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Dems (And a Few GOPers) Descend on Iowa

Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner (D) is bolstering his presence in Iowa on the eve of his second visit to the state this year.

Beginning in August, Warner's Forward Together political action committee will cover the salary of Courtney Dozier, who will work for the Iowa Democratic Party. Dozier previously worked as deputy director of the Virginia Democrats' Assembly caucus and also did work for America Coming Together -- the largest of the progressive 527s -- in the 2004 cycle.

The news of Dozier's hiring came just days before Warner's latest trip to the Hawkeye State. Arriving today, Warner will make stops in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Dubuque and Waterloo. He'll raise money for Secretary of State Chet Culver, the party's gubernatorial nominee, 1st District nominee Bruce Braley and state Sen. Roger Stewart. He'll also hold a roundtable with teachers and meet with the Hawkeye Labor Council.

Even in Iowa, where voters expect to meet candidates for president face-to-face, the last week has been something of an overload. Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) spent Thursday, Friday and Saturday in the state, raising money for three congressional candidates and seven state legislative candidates.

Last Friday, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards (D) was in the state, and on Saturday Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) swooped in. Edwards has been in the state 10 times since the 2004 election, while Bayh has made five trips to Iowa in the last 12 months; Huckabee has made eight stops in the state since November 2004.

Need more? Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) will be in the state on Friday for a fundraiser to benefit 1st District candidate Mike Whalen, and Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) will raise money for Democrats in the Iowa legislature on Saturday and make stops in Maquoketa, Clinton and Davenport on Sunday.

Bayh and Edwards also have staffers on the ground in the state. Chris Hayler, the Midwest political director for Bayh's All America PAC, is based in Iowa and will be full-time in the state starting next month. Several former Edwards operatives are working for Culver's gubernatorial campaign (though they are not on the staff of the former senator's One America Committee).

Edwards the Insurmountable?

There is one major difference between the Iowa campaign of Edwards and those of Warner and Bayh -- Iowans already feel like they know the man who placed second in their state's 2004 caucuses and went on to be John Kerry's running mate. In a poll of likely Democratic caucus goers conducted by the Des Moines Register, Edwards led the field with 30 percent support from the survey respondents; Warner took three percent, and Bayh had two percent.

Asked whether they felt favorably or unfavorably toward each of the candidates, more than two-thirds of the surveyed caucus goers said they were "unsure" about Warner and Bayh. Just six percent said the same of Edwards while a whopping 83 percent felt "very" (42 percent) or "mostly" (41 percent) favorable toward him.

Supporters of Warner and Bayh insist they are not concerned about their low standing in the polls since few voters know either man at the moment -- a problem that, they argue, can be solved with more trips to the state coupled with television and radio ads.

To hear Edwards's allies tell it, however, climbing from low single digits to competitiveness will be much more difficult in 2008 than it was in 2004. Why? Because so many known candidates look likely to run, leaving fewer undecided voters for Bayh or Warner to target. In the Des Moines Register poll, 78 percent of voters were split between four candidates -- Edwards (30), Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (26), Sen. John Kerry (12) and Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack (10).

For Warner or Bayh to make substantial gains in Iowa, they will need to convince voters who are already predisposed to support one of the four aforementioned candidates to switch allegiances. Can it be done? Of course. But given the depth of the field, there may only be room for one of these two men to make a legitimate run at a top three showing in the caucuses.

By Chris Cillizza  |  July 11, 2006; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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Next: Ney's Got Numbers Too


By the way, Edwards is a liberal not as liberal as Russ Feingold as such he should pick a more moderate Vice President. A Edwards/Bayh ticket would bring a lot of energy and appeals across party lines. They compliment each other. Way more than the night and day of the Kerry and Edwards ticket.

Posted by: PopulistDemocrat | July 14, 2006 1:51 AM | Report abuse

Not that it matters anymore but Edwards according to FOX NEWS of all stations had Edwards winning reelection in North Carolina if he chose to run with 53% of the vote. His approval rating was 63% in NC. What the 2004 election showed that the selection of a Vice President does not matter unless it is a close close swing state. The selection of a VP candidate does not guarentee a added boost in a region nor does it make up for the short commings of the nominee. Edwards if the the nominee in 2008 still should pick a nominee based on complimenting him like Evan Bayh not someone from total opposite appeal like Hillary Clinton. If Kerry would have picked Wes Clark someone who would have complimented him than the ticket would have done a lot better.

Posted by: PopulistDemocrat | July 14, 2006 1:47 AM | Report abuse

Who the heaven could say that Kerry won by 6 million votes in 2004? What a joke. What an ignorant comment.

Man, there needs to be a fact checker in here. The room is going downhill with totally wrong information like that about Kerry in 2004. Yikes.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 13, 2006 12:15 AM | Report abuse

Bush did not win by 3 million votes. Kerry won by at least 6 million and true americans know it. Cheating is not winning. Read Robert Kennedy's article about the stolen election at www.rolling The corporate owned right wing main stream media will not cover it.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 12, 2006 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Stop beating up on Fox News, they just reported the fact that Edwards was polling under 50%. Also, it is a state which will not allow a candidate to run for two seats at the same time, so Edwards was force to decide, what am I....Senator or VP?

North Carolina was leaning Republican, and if Kerry plus Edwards could not even win North Carolina, (that is reality), what the hell did Edwards bring to the Democrats? Look at election night. Can you name any Southern state which voted for Kerry/Edwards?

Just because California is in the Southern coastline, does not make it a Southerns state either.

Kerry lost by 3 million votes. The electoral college might have gone to Kerry with a OHIO win, but then again, the Democrats screamed for years that the candidate with the most votes should be president. So Bush won the most votes in 2004, now if Kerry won the electoral votes, would you guys still be screaming that the person with the most votes should be president? Geez, the Democrats flip flop and flop flip all the time. What standard of voting do you support? Define it and then fight to win it, but at least stop flipping and flopping.

Posted by: Jack from Hackensack | July 12, 2006 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget that Kerry-Edwards were handicapped in Florida in 2004 by hurricane damage that effectively kept them out of the state until relatively late in the campaign cycle. Bush, by contrast, was able to make numerous compassionate visits during the crisis. Bush was considerably more adept at hurricane crisis management and more attentive to victims during a Presidential Election year than he was in dealing with Katrina in 2005.

Posted by: Sherry | July 12, 2006 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Hmm... I suppose I must have resigned the final figure to 11% when I was watching the election night results without sticking around for the final tally.

My mistake. Point of wider margin withstanding though.

Posted by: peter | July 12, 2006 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Just a correction. Apparently, Kerry-Edwards lost by 5.2% in 2004, which points out the importance of doing one's own "homework" on these threads. This puts Florida very much in play for the Democrats in 2008.

Posted by: Jeff-for-progress | July 12, 2006 9:08 AM | Report abuse

You need to have people listen to you before you persuade them to vote for you.

I take the Iowa face-to-face politics as a very, very important measure of the viability of a candidate.

Edwards (along with Obama) have shown that they are the most effective communicators of retail politics.

It seems that McCain has taken on an Eisenhower persona somewhat incongruous with his shifting of positions in becoming a staunch Bush loyalist.

The question remains is whether a head-on contrast is more effective to quiet persuasion. An earlier poster made the observation that the election in 2000 became closer in Florida partly due to Lieberman being on the ticket and partly due to Gore becoming a more persuasive and hard-hitting economic populist. The poster also pointed out that the Kerry-Edwards ticket lost by 11% in 2004 in Florida.

At this point, Gore still remains my favorite, but he needs to trend his likeability up (he is down there with Hillary at this point).

In recent appearances I've seen some morphing between McCain's grandfatherly Ike image and Gore's elder statesman's image. The closer that Gore can pull close to McCain on this likeability issue, the more the public will take a closer look at their differences in issues. This redounds to Gore's benefit both in the election and his future relations with Congress in passing his program.

Getting back to my earlier point. Edwards does have the potential to be listened to (and not be tuned out by some voters) and his 2-1 favorability ratings among the American public and his extremely high likeability ratings in Iowa (among those voters who know him best at least among Democratic voters) is pretty convincing evidence of his potential. His moderate-liberal stance on issues probably tracks the American public more closely than any other potential Democratic candidate-- perhaps two-thirds of Americans in their heart of hearts prefer Edward's positions to McCains. I think that Edwards compares well with McCain on smartness. There is always the underlying gravitas issues, but I think that Edwards has taken some positive steps to bolster his standing (particularly some recent smart speeches that he has written himself).

The bias that some of us have for Gore is that it is the most qualified and likely to be the most competent in office (if he is not sandbagged by Republicans and conservative Democrats). Edwards, perhaps, has the personal charm to get more of his program through similar opposition. Although, the smarmy Republican-type attacks on Edwards as evidenced by some comments mentioned above make me think that perhaps I am being too optimistic on this account.

I think that a strength of Edwards is that these tactics of demonization can only go so far with a straight face. At some point the opposition has to admit that much as they don't like Edward's policies he really is a nice guy with a great family. This is also true of Gore, but the opposition, at least at this point is probably less willing to concede this entirely valid point. They both would make fine candidates, that Democrats could be proud of.

Posted by: Jeff-for-progress | July 12, 2006 7:38 AM | Report abuse

I think being on the Senate Intelligence Comm. has given him the expereince Edwards needs to govern this country. He can stand his own on national security politics because he remember the smallest of details and presents common sense solutions that voters can understand. There is a reason Edwards is leading in polls amongst other Democrats who are known equally as he. There is a reason Edwards has one of the highest favorable ratings of any modern politician. I as a Ohio Democrat will work for Edwards with complete devotion because knowing my state, having worked politically in my state, and having the values of my state Edwards is the Democrat that can pull this state. Edwards work on attacking the causes and wrongs of poverty and his push for moral leadership with hope, vision, strength and courage is what this country needs. It is what America needed in 1960 when John F. Kennedy won and became President. The criticisms Edwards has recieved are the same criticisms Kennedy recieved from his party and the voting public when he ran and won the Presidency. Although I support Edwards, Mark Warner and Evan Bayh are the two other Democrats that would make great candidates and more importantly great Presidents. The work of Bayh in the Senate and Governor of Indiana would work well in the White House. Same with Mark Warner if he applied the same innovation, skill, dedication, and courage that he did as Governor of Virginia then he can really turn this country around. At the end of the day Edwards represents my Ohio beliefs more so than any other Democrat, but Bayh and Warner are my second choices and one Democrat I do not want to see nominated is: Hillary Clinton.

Posted by: PopulistDemocrat | July 12, 2006 12:31 AM | Report abuse

Learn more about Mike Huckabee at

Posted by: bluestaterepublican | July 11, 2006 11:41 PM | Report abuse

Checking back & backing up the post made by B20.

Also, I wanted to be a little clearer (too cute in my first post) that the Fox News link above is for a day of election poll that showed a mojority of North Carolina voters(54-47) would have re-elected Edwards to the Senate. The idea that he would have lost his Senate is highly debatable if not just wrong.

Posted by: cthoover | July 11, 2006 8:28 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't count Edwards out, for the following reasons:

(1) I don't know about the data cited above about his not being re-electable in NC, but a Pew poll I saw awhile back shows he is enormously popular ("likeable" I think was the phrasing, granted that isn't the same as "I want him as president") among moderates AND even Republicans. If that doesn't speak to red state viability as a Dem, I don't know what does.

(2) Don't underestimate this "likeability" factor. Face it, that was about the only thing George W. Bush had going for him in 2000 besides his family name. Failed businessman turned governor in a state where the Gov. basically had a job rubber stamping bills. Obviously not an intellectual giant and couldn't name any foreign heads-of-state (speaking of foreign policy). But he seemed like a "regular guy", and that swayed a lot of people. Sad to say, the majority of voters seem to lack either the time or interest to really get educated and form opinions on many issues, IMO.

(3) He's got the "fight for the underdog" thing down better than any other potential Dem candidate. You can argue about how real that is (he is, after all, a DLC member IIRC?), but I think he's got the mantle already, and I suspect it may be hard to strip him of it.

(4) He's done his confessional on Iraq - something that most rank-and-file Dems and a fair number of Republicans are still waiting for other politicians to do. That paints him as an honest broker - at least for a politician.

(5) A fair portion of the country IS tired of the polarized atmosphere, and he comes across as one of the more positive-oriented figures around. He might be what we need.

The foreign policy/wartime thing may be an attack point, but couple him with a Wes Clark or someone else with gravitas in that area and you've got yourself a pretty good ticket.

That said, I still think Warner could make both a strong candidate and president. Better in both departments than Hillary.

Posted by: B2O | July 11, 2006 6:30 PM | Report abuse

It seems to be the accepted opinion around here that Edwards was going to lose his senate seat but our good friends over at Fox News polling would seem to disagree (link below),2933,137521,00.html

We can argue that Edwards lacked confidence in his ability to keep that seat while running for President but the argument that he was going to lose his seat or that he is unpopular is his state doesn't seem supported by the evidence.

Posted by: cthoover | July 11, 2006 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Excuse me Lonestar JR.... HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Good guys, fighting for the little people. Right. Let's examine that, shall we? Let's say I get rear-ended by someone. Not a big rear-ending - a mere ding. Sure, I get a good jolt and maybe even minor whiplash. My car has a minor dent in the back, but my insurance agent and mechanic tell me the whole under-carriage is messed up. Does that entitle me to $90,000???? Sorry, no it doesn't. I also used to work for a company who defended insurance companies from people claiming they got mesothelioma while working for a company insured by our clients - 40 years ago! 92% of the time, these people couldn't remember the name of the company for whom they worked, and the case gets tossed. In the rare chance that one of these people has proof, they end up with an inordinate amount of money because an insurance company, like everyone else back in the day, didn't know that asbestos was bad for you! I know they deserve something, but $2 million? That's the standard going rate right now. That's just not right, if you ask me.

AND, they call them "ambulance CHASERS" for a reason. They frequent the hospitals and cancer clinics, soliciting clients - something that, let's just face it, is a little less than legal. So, I'm sorry, but if you need to build your legal profession around copping some corporate bigshot out of an insane amount of dough, you really must have low-self esteem and no shame whatsoever.

You claim to hate the corporate bigwhigs who have to fork over the money, but how about the John Edwardses of the world, who demand 20% of whatever you do get and charge you out the wazoo throughout the whole trial? Something's fishy when an attorney bills for 200 hours a week, while there are only 120 hours in a work week...

To sum it up, don't think for one second that these guys are the noble ones, fighting for the little guy. Sure, every once in a while, there is a very noble case they will take, but they don't take it because of the honor - they take it for the $$$$$$$$$$$$$.

Posted by: Jack in New Orleans | July 11, 2006 5:19 PM | Report abuse

You can't judge how Edwards would do in the South by 2004. Kerry was a singularly unappealing nominee, and no running mate would have made a difference (if indeed they ever do). Edwards' critics don't present the actual polling data (and I mean all of it) relevant to their unequivocal statements that Edwards wouldn't have been reelected in N.C. or that he lost the VP Debate. I do not believe that McCain (if nominated) will be very attractive to the South, and Edwards would benefit. Warner might do better, but his very thin experience will be exploited mercilessly after the Media's delight in him as a "new face" fades. "New faces" do better in situations where none of the candidates are nationally known or, if they are known, do not have a strong base of support (e.g., Lieberman in 2004 and Elizabeth Dole in 2000). For 2008, Edwards, Clinton, and Kerry already have name recognition. I don't think it will help Kerry much, but Clinton will have her devoted partisans come what may. Edwards--the naysayers in this comments section notwithstanding--has popular appeal. Whether it will be enough to withstand Hillary's base of support (and especially her husband's) is unclear. I think Edwards would do better in the General Election, however.

Posted by: Sherry | July 11, 2006 5:12 PM | Report abuse

I also agree with 50 state strategy but Dems won in 2000 and 2004 by winning all big states but Texas and all big cities. Total senate vote accross the country was 53% Dem and 45% Rep in2004 which shows that america still has a majority of voters that choose Dems. I think that a 50 state stratedgy is better for future since the western states of NM CO and NV (maybe AZ too) are trending Democrat.

Posted by: Larry | July 11, 2006 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Allegations notwithstanding, not every state has a Ken Blackwell. The point of the post was less about Ohio than about the fifty-state strategy.

Posted by: peter | July 11, 2006 4:30 PM | Report abuse

What swung the election in Ohio was Rep cheating Peter. Do not over analyze. It was the lieing and cheating of the Republican party. Read RFK's brilliantly researched article in Rolling Stone magazine The right wing corporate media will never speak of it.

Posted by: Larry | July 11, 2006 4:08 PM | Report abuse

I am disappointed when I read a comment that John Edwards is "without meaningful life experience" and even more chagrined by the characterization of him as an "Ambulance Chaser." John Edwards was one of the country's most successful Plaintiff's lawyers, meaning, folks, that he made his fortune by arguing on behalf of wronged individuals against powerful, cold-hearted corporate malefactors. He went head-to-head with opponents with virtually unlimited resources on behalf of clients whose only resources were the brilliance, tenacity and ability of John Edwards. Clearly, the sides were not fair, because he just kept winning, no matter how much money the bad guys threw down the drain by hiring less capable, less committed lawyers.

I'm a Russ Feingold guy in '08, but I beg all of you, unless you are heir to a major pharmaceutical or insurance fortune, don't badmouth Plaintiff's lawyers, because they're the good guys.

Posted by: LonestarJR | July 11, 2006 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Sorry Composer, I'm not familiar with Graham.

Condi isn't interested in running for elected office, and if she were to run, her first-term apologism for the war would subject her to far more criticism than she probably cares to deal with.

Dems worry about candidates that could swing "just one state" much more than Republicans do because they already cede 25-30 states to Republicans in presidential elections. Do you think anyone in Romney's camp expects him to carry Massachusetts? Or that anyone is skeptical of his candidacy because he won't be able to? We'll never have a candidate who carries 50 states, but that's what the strategy needs to be. Rove won the 2004 election for Bush not only by energizing the already reliable Republican base but by carving slivers of Democratic support away from traditionally blue constituencies. In Ohio, relentless campaigning to Cleveland-area Jews and blue-collar union workers made a difference that probably swung the election but wouldn't have shown up to Democratic strategists - as detailed by George Will.

If Democrats want to constitute a truly national party, they should go after fifty states - not one or two.

Posted by: peter | July 11, 2006 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Big on Warner, cool on Edwards.

Posted by: Iowan | July 11, 2006 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Liam- I originally thought about Bayh's vote in the same way that you did- liberals would go crazy at the thought of voting for a man who "restricts freedom of expression"- but strategists could write that off as a precautionary vote, one that was cast to prevent a character attack in a general election when, lets face it, liberals would support Bayh regardless of the vote. if he had voted against it, it fuels a right-wing ad-campaign.

Posted by: Rohan | July 11, 2006 2:39 PM | Report abuse

The only way that BS Flag Amendment would sway my vote is if the candidate actually thought it was a real problem facing the nation. The majority of people who voted for it said to themselves, "Well, I'd just rather not see it burned." And that was that. There is way too much hype about it - I kind of just wish everyone who thinks it's important and ought to reflect anyone's real opinion on anything that matters would just go away.

Posted by: Jack in New Orleans | July 11, 2006 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Mildly pro-choice, heavily involved in the Iraq war...I can already see the attack ads from both Republicans and Democrats against Secretary Rice. Not to mention her lack of governing experience. But she could be a worthwile VP.

Does everyone else think Bayh's vote for the Flag Burning Amendment will hurt him in primaries?

Posted by: Liam | July 11, 2006 1:37 PM | Report abuse

I live in Iowa... no one is making inroads yet. While some of the field of 2004 still have followers, the Dems I know are going to be issue voters. 1) Secure the borders. 2) Responsibly get us out of the Iraq war. 3) Fiscal responsibility. 4) Restore trust in government. That's it.

Posted by: Truth Hunter | July 11, 2006 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Cillizza did mention a few Republicans and I will again try to make a comment about the huge interest and even the support of Condi in Iowa.

The Quad City Times of Davenport, Iowa made headlines with a poll showing Condi was favored at 30%, with Rudy and McCain in low teens, and all others at less than 7 or 5 or 1%.

The group, Americans for Dr. Rice, made numerous trips to Republican events to plant the seeds in the minds of Iowa Republicans. Radio ads and tv ads made impressions about WHY NOT CONDI? And so the reality is that she is the 900 pound ELEPHANT in the GOP room to be considered in the 2008 race.

I have noticed the talk of foreign policy experience in the chat room, and so far, only Condi has it. She is helping with policy created, smoothing the rough edges off President Bush, and bringing international leaders to the diplomatic table. Tell me any Democrat who has done this? Maybe Biden from the Foreign policy thinks he has experience, but again, very few Senators ever get elected as president.

Posted by: Tina | July 11, 2006 12:38 PM | Report abuse

I don't think Edwards is the right candidate for the Dem nomination. The reason he didn't run for re-election in North Carolina in 2004 is because polls showed he would lose. Not something an aspiring presidential candidate would want to advertize.

Furthermore, the Democratic party needs a "red state" candidate that can can break the deadlock between the eventual Dem and Repub nominees for prez. Look at the past two elections, there were maybe two states that changed color? We need a Southerner (who can win his state) and/or a Midwesterner to be the nominee. Edwards is not the answer (can't even carry North Carolina), Clinton is not the answer (we already carry NY easily). Feingold is too polarizing. The Dem nominee must be able to get the cross-over vote. That leaves the Warners, Bayhs, Richardsons, and Obamas (?). Who else is worthy or could be a dark horse candidate? How about the Tennessee and North Carolina governors: Bredesen and Easley?

Posted by: Political Junkie | July 11, 2006 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Edwards had no standing in Florida. Being a "southerner" does not guarantee Florida, since Florida is not a typical southern state. Parts of it are definitely southern, but Palm Beach, Broward, and Dade Counties comprise what I lovingly call "the sixth borough." And the southwestern part of the state, on the gulf, has its fair share of transplants from the midwest. Bob Graham was popular with constiutents all over the state. Lieberman may have helped turn out the Jewish vote for Gore, but Graham could've mobilized the whole state, assuring a much more definitive victory.

Posted by: The Caped Composer | July 11, 2006 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Don't rule out the importance of Lieberman as Gore's veep candidate. There's more to consider than where the VP comes from. Lieberman, for example, energized Florda's substantial Jewish population in 2000. That combined with hard campaigning by Gore brought the election there extremely close when Bush had been expected to carry Florida easily; with Edwards, the southerner, on the ticket in 2004, Bush won Florida by something like 11%.

Posted by: peter | July 11, 2006 12:17 PM | Report abuse

The comments thusfar seem to miss what may, in fact, be the more important,evolving story in Iowa. It will not likely be an issue of how John Edwards does in comparison to Warner, et al, in the Iowa Caucuses, but, rather, how Edwards does with respect to Hillary and Tom Vilsack, both, presumeably, who will be contenders for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination at that time. Edwards does very well with Iowa Democrats against both and they--Hillary, the 800 pound gorilla whose name is not mentioned in comments, here, and Vilsack, Iowa's own Governor-Who-Would-Be President--are likely to be the most important benchmarks of the viability of Edwards' and other Democratic candidates' presidential campaigns in the Iowa Caucuses. The David who slays the the Hillary and Vilsack Goliaths in Iowa is likely to be sling-shotted with important momentum in what lies ahead, immediately after Iowa, in the Democratic nomination process.

Posted by: Craig | July 11, 2006 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Mary, I don't think Warner will have as much of a problem in terms of being out of office-- remember, he's only out of office because, in Virginia, governors are limited to one term. His popularity is obviously strong there, since he was able to be a kingmaker for his lieutenant governor, Tim Kaine. If he can repeat that feat this year with Jim Webb, Warner definitely deserves a place near the top of the viability list.

Edwards, on the other hand, chose not to run for re-election to the senate because he KNEW he had no chance of winning. He was unpopular in his home state-- such that there was no way he could swing it into the blue column at the presidential level (which, after all, is part of the point of choosing a veep. Gore made a mistake in picking someone from a state that would've gone for him anyway, and Kerry erred in selecting an unpopular one-termer from an unwaveringly red state. If Kerry had picked Warner, or Bill Richardson, or possibly Tom Vilsack, things could've turned out quite differently . . . or, for that matter, if Gore had picked Bob Graham!) But, to get back to the point, Edwards is not in a strong position to run for president.

Posted by: The Caped Composer | July 11, 2006 12:04 PM | Report abuse

not sure being out of public office has historically been a disadvantage to a candidate: Reagan and Carter both won the Presidency on this basis, and many others have run credible campaigns, including Bush (1980) and Jerry Brown (1992).

Being a sitting Senator has not been a disadvantage in seeking a nomination, but it certainly has in winning the subsequent election. I agree that Bayh has a great many things in his favour, but being a Senator is a drag on an otherwise attractive résumé as a two-term governor of a mid-western state that is normally very hostile to his party.

Quentin Langley
Editor of

Posted by: Quentin Langley | July 11, 2006 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Because Edwards and Warner no longer hold public office, they seem less viable than, say, Bayh who is a sitting US Senator and therefore in the fray of public debate. With national security always touted by Republicans as the top issue, Democrats need to put forward someone like Bayh who gets Senate Intelligence Comm. briefings on a regular basis.

Posted by: Mary from Boston | July 11, 2006 10:43 AM | Report abuse

I also would not categorize Edwards as having no meaningful life experience. Maybe no meaningful practical executive experience. "Life experience" is a rather overarching term.

I have a sense that there has been somewhat of a shift in Edwards. He has maintained message discipline and I think has successfully seperated himself from Kerry.

I still do not place him in the top 5 but the destruction of the party with his nomination is overstating it.

I would still like to see more fundamentals in organizing and fund raising from him. Lets just say, I am more open than I was at the beginning of the year.

Posted by: RMill | July 11, 2006 10:40 AM | Report abuse


[Edwards is an oversimplifying demogogue without meaningful life experience or foreign policy acumen.]

Not pushing an Edwards candidacy but so was Bush in 2000 (and still is).

Posted by: RMill | July 11, 2006 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Two points: foreign policy experience is only one side of the equation (admittedly more important than it was in 2000). When Bush was elected he had six years experience as a state governor. Of the candidates mentioned above on Bayh, Vilsack and Huckabee have more. Kerry, Clinton and Edwards have no executive experience at all. It is no coincidence that only two serving Senators and one Congressman have ever been elected to the Presidency. Speaking is simply not the same as doing.

Second, I find it interesting that fully 42% of Iowans in the poll opt for one of the two 2004 candidates. Iowa, let's recall, is one of just two states that voted Gore-Lieberman in 2000 but not Kerry-Edwards in 2004. It could be argued that Iowa has learned its lesson, giving the runner up from 2004 much the greater level of support this time, but I don't find either of the pair convincing.

A third, somewhat off topic point. It is not that long ago (as recently as the 80s) that Iowa was considered safely Democrat at Presidential level, and New Hampshire just as safely Republican. The criticism made of their role in selecting candidates was that they favoured unrepresentative candidates who would not appeal in swing states. With both states extremely close in the last two elections, and comprising two of the three states which switched between these elections, such criticism is no longer valid. Does anyone believe this will lead to both parties tending to pick more appealing candidates?

Quentin Langley
Editor of

Posted by: Quentin Langley | July 11, 2006 10:34 AM | Report abuse

You know, all this talk about candidates being divisive or not is really kind of dumb, when you think about it. If we, mere readers of a daily blog, disagree on one candidate (Dem or GOP), imagine how the real bloggers will disagree and fight over it. Like it or not, every candidate right now is divisive, as we have gotten so used to playing partisan politics that we all feel we need someone who fits our own platform perfectly - I hate to say it, but no two people's platforms are ever the exact same. Everyone is divisive - once we look past that, let's just try to find out who is the LEAST divisive and rally behind him/her for the sake of the individual parties. Let's try to get a candidate who actually has a viable mandate - one way or the other.

Posted by: Jack in New Orleans | July 11, 2006 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Bush was able to win in 2000 without foreign policy experience because nobody had invaded Iraq yet.

Posted by: peter | July 11, 2006 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Bush was able to win in 2000 without foreign policy experience because nobody has invaded Iraq yet

Posted by: peter | July 11, 2006 9:55 AM | Report abuse

I disagree that Edwards is a divisive candidate. His 2004 campaigning trademark was positivism, and I would argue that the polarization that characterized that election was not a result of the Democratic nominees but of the staunchly conservative policies of the Republican incumbents, which angered many who expected a more moderate administration to emerge from a chaotic, hard-fought election like 2000. Cheney may have come out of the veep debate looking a little better, but it's all about appearances; I thought they more or less argued actual issues to a stalemate. Edwards' problem was that he mentioned John Kerry too often, and Cheney came off cold and impatient, as though he had something more important to do. The latter was certainly unpleasant, but it made people trust his competence... or at least his seriousness.

That said, it's still legitimate to question Edwards' experience. In peacetime, he would seem an ideal candidate, but right now it appears that Americans are going to be looking for a nominee with solid foreign policy credentials. Warner, who would similarly make an outstanding peacetime nominee, has the same problem, and giving a few speeches overseas isn't going to change the matter overnight.

Posted by: peter | July 11, 2006 9:53 AM | Report abuse

It's all about the rhetoric- being inarticulate and lacking experience in foreign policy did not prevent Bush from winning. I suppose the Democrats could continue nominating candidates with extensive credentials that lack charisma (Gore, Kerry), but that strategy hasn't exactly proved successful. Perhaps a nominee that actually has the ability to rouse a crowd, let alone keep it awake, wouldn't be such a bad thing.

Posted by: Bjorn | July 11, 2006 9:53 AM | Report abuse

"Lacks experience" and "comes off as inarticulate and having no gravitas"? And "destroy the party"? Gimme a break.

And a certain resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was no champ in experience or articulation when he was "selected" by the Supreme Court in 2000.

Posted by: Hank Wilbury | July 11, 2006 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Maybe Edwards needs to consult with Steven Colbert on how to obtain such gravitas... I hope someone gets that.

I think we can do better than Edwards. This guy is an ambulance-chaser, which spells one thing: NOT TRUSTABLE. Coming from someone in Louisiana, where our politicians are about as crooked as they come (SEE Bill Jefferson's icy cold $90K), that's saying something. It's even more than that - there's just something there that I don't think people will like. As Democrats, we need a likable person - it's that whole democratic populism, you know? Appeal to the masses, I beg you. From what I've seen, the most likable, personable (potential) candidate is Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI). His track record proves that he isn't afraid to cast the unpopular vote (only one to vote against the Patriot Act) - in short, this guy has gravitas. But is he too far left? I like hearing CC tell us how he made a few brief appearances, but how are the Iowans taking to him?

Another (relatively) likable character is Mark Warner. At times, he seems the typical politician, looking past the little guy with the question in the front row for the rich suits in the back, but most of the time he seems genuine. He cracks a good joke every once in a while (my favorite is the one where he says, "I may be the only public speaker who asks you to turn ON your phone, because while all you hear is an annoying ringing sound, I hear CHA-CHING CHA-CHING"). Most importantly, he's got the track record to prove he can run a bipartisan government. Look what he did in Virginia, with a GOP legislature - major health care reform, top scores in education, the best-run state, etc. People may say they don't know his foreign policy stances or say he has no experience there, but honestly - how many governors do have foreign policy experience? And how many former governors became president? We'll all learn his stance in due time - it's too early to expect his rundown of all the issues. He, like every other candidate, will wait until he knows what the "key" issues in 2008 will be.

That said, Kerry and Edwards, to me, are like dead horses - let's stop beating them already. You can't read a story about a key vote in the Senate without hearing how "Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry, the party's nominee for President in 2004" voted. Enough already - time to move on. If these guys couldn't beat BUSH in 2004, what makes us think they'll stand a chance against someone with a decent approval rating, like McCain or Giuliani? I can only hope the voters in Iowa and New Hampshire agree...

Posted by: Jack in New Orleans | July 11, 2006 9:46 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sure if i necessarily agree. Edwards has spent the last four years increasing his credentials (particularly adding some foreign policy experience, which was lacking in 2004) and may have enough of that inspiring nice-guy luster to pull it off. After two extremely negative campaigns, the American people may be looking for a kennedyesque uniter who can make them believe in America again. Edwards' biggest asset is simply that people like him, which is not, unfortunately, something that can be said about many other politicians today. Also, Edwards was somewhat hampered in 2004 by the fact that he was up against a man who would never run for election again-- it was the nice guy against Bush's attack dog. The VP debate was also set up to play to Cheney's strenghts (or at least to neutralize Edwards'); they sat down at a table as if they were having a chat, making Cheney appear as grandfatherly as possible. Had Kerry/Edwards succeeded in their appeal for a REAL debate, Edwards would have looked far more presidential standing next to a hunched figure who brings to mind Danny DeVito's "Penguin" in Batman Returns.

Posted by: Jake | July 11, 2006 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Edwards is an oversimplifying demogogue without meaningful life experience or foreign policy acumen. It shocks me that
after 6 years of being the minority party at all levels of government (presidency, House, Senate, effectively Supreme Court, state legislatures, state governors), the Democratic party would still refuse to compromise with the center of the American polity and nominate a moderate pragmatist like Mark Warner, and instead stick with a divisive liberal like Edwards.

Posted by: dellis | July 11, 2006 9:35 AM | Report abuse

I agree, Liam. Edwards lacks experience, and comes off as inarticulate and having no gravitas (remember how Cheney wiped the floor with him in the vice-presidential debate in '04.)

Posted by: The Caped Composer | July 11, 2006 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Edwards as the nominee would destroy the party.

Posted by: Liam | July 11, 2006 9:10 AM | Report abuse

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