obama - and I love both of them, would vote for either in a heartbeat - is their lack of experience, especially in foreign affairs. R's like to remind everyone we are a country at war and I'm not sure either Obama or Edwards has got the ability to gain the swing voters trust on Terror - especially if they are up against McCain.

Posted by: Chris | April 20, 2006 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Kerry, Hillary, Gore, and all the other been there done that campaigners need to put their own personal wants and needs aside and this time let someone without all the baggage run for President. This country is in the worst shape its been in years, our deficit keeps soaring and Bush and the Republicans plan to keep it that way, the war in Iraq, irregardless of what anyone says, is a civil war and it doesn't look like we are going to be leaving any time soon. Healthcare or lack thereof for most middle class americans is getting to the point of being beyond reach, gas prices skyrocketing, I have beach front property in Idaho to sell if you think their going down soon! Our borders are left wide open and the crooks are in charge of the corporations, and the white house, so please do the world a favor and especially for the american people do not run. Support a strong candiate that has a brain, which will really be different since we've been dealing with the tin man, the lion and scarecrow for the past seven years or so. And everyone for God's sake be on the same page. Their turning Rove loose again, so be prepared for lies, dirt and a down and dirty campain. I for one would have preferred John Edwards as the Presidential candiate, or Obama, or anyone who has some common sense and hasn't been in Washington so long that their a fixture! This country needs a strong candiate and some of the common sense economic policies that Clinton brought into office. Thanks Sue F

Posted by: Sue F | April 20, 2006 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Dan W. thinks that had Dean been the Democrats candidate he'd "have pulled that extra 2% of younger voters and been elected."
Maybe he'd have motivated that elusive young voter (who we hear so much about before an election, but are nowhere to be found on election day) BUT Dean would have lost 30% of the voters who actually voted
for Kerry.

Posted by: Bill B. | April 20, 2006 6:41 PM | Report abuse

James Cox, the 1920 Democratic nominee, was not a "non-politician." He was Governor of Ohio.

Chris is also wrong when he says, "In the past four decades, every Republican presidential nominee (other than the current president) ran unsuccessfully for the party nomination at least once before actually winning it."

That is not true. Richard Nixon ran for president in 1968 (within the last 40 years). He had SUCCESSFULLY sought the nomination in 1960 - he had never UNSUCCESSFULLY sought the nomination.

Also, in 1976, President Ford won the nomination without previously having sought it.

Posted by: thv | April 20, 2006 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Dan W - From your most recent post it sounded like you were saying you would have voted for Dean over Bush. Is that right?

If so I'm somewhat surprised, since that's the first time I've actually seen you mention a Democrat you would vote for. I know you identify as an Inde, but it seems you STRONGLY favor Republicans. What exactly about Dean did you find appealing?

For what it's worth, I personally think that Dean was/is a very moderate Democrat on almost all issues other than the War. Pro-gun rights, fiscally very conservative (big-time budget balancer, etc.), actually held back spending while a Governor despite the wishes of a Democratic controlled state legislature.

Anyway, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on Dean and/or other specific Dems you would actually support.

Posted by: Colin | April 20, 2006 6:34 PM | Report abuse

I think it is too bad that Kerry didn't win in 2004 but it was an uphill fight. However, that doesn't preclude him from winning in 2008. I think that Obama would be a good VP choice. I however, think that it would be a good deal to have an Edwards/Obama ticket or HRC/Edwards ticket. This could give balance. As for getting the red state vote in most cases that is impossible without changing the complete direction of the Democratic Party.

Posted by: reececonrad | April 20, 2006 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Kerry is a buffoon. A BUFFOON I say! You hear me, Kerry is a buffoon and I FINALLY have a thread where it makes sense to say it!!!!!


Posted by: Karen | April 20, 2006 6:28 PM | Report abuse

jim: Maybe the people prefer former Governors since 1976 (Carter),only Bush Sr. wasn't a Governor. Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and George W. were Governors. If my memory serves me right I believe the person that the four former Governors ran against was never a governor either and that person lost. Maybe its all chance but it does seem to be something to take into account.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 20, 2006 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Now there's two of them said: "I'm lookin' on the ground at two horses beaten to death. One's named Gore, the other Kerry. Why dy'all keep beaten away when they're already dead?"

When dealing with dead horses, the Democrates always seem to:
1) Change riders (keep reinventing them selves to change their voting base)
2) Try to increase the dead horse's performance (have them move left, center, or right)
3) Form a committee to study the dead horse
4) Harness several dead horses together to increase speed (Gore / Clinton ticket?)
5) Declare that a dead horse is better, faster and cheaper (a.k.a. passing them off as experienced)
6) Purchase advertising to make a dead horse run better
7) Promote the dead horse to a lead position (Howard Dean)

Posted by: Anonymous | April 20, 2006 6:17 PM | Report abuse

This "Governors are better" theme is nonsense! Given that foreign policy will play a bigger part in the election than at any time since Vietnam, a candidate without significant foreign policy experience will look totally out of place in comparison to a McCain, Condi, Newt, etc. This is NOT the 2000-economy-is-great-US-is-all-powerful
election. The voters tried "moderate amateur governor" when they voted for Bush. They may want to avoid that mistake in the future.

Posted by: jim preston | April 20, 2006 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Recent history has shown "Former (Fill in the Blank)" has not worked well, but between 1968 and 1980 the winner was a former somebody or a reeelected former somebody. Nixon was former VP and Gov in 68, then reelected in 72, Carter was former Gov of GA in 76 and Reagan was former Gov of CA. It hasn't worked since, but I'm not convinced it's because anything has changed since then, seems more likely it is just the odds evening out a bit after a run of non sitting officials winning the Presidency. I think what is more important is that the candidate have enough clout or gravitas either through current office or past accomplishments to be seen as a possible President. In that sense I agree with you that Edwards and even Clark could be in trouble. Gore could be different, he won the polpular vote in 2000, and I bet if the country could take back the past 6 years and go with him instead he'd win 60%. Not going against W in 08 complicates things and he has to show that he is a better campaigner, but he seems different now so I wouldn't rule out his chances.

Posted by: Chris | April 20, 2006 6:09 PM | Report abuse

For starters the Democrats need to stop jokers like Kucinich and Sharpton from participating in pre-nomination debates. They not only make the debates meaningless, they turn off many voters who are amazed that any one in their right mind would even put these names in a sentence with the word "president."
And if a Democrat is going to be elected president it will have to be a qualified person who doesn't pander to the radical left in order to get nominated.
It's not Republican propaganda that has made voters "perceive" most Democratic presidential candidates as too far to the left; it's their record and history.

Posted by: Robert T. | April 20, 2006 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Sage said "But running Kerry on the ticket in 2008 would guarantee once more veterans and active duty military would refuse to vote for the Democratic ticket."

Especially if the Rep candidate was McCain. If the war records were compared, I'd think McCain would win big time.

Posted by: Alan | April 20, 2006 6:06 PM | Report abuse

I tend to favor Governors who later run for President. IMHO, I think Governors have a better understanding of what it is to be the top executive in a Gov't than a Senator or Representative. Starting with Carter, wasn't Bush, Sr. the last President that was never a Governor?

Posted by: Alan | April 20, 2006 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Re last post: I should have said "all these formers and incumbents"

Posted by: Eric Yendall | April 20, 2006 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Should also mention that former Vice President Mondale, who lost on the 1980 ticket, got the nomination in 1984- he lost.

Posted by: RMill | April 20, 2006 5:57 PM | Report abuse

RMill-interesting point. I would characterise all these "formers" as unexciting, conventional political journeymen. Hillary Clinton blew it by becoming a Senator and thus an insider. Any buzz and momentum she might have generated as the first female Presidential candidate is totally non-existent. Your residual list of possibilities doesn't inspire. Barack Obama has the necessary buzz but I know nothing of his capacity to inspire and lead.

Posted by: Eric Yendall | April 20, 2006 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Historical Note: At the beginning of the twentieth century, William Jennings Bryan tried three times and failed. Only non-politican Cox in 1920 was a newspaper publisher. He lost too.

Posted by: RMill | April 20, 2006 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Eliminating also-rans and sitting US Senators, you also have to consider anyone with "former-" in their primary title.

Former Governor Dean lost
Former Senator Tsongas lost

1976 was the last (and only in recent memory)former anything- Governor (Carter) to win the nomination.

Now you are really narrowing the current field.

Clinton- sitting Senator
Kerry- sitting Senator and also ran
Bayh- sitting Senator
Warner- former Governor
Edwards- former Senator and also ran
Feingold- sitting Senator
Clark- former General and also ran
Vilsack- former Governor
Biden- sitting Senator and also ran
Gore- former Vice President and also ran
Schumer- sitting Senator
Obama- sitting US Senator

This leaves New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano as candidate sthat have been mentioned for 2008 that do not have any of these labels.

Posted by: RMill | April 20, 2006 5:46 PM | Report abuse

How about Barack Obama? What do you think it would take to get him in the running. It would be the Kennedy Nixon upset all over again, no matter who he runs against.

Posted by: ajsa | April 20, 2006 5:39 PM | Report abuse

John Kerry is a fine person who would make a good President. He deserves the respect and support of all Democrats All that however is beside the point. For a Democrat to be elected President, he/she has to get the votes of non-democrats-the undecided/confused/uncertain middle. Such a candidate has to be exciting, reassuring, inspiring and believable. Kerry, Gore and Clinton don't measure-up. Bush could only have won two elections with help from the Democrats. Who do the Democrats have to offer now?

Posted by: Eric Yendall | April 20, 2006 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Ironically, I think Dean have enough support from the younger voters that he could have pulled the extra 2%. Dean would have been my choice.

Dan S - Thank you.

Posted by: Dan W | April 20, 2006 5:34 PM | Report abuse

I agree that a centrist Democrat is electable. People have different views about where the center actually is. Conservatives see it as slightly to their left and Liberals see it as slightly to their right. ANY Democrat will be labelled a liberal by the Republicans. There probably will not be a single GOP attack ad that does not put liberal in every sentence mentioning the Democratic nominee. Of course, the Democrats will harp on the "far right" and extremism. The nominee's demeanor and ability to connect with mainstream Americans will be critical in establishing centrist credentials.

Posted by: Jim D | April 20, 2006 5:30 PM | Report abuse

The only thing John Kerry had going for him in the primaries was that he was not Howard Dean (and therefore was seen as safe and electable), and the only thing he had going for him in the general was that he was not GWB. Being not-Dean was enough to win a plurality of the Democratic Party (and thus the nomination), but that's not good enough in the general. 49% of America wanted anyone but Bush, but to get that extra 2%, we need someone with more than John Kerry has to offer.

And Dan W - thanks for the change.

Posted by: Dan S | April 20, 2006 5:27 PM | Report abuse

You may be right about Kerry beating Bush today, but I still have my doubts that he'd win even now.

But of course in 2008 he won't be running against Bush. If McCain or other non-administration pol is the nominee, that candidate would be in a good position to distance themselves from the more unpopular aspects of the Bush administration, like, the secretary of defense, say. So Kerry, with all his baggage, would be running against someone with less baggage then W. had in 2004. Not a bet I would take, though I can't think of a nationally prominent Democrat who doesn't have a largely negative image with too many of the voters.

Hillary? Richardson (remember his management of Los Alamos?)? The field as it is just begs for a dark horse.

Posted by: Sage Thrasher | April 20, 2006 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Gore's case is somewhat different, having been "elected Vice President".

The previous case of a losing Democratic candidate regaining nomination was Adlai Stevenson's successive losses to Ike in 1952 and 1956.

Posted by: RMill | April 20, 2006 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Dan W: I agree that a recall would be largely Bush v. Not Bush, but I think Bush would still beat a far left Not Bush (e.g. Feingold). Furthermore, Kerry got nearly 50% of the vote last time. I think that makes him pretty centrist, by definition. Furthermore, the different political climate these days make his positions even more widely accepted than last time.

Posted by: ajsa | April 20, 2006 5:25 PM | Report abuse

ajsa: There is a flaw in that logic. Bush would lose to the Not Bush if the election were tomorrow; but has no bearing on the Centrist/Left position of Kerry.

Kerry would not be going against Bush again so the "I'm not Bush" won't work. He would actually have to campaign on a specific message. He has not been known for presenting a solid meaningful message.

Posted by: DanW | April 20, 2006 5:20 PM | Report abuse

That post by Isaac sounds like Kerry secretively wrote it.

Posted by: Bill | April 20, 2006 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Well, if you think John Kerry is not perceived as a centrist and thus couldn't win, let me ask you this: If there was a recall and it was Bush v. Kerry again tomorrow, do you think Bush would still win? I believe he wouldn't, which makes me think Kerry is centrist enough to stand up against a conservative Rep., though I still think the Dems are better off with someone else. It's not clear to me the south is that important. Kerry didnt carry any of the south, but still would have won if he got Ohio. Certainly carrying some of the south would help, but I thought that was what John Edwards was for. And he apparently did no good at all.

Posted by: ajsa | April 20, 2006 5:00 PM | Report abuse

I was always a strong supporter in John Kerry, and I honestly don't understand why so many Democrats, are such fair-weather fans. I was in Iowa, and Kerry didn't just win the nomination because of his military record - he won, because he was smart, a good campaigner, and inspiring. John Kerry is an American hero, and he has consistently taken tough stances and spoken out for what's right. I will concede that he screwed up by not renouncing his Iraq vote much earlier. Still, Bush and the Republicans put him in an impossible situation. If he opposed the war, he would have been labled another weak liberal, who couldn't defend the country. If he supported the war, the liberals wouldn't have turned out. So he tried to split the difference... truthfully though, even back in 2003, it was pretty clear that there was no good solution in Iraq. There is still no good solution.

Posted by: Isaac | April 20, 2006 4:57 PM | Report abuse

I'm lookin' on the ground at two horses beaten to death. One's named Gore, the other Kerry. Why dy'all keep beaten away when they're already dead?

Posted by: Now there's two of them | April 20, 2006 4:56 PM | Report abuse

While Kerry's campaign was not perfect, I think he should be commended for the job that he did considering the circumstances. In my opinion, many Democrats are taking out their frustrations over the overwhelming popularity of Bush during his first term after the 2000 election.

Just 3 years before his re-election, Bush's approval rating was well over 80%. Think about that. Over 80%. That's a 4-1 majority. Convincing large numbers of people to change their minds about politics and go against an incumbent is no easy task. It takes a LONG time, as evidenced by the fact that liberal/conservative trends last for decades. Iraq was certainly a problematic war, but had not been going on long enough for that to sink in to the public conscience and have a real political effect. Remember with Vietnam that it took years, and an order of magnitude more casualties, for the public to turn against that problematic war.

Kerry came darn close to overturning those incredible odds and I think that he came as close as he did makes him a good candidate. Saying that he blew a good chance in 2004 is ignoring the unpleasant fact that things were just plain bleak for the Democrats during Bush's first term. I doubt ANY Democrat could have won in 2004 and I think Kerry deserves more credit than he gets for taking on long odds, trouncing Bush in the first debate (an impressive feat that never gets mentioned in the same paragraph as the swift boat thing), and turning a long shot into a close fight.

Posted by: Karl | April 20, 2006 4:55 PM | Report abuse

If the Dems know what's good for them, they'll nominate someone who is not only a centrist, but who will actually be PERCEIVED as one. No matter how much the wonks might describe Gore, Kerry, or H. Clinton as "centrist," the average American will never perceive them as such. Perception is everything in politics today, and if the Democrats want to win, they need to run someone that the American people can actually warm up to. I think Bill Richardson has potential-- while he can be a bit dry on talk shows, he is electric when it comes to retail politics (which, by the way, goes a long way in Iowa and New Hampshire!) If he can translate that enthusiasm to the TV interview circuit, he's got it made. Add to that the fact that he has the perfect resume . . . and voila. He's the Dems' best chance. With Mark Warner as veep (he's okay, but he's too uncharismatic for the top of the ticket,) the pairing of southwest with south will yield great results.

Posted by: The Caped Composer | April 20, 2006 4:52 PM | Report abuse

ajsa, Being from Mass, I have a lot of trepidation about the new health care bill. Setting aside the possible constitutional challenge, its simply too expensive to implement. Not to mention that with Mass passing the law, they have declared that they believe health care to be a state issue that needs to be addressed by the individual states.

Posted by: Dan W | April 20, 2006 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Im not sure universal health care remains entirely in the liberal agenda any more. Big business, viewing UHC as a way out of benefit overload, are beginning to support it. It seems to me that once big business wants it, the Republicans will have to also follow suit. Mitt Romney, after all, is a Rep. (albeit from a very blue state).

Posted by: ajsa | April 20, 2006 4:45 PM | Report abuse

As a partisan Republican, I'd like nothing better than to campaign against the known quantity of John Kerry in 2008, a man of such rigid and cumbersome personality that he always came up a day late and a dollar short, looking like Ol' Dan Tucker who came to late to get his supper!

Posted by: Tommy | April 20, 2006 4:45 PM | Report abuse

While Health Care is a HUGE issue and some solution is needed in the country, any candidate that tries to present a universal health care solution is going to be viewed as liberal and far left.

Posted by: Dan W | April 20, 2006 4:39 PM | Report abuse

I should point out that the Feingolds/Deans/Naders etc are vital, even though they will never win. They help to define the extent of the left, thus shifting the center to a more representative place. This helps to make clear that Kerry and Clinton are centrists. If Feingold wasn't in the running, Clinton etc could be painted as left-wing extremists, which they are clearly not.

Posted by: ajsa | April 20, 2006 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Condi Rice would "have huge support from the military camps"?
Huh? Upon what do you base this?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 20, 2006 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Dan W: I think most of the Dem field is fairly centrist. Supporting abortion rights, timetables in Iraq, and universal healthcare hardly makes Clinton, Gore, etc. a left-wing nut. Especially now that the healthcare crisis is getting out of hand and the Iraq situation is falling apart. I would say the only far lefter prominently in the running right now is Feingold. He (unfortunately, in my opinion) has no chance. I find it hard to believe that many independents would consider Kerry or Clinton too liberal these days.

Posted by: ajsa | April 20, 2006 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Jay: The state of Ohio is hardly in the south.

Posted by: ajsa | April 20, 2006 4:27 PM | Report abuse

AJSA, Good Point. Even I would vote for a true centrist Dem than a right Rep. And a modererate can not get nominated by the Reps.

But do you really think the Dems will nominate a centrist?

Posted by: Dan W | April 20, 2006 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Sage Thrasher, I don't think the Military establishment is going to hold Bush's policies against the next Rep Candidate.

McCain and Condi would both have huge support from the military camps and of the other candidates, none really have a history against the military.

Posted by: DanW | April 20, 2006 4:22 PM | Report abuse

No one becomes President without carrying part of the South, and it will be nearly impossible today to find a Northeast Liberal Intelligentsian who can carry even part of the South. With respect to Senator Kerry, I do not believe he can ever be President (nor can Dr. Howard Dean).

For the record, I lay the past two Presidential elections SQUARELY at the thoughtless feet of the Democratic Party.

Posted by: Jay Hurst | April 20, 2006 4:20 PM | Report abuse

I didn't want Kerry in the primaries, he wasn't radical enough for me. His grace under the pressure of the campaign and after losing the campaign changed my mind about the man.
When you realize how close Kerry came to winning as a Northeastern senator against an incumbent during war-time (see how many Presidents have lost a re-election during a war...anyone?) you have to realize the task was almost impossible.
Saying he lost to an unpopular President is a bit disingenuous, as Bush's unpopularity didn't explode until after the election.
Yes, he is nuanced, but, in my mind, the only places where a spade is a spade are a card deck and a garden. Life and running a country is so much more complex than that. When he was talking, the wonk that I am, I realized how deep his thinking went. Do we really want someone in the Presidency who sees only black and white, reducing everything into a 10 second sound bite? This is reality, not Madison Avenue.

Posted by: capemh | April 20, 2006 4:19 PM | Report abuse

I was a strong supporter of John Kerry when he ran for President. I believed he was a war hero with untarnished credentials as both a progressive and a soldier. Watching aghast as the Republican smear machine tarred him mercilessly as a flip-flopper during his vacation from campaigning in March, I figured he and his campaign staff had learned their lesson and wouldn't allow the Republicans to attack him without immediate simultaneous defense and counterattack. Boy was I wrong!!
When the same smear apparatus attacked again after the Democratic convention in July, there was no response, no counterattack, no nothing for weeks. While a timely response to the Republican lies of those times might not have snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, the lack of response certainly sealed his (and our) fate.
Kerry had his chance. Between him, his two vacations from campaigning and his tepid responsiveness to underhanded attacks, there can be little expectation of success this time around. It's time for someone else.

Posted by: Dave | April 20, 2006 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Dan W: I think you're wrong on that one. While Gore, Clinton, etc. have no chance courting the reddest states, Bush's sour presidency will keep swing states from voting for a solid Republican. I think 08 will be all about centrist candidates. The Dems will certainly nominate a centrist candidate (sorry Russ Feingold, you have my vote), but on the Republican side, it's not as likely. I think if it is a moderate Dem vs. a conservative Rep (e.g. Frist, Allen), the Dems win this time.

Posted by: ajsa | April 20, 2006 4:17 PM | Report abuse


An excellent point! Governors lead, senator legislate. Most people want a leader, not a lawyer (most senators and reps seem to be lawyers) with 1000 nuanced positions on some minor matter.

Posted by: Fred | April 20, 2006 4:16 PM | Report abuse

I don't think it's a case of voters rejecting second-try candidates as much as it's a case of candidates losing the second time for the same reason they lost the first time. Consider the campaigns of Gephardt (1988, 2004) and Kerry (2004, 2008?):

Gephardt was always a strong union supporter, and thought they would deliver the Democratic nomination to him. When he lost their support in 1988, his campaign folded. Same thing in 2004 (he also quit too early.) In 2004, he was by far the most experienced Democratic candidate, with a proven track record of success through bi-partisan horse-trading. He probably would have been a good president (as would have Bob Dole.) But he didn't expand his base to match the shifts in power in the country.

Kerry ran almost exclusively on his war record and supposed status as the most qualified war-time leader due to his war-time military service. Unfortunately, the Democratics didn't recall that the majority of active and retired military folks loath Kerry because of (in their view) his gratuitous repetition of largely unfounded heresay in front of Congress after he got back from his FOUR MONTHS in Vietnam.

So, today we have obvious discontentment with the Bush administration among the military, both active and retired, and a growing feeling that Bush & Co. have sold them out, i.e., tax cuts before higher troop levels. But running Kerry on the ticket in 2008 would guarantee once more veterans and active duty military would refuse to vote for the Democratic ticket.

In retrospect, given the closeness of the 2004 race, Kerry, the veteran and war hero, may have been the only major Democratic candidate who would have lost to Bush, because he guaranteed Republicans would dominate the military vote. The same thing will happen if he runs in 2008: Dems will fail to bring veterans and active military into their ranks, regardless of how digusted those folks are with the Bush administration's conduct of the war.

A real loser is the one who never changes his strategy.

Posted by: Sage Thrasher | April 20, 2006 4:13 PM | Report abuse

I see that today there are not too many comments on the accuracy of this analysis as most of the pro-Kerry piece generated so many "you're wrong" comments. Yes, he can raise money and he has a good list. But who on that list would be willing to go out on a limb again with him? He has done nothing in the Senate and other than saying whatever W is, I am not, he has not presented the vision thing, or any kind kind of plan. The presidency is not a divine right kind of thing. The reason Bush won in 2000, in spite of a wildly successful economy during the Clinton years, was he presented a plan in addition to relief from the excesses of the Clinton years. In order for the Dems to win, they have to have a plan. Hilary doesn't have one, she is just as muddled as Kerry.

fearless prediction, neither will be on the ballot in 2008.

Posted by: Steve | April 20, 2006 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Michael: HRC would be a disaster for the Dem party. They should drop all notion of Kerry, Gore, and HRC. Personally I would LOVE for you to nominate any of them. But then, I lean Rep.

Posted by: Dan W | April 20, 2006 4:08 PM | Report abuse

I saw Kerry on Meet the Press recently. While I still harbor some resentment toward him over his inexplicable loss in 2004 (I know I'm alone here), I have to say he still makes a lot of sense and comes across as very reasonable to the thinking man. However, I would say his positions and oratorical abilities are not unique, and an equivalent candidate in 08 without his loser baggage is wiser and more likely. I don't think name recognition alone will put him through.

Posted by: ajsa | April 20, 2006 4:06 PM | Report abuse

If Kerry or Hillary get the Democatic nomination they will lose to whoever the Republicans put forward. The Democrats need a moderate Southern Governor. Senators almost always have made votes on contentious national issues that can be manipulated by their opponent.

Posted by: Karen | April 20, 2006 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Fred, Absolutely. I would love to see the Dems come out with a clear concise platform. I realize they are waiting til closer to elections so they don't have to defend it from repub attacks. But my question: Why should they need to defend their message from attacks?

Get the message out. Be bold. Be aggressive. Say "This is what we stand for. This is who we are. This is what it means to be a Democrat."

If the message is honest and truly represents the goals of the party, the message should go out now. Today.

Let the repubs attack it all they (we) want. The defense is putting forth votes and statements that reflect the views of the party.

People like me (people leaning to the middle, rep or dem) may hate what that message says but we will respect the fact that it is there.

Failing to put forth a message is cowardly and says you don't believe in the message. And yes, I will be fair and say this statement applies to the Reps as well.

Note to regulars. I have added the W as there seems to be another Dan posting on these boards.

Note to the other Dan: Please add a letter after your name to distinguish us. Thanks.

Posted by: Dan W | April 20, 2006 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Kerry is just not a good candidate, he ran a terrible campaign and continues to feed into the Republicans criticism that he is a flip-flopper, he is the last person that should be telling Tim Russert that he is once again changing his postion on Iraq. Does he ever learn?

Posted by: Ellen | April 20, 2006 3:57 PM | Report abuse

If Kerry were to have a snowball's chance in hell he'd need to be able to communicate to the masses in the red states.

That means black and white, Aggressive, stick-your-neck-out-certain statements on policy and direction.

Kerry doesn't "call a spade, a spade"

Posted by: Long Beach, CA | April 20, 2006 3:54 PM | Report abuse

I hope Kerry would be wise and self effacing enough to sit this race out--and help a real leader like Hillary win the presidency!

Posted by: Michael | April 20, 2006 3:54 PM | Report abuse

To extend my comment a bit more, what I remember from the last presidential run was he was not Bush. The Dems need to find someone with an actual message rather than "I am the anti guy!" Kerry is not that man.

Posted by: Fred | April 20, 2006 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Sure, Kerry should run again. Nothing better than offering the public a campaign saying,in effect, "I am not the other guy!"

Posted by: fred | April 20, 2006 3:38 PM | Report abuse

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