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Duncan Hunter for President?

In one of the strangest political decisions in recent memory, California Rep. Duncan Hunter (R) said Monday that he is putting together the pieces to run for president in 2008.

"This is going to be a long road, it's a challenging road, there's going to be some rough and tumble but I think it's the right thing to do for our country," said Hunter at his official kickoff in San Diego. Hunter is forming an exploratory committee, which will allow him to raise money for a potential presidential bid as well as travel the country and build a staff.

Hunter is currently the chairman of the powerful Armed Services Committee, a post he may well lose on Nov. 7 if Democrats are able to take control of Congress. Regardless, he will be term-limited out of the chairmanship in two years time. Hunter has held a San Diego area seat since 1980 and has never faced a serious re-election race

But, a run for president? If the idea seems far-fetched to you that's because it is.

On one level Hunter's interest is understandable. Faced with the prospect of going from a committee chairman to a rank and file member of Congress, Hunter could well be feathering his nest for a private sector gig following a failed presidential bid. Having "former presidential candidate" on a resume could well boost earning power. (Does the name John Kasich ring any bells?)

From an ideological perspective, Hunter sees a opening in the field for a candidate espousing the politics of former President Ronald Reagan -- fiscal conservatism with a belief in the need for a muscular military. (Hunter is also one of the leading voices in Congress against illegal immigration.) The fiscally conservative Club For Growth was less sanguine about Hunter's prospects.

Any number of Republican candidates eyeing the 2008 presidential race have cast themselves as the logical heir to Reagan -- an iconic figure in the conservative movement. The most obvious inheritor of that legacy is Virginia Sen. George Allen (R) who made no secret earlier this year that he would model any presidential campaign in 2008 on Reagan's governing philosophy. Allen's presidential ambitions have been sidetracked (some would say derailed) by the stronger-than-expected challenge from former Navy Secretary Jim Webb and Allen's own miscues on the campaign trail.

With Allen damaged for the presidential sweepstakes, expect people like Hunter, former Rep. Dick Armey (R-Tex.) and a few other lesser known national figures to weigh a potential bid in hopes of picking up the Reagan mantle. Hunter has already benefited from tying himself to Regan. In 1980. Reagan's strong national victory helped Hunter upset Rep. Lionel Van Deerlin (D) and the newly minted Republican member went on to become a major advocate for the new president in Congress -- particularly on defense issues.

Remember that no sitting House member has won the White House since James Garfield in 1880. For the non-math majors out there that's 126 years. Neither Hunter nor Armey seem likely to break that streak.

By Chris Cillizza  |  October 30, 2006; 4:46 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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Next: Congressional Countdown: One Week Out, Top Races in Flux


We need more Republicans like Hunter and a California Republican running for President might just win California and it's large number of electoral votes. If he were to pair up with Sam Brownback, that would be one terrific ticket!

Posted by: Anonymous | December 7, 2006 2:14 AM | Report abuse

I'm just writing to say that one of the posters in this thread is nothing more than an anti-Catholic bigot. His post reveals a shameful ignorance of Church positions and a willingness to spread slanderous untruths as fact.

Let me just take one example of this poster's obvious disdain for the truth: Calling Pope Benedict XVI "the Chief Pimp of the Vatican" is vile and offensive. It is NOT TRUE that he "continues to protect his subordinate pimps, Catholic priests, as they continue to sexually exploit children."

The current pope was only a cardinal when he first heard about the abuse scandal in the U.S. But his immediate response was to take a hands-on role. His Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith assumed responsibility for examining the various allegations and determining what should be done to protect children from that small percentage of guilty priests. He denounced in the harshest possible terms those guilty priests, remarking on the presence of "filth ... in the Church, even among those who, in the priesthood, should belong entirely" to God.

Sadly, many of this poster's other comments are similarly dishonest. Unfortunately, however, I do not have the time to respond fully to them all. But needless to say, I am deeply offended by his/her remarks.

I'm not sure whether this poster hails from the Judeo-Christian tradition, but I would remind him/her that bearing false witness IS wrong. That's something he/she should think about in the future.

Posted by: DG | November 22, 2006 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Hunter would make a great President. Finally someone to defend the border, and look out for the middle class that is eroding thanks to horrific trade deals like NAFTA and CAFTA. I will definitely support his candidacy!

Posted by: Will E. | November 2, 2006 4:23 PM | Report abuse

We have an election in 6 days to determine control of Congress. George Allen is in the race of his life for his political career. Anyone else believe it's a little early for Presidential politics?

Posted by: reason | November 1, 2006 7:39 AM | Report abuse

Some possible slogan's for Duncan Hunter's campaign ;-)

First a campaign theme song (to the melody of "Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets"):
"Whatever the Pentagon wants, the Pentagon gets--and whatever the Pentagon doesn't want, it gets too!"

Yes, in terms of government corruption we CAN do WORSE than this President and I will be a leader in that effort!

When I become President, Halliburton will have to stand in line behind other corrupt defense contractors. However, there's plenty of taxpayer money to go around for all of you!

What Halliburton did for Iraq, it can do for our border with Mexico!

Regarding issues that are non defense-related--I didn't know there were any so I can't speak to them!

Posted by: Jason from Whittier, CA | October 31, 2006 2:45 PM | Report abuse

IF the national polling companies are really listening to the people, they will include Tom Tancredo along with Duncan Hunter to check the waters. So far this year, Condi has tied or exceeded McCain in national polls. And Rudy is staying in the lead, at least according to the polls. Condi has the foreign policy experience the next president will need, so that puts her at the top for VP, not Hunter. As the people start to gather in 2007 to discuss the changes of strong candidates, their support will chance the FACE of 2008. The buzz for Condi as president has now been almost 2 years, and the nationwide support for her has also grown to a FEVERISH pitch. Lynn Cheney and Laura Bush each speak highly of her getting into the 2008 race. That is a fact which many within the GOP was to ignore because they favor their own guy, like McCain or Brownback or Frist. But the political leaders have already been witnessing the BUZZ for Condi, and the message has been reported worldwide.
There is one more year of volunteers standing up for Condi, and I also heard a fundraising letter is going out this month.}That will be interesting, and if the Washington Post has their ear to the ground, they will hear the march for Condi.
She is worth $10 million in name recogniton and another $10 million in high favorable´-with 60% job approval.}
If President Bush decides that she is his legacy, then you can bet Karl Rove will be putting out some buzz favorable to Condi for president as well.

Posted by: Tina | October 31, 2006 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Duncan Hunter can't be any worse than Richard Head Armey. I'm not too worried about either of them, though.

And if we're talking about wish lists for President, I'd take Kathleen Sebelius. She's not only a sterling governor, she's building the party by turning moderates tired of the KS GOP being run by wingnuts.

Posted by: Staley | October 31, 2006 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Steve - Enlighten us about Duncan Hunter. Seriously. It's impossible to know about 535 members of Congress in depth.

The only thing I know about Hunter is that he is Chairman of a very very powerful House Committee (Armed Services), which probably allows him to deliver a lot of goodies to San Diego.

Other than that, I don't see him doing much which would say, "Duncan, you're qualified to run for President !"

Be an advocate for him. Tell us. Don't just insult, use this blog for positive purposes.

Posted by: Nor'Easter | October 31, 2006 11:38 AM | Report abuse

DCA2CMH: Sorry, Coolidge was Governor of Massachusetts. As Governor, he used the Massachusetts National Guard to break the Boston Police Department strike. That may be where the mayoral impression comes from.

Star11: Granholm is a naturalized citizen - another Michigan Governor born outside the U. S. ran for the Presidential nomination. George Romney (Mitt's father) was born in Mexico of U. S. citizen parents. We never got to know just how the courts would rule on the Constitutional requirement in his situation.

Posted by: Nor'Easter | October 31, 2006 11:31 AM | Report abuse

You "experts" know absolutely nothing about Duncan Hunter. For 12 years he consistently got over 60% of the vote in a county that was perdominantly hispanic and nearly 70% Democrat. "Inside the Beltway" self-appointed pundits never know what is going on in the rest of the country. You are in for a big surprise! BlueDog, you are the idiot and the village is D.C.

Posted by: Steve | October 31, 2006 11:28 AM | Report abuse


I believe the answer to your question would be Calvin Coolidge (mayor of Boston). Real winner, he was.

Posted by: DCA2CMH | October 31, 2006 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Duncan Hunter? A known Capitol Hill "village idiot"? First, he won't get official GOP support. Second, he won't get MSM support. Third, he won't get middle of the road voter support. Last, he won't get donor support. He's not smart enough to run for the sake of enhancing his status outside of the Congress. He's egotistical enough to believe righteous indignation has any kind of significan following. His record is full of ammo for any opponent, and he comes across as a bully. This is a non-story about a non-event.

I hope he does run, him and Armey. Let the bloodletting begin.

Posted by: BlueDog | October 31, 2006 10:58 AM | Report abuse

so it's interesting to know the last sitting representative to be nominated or get the presidency...with regards to giuliani, anyone know who the last president or presidential nominee who had risen no higher than mayor before getting the nomination was?

Posted by: david | October 31, 2006 10:25 AM | Report abuse

I'm seeing enough dissatisfaction with the GOP '08 field thus far among the grassroots that there really is room for a guy like Duncan. The Republican party has been rocked by scandal after scandal and their best bet in 2008 would probably be an entirely fresh face. A little-known governor would probably be their best bet, but Duncan is not as crazy to be doing this as he would be in most Presidential elections.

Posted by: Jackson Landers | October 31, 2006 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Hunter, one of the biggest perpetrators of wack legislation in the Congress:

'On April 28, 2004, Hunter introduced legislation that he said could "turn parents into prosecuting attorneys fighting a wave of obscenity." [3] House Bill 4239, also called the "Parents Empowerment Act,"[4], would allow the parent or guardian of a minor to sue in federal court anyone who knowingly disseminates any media (such as a comic book) containing "material that is harmful to minors" if the material is distributed in a way that "a reasonable person can expect a substantial number of minors to be exposed to the material and the minor, as a result to exposure to the material, is likely to suffer personal or emotional injury or injury to mental or moral welfare."

I guess he's trying to drum up business for Evil Trial Lawyers... imagine how packed the federal courts could get with hordes of parents trying to sue publishers for comic books that damage their children's 'moral welfare' ...

Is the GOP in a contest to find the stupidest, most backward man on the planet to run for president?

Speaking of which, when are you going to talk about George Allen's sealed divorce records and arrest warrants? Inquiring minds want to know.

Hey, did you see the shredder parked out in front of Cheney's residence? There goes the notes from all those meetings with Ken Lay...

Posted by: drindl | October 31, 2006 9:10 AM | Report abuse

"The pope will be a traffic cop, as the churches increasingly go their own way."

And will that be "Peter of Rome?"

Posted by: JEP | October 31, 2006 9:04 AM | Report abuse

"The Mid-Atlantic Shredding Services truck"

sounds like an industrial-sized cover-up process...

Actually, they aren't shredding secrets, they are just rounding up and demolishing the last few copies of the Constitution left in DC, Cheney's minions don't want any copies left intact by election day.

Posted by: JEP | October 31, 2006 9:01 AM | Report abuse

"before my party is sweep onto the ass heap of history....".

No need for a correction MikeB, you had it right the first time.

Posted by: JEP | October 31, 2006 8:58 AM | Report abuse

These characters like Hunter and the rest of the beltway sparks start to believe that they actually have a "shot" at, not the presidency, but "National Exposure" for whatever career enhancement they can contrive. They couldn't make "president" in a one man (woman) election. As far as the Catholic Church posting, it fits well (unintentionally) with the postings about the coming "hispanic" voting power. The only revival of the Catholic Church will come about through the hispanic majority in the USA which should be occurring around 2036. At that time the Church will be "Americanized" and resemble a loose con-federation of churches much like the present Anglican Communion of churches throughout the world. The pope will be a traffic cop, as the churches increasingly go their own way. Viva la puebla!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: L.Sterling | October 31, 2006 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Spotted on 10/19, by an eagle-eyed Wonkette reader: The Mid-Atlantic Shredding Services truck making its way up to the Cheney compound at the Naval Observatory.

Fun fact: Mid-Atlantic Shredding Services has been contracted by the Secret Service for our Executive Branch's record-not-keeping needs.

The present contractor providing Pickup & Destruction of Sensitive Waste Material services is Mid Atlantic Shredding Services and the current rate is $0.095 cents per lbs.

Posted by: shreddin w/dick | October 31, 2006 8:55 AM | Report abuse

"George Allen's history is much bigger news than some unknown Congressman's interest in running for President."

Duncan Who?

So much for Hunter's name recognition...

And I agree completely with the journalistic integrity challenge, why is Allen suddenly immune to the standard poitical-season tabloid attacks averyone else seems to have to face?

One would think his arrest record and bar exam deceptions would have been exposed long ago, but obviously, a "macaca moment" can change everything, in this age of politics by blog.

Posted by: JEP | October 31, 2006 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Virginia Johnston:

You may know this but Granholm can't be President - she was born in Canada - it is too bad, though. . .

Posted by: star11 | October 31, 2006 8:31 AM | Report abuse

el tigre el dormir

DCA2CMH: The SW Hispantic vote is 'a sleeping tiger'. Watch out if they awake to the power of the ballot. American politics will never be the same and much improved.

Posted by: OhioRepublican | October 31, 2006 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Run Duncan Run!!!!

What are the right wing zealots going to do when confronted with social liberals like McCain and Guliani with Duncan in the race?

On the bright side, if he should win, perhaps he'll share all those great Haliburton recipes from Chez Guantanamo with us.

Posted by: Dick Tuck | October 31, 2006 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Hi Chris--I agree with you on Hunter--are you watching Mich Jennifer Granholm? do I ever like that woman--if she can get two terms in a state like Mich that has about 8% unempolyment--layoff abounds--there's rust on top of rust belt--running with a man that has such deep pockets--and the bad news goes on and on--but Granholm is ahead!! my God Chris hold the White House door open she can walk through! seriously Chris if she pulls this off --its the biggest turnaround race of 2006--you do a great job--enjoy seeing you on MSNBC

Posted by: Virginia Johnston | October 31, 2006 8:22 AM | Report abuse

I have yet to see any poll data indicating the affect of the immigration debate on likely Hispanic voters. I'm sure there are more R-jeopardy seats in the West/Southwest than we're currently anticipating, not to mention the impact in major metros that have seen small, but statistically significant demographic shifts since '04.


Posted by: DCA2CMH | October 31, 2006 7:56 AM | Report abuse


By William Saletan
"I once had a friend who listened to Rush Limbaugh three hours a day. He was a Republican operative. He sat in my apartment, wearing headphones, while I worked. He swore that if I put on the headphones for 10 minutes, I'd be hooked. So I put them on.

Inside the headphones was another world. Everyone in this world thought the same way, except for liberals, and they were only cartoon characters, to be defeated as though in a video game. In the real world, my friend was unemployed and had been staying with me, rent-free, for two months. But inside the headphones, he could laugh about welfare bums instead of pounding the pavement."

Goes a LONG way toward explaining our trolls.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | October 31, 2006 6:07 AM | Report abuse

New polls on 60 House races show the Democrats picking up 38-40 seats, including a 26-3 edge in the NY delegation. Try 243 Democrats to 192 Republicans on for size.

I'll go for a 6-8 seat gain in the Senate. Kyl is only ahead 47-41, and Ensign only has one more point over Jack Carter. In a major wave, Kyl loses. In an extreme wave, Ensign also loses. I can't rule that out at this point.

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | October 31, 2006 1:31 AM | Report abuse

Chris, any chance you'll be exploring the controversy over Allen's sealed divorce files and arrest warrants? Or Chuck Schumer's call to open his bar association files?

Posted by: Pontifex | October 31, 2006 12:23 AM | Report abuse

Hunter? Goodness, tell me that's the bottom of the barrel and there's no more where he comes from. Chair of Armed Services - the guy that brought us stylish combat vests, great gas mileage hummers, NRA-ish unregistered automatic weapons for 'haji in a man-dress' - he's proud of that? He's going to run on THAT record? That's his vision of a Reagan Republican? Please tell me this is all a bad dream and I'll wake up to a smaller government, with a balanced budget and a military that actually HAS bullets.

Posted by: OhioRepublican | October 30, 2006 11:58 PM | Report abuse

Is the lame Post (which still hasn't excerpted Jennifer Allen's NONFICTION book about real violence committed by an actual candidate, rather than fictional acts by fictional characters in a 30-year-old books) actually covering this story? LOL, yeah, I'll hold my breath on them offending the powerful senator... they're such a "truth to power" kind of newspaper.

Posted by: B2O | October 30, 2006 11:50 PM | Report abuse

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH is deepening its spiritual irrelevance. Its fake machismo and pea-cockish hypocrisy and political-meddling drove Latin Americans into other demonications. IN AFRICA THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IS PERCEIVED AS WICKED AND INSENSITIVE [The Catholic church opposes the use of condoms even for married couples in which one of them has HIV/AIDS]. IN EUROPE, THE CHURCH IS HELD IN BENEVOLENT CONTEMPT by Europeans who understood only too well the violence the Church visited on their continent and how much it discouraged the advance of science. Here in the United States, THE LEGACY OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IS ONE OF COVERING-UP THE CRIMES OF ITS PRIESTS WHO SEXUALLY ABUSED CHILDREN AND OF THREATENING TO EXCOMMUNICATE THE PARENTS OF THOSE ABUSED KIDS who dared to speak out. As the Chief Pimp of the Vatican, Pope BENEDICT XVI continues to protect his subordinate pimps, Catholic priests, as they continue to sexually exploit children. Just a shame that official Catholic Church continues undermine the effort of lay catholics and thus continues to be on the wrong side of history even in this modern age.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 10:41 PM | Report abuse

Star11: yep, I'm imagining an ad that places Allen behind bars wearing horizontal black and white stripes (perhaps with a noose in the background although perhaps that's too macabre). "Is George Allen a convicted felon? Can Virginians afford to elect a criminal to Congress? Haven't we had enough of Republican corruption? Vote for Jim Webb - all his crimes are imaginary." Oops, forget that last bit.

Still hoping that Allen lied on his bar app. Seeing a GOP Senatorial candidate carted off to jail in handcuffs would have a national impact similar to the Foley fiasco.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | October 30, 2006 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Duncan: "I'm running for President."


Posted by: F&B | October 30, 2006 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Go for it Duncan! The more nutcases in the mix the better!

Posted by: maria in CA | October 30, 2006 10:00 PM | Report abuse

I don't see what good John Kasich's abortive presidential run did for him. He's missed numerous chances to run for higher office since retiring from the House (e.g. Governor this year, mayor of Columbus in 2003). And he's becoming a forgotten commodity. But I rather enjoy having caught him unable to explain his support for DOMA when he spoke on my college campus in 1997.

Duncan Hunter: Girl, you thought he was a man, but he only was a MUFFIN!

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | October 30, 2006 9:24 PM | Report abuse

Garfield was not only the only sitting House member to be elected President, he was the last sitting House member to receive a major party nomination.

Posted by: JimD in FL | October 30, 2006 9:04 PM | Report abuse

One thing to remember is that Rep. Hunter is term-limited as Chairman of the Armed Services Committee under Republican Conference rules. Whether or not the House changes hands, he will not be the chairman in the next Congress.

Posted by: Jeff | October 30, 2006 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Small factual gripe with the last line in the column:

"Neither Hunter nor Armey seem likely to break that streak."

Well, of course Armey won't break it, should he run. The streak referred to "sitting" members of the House. Armey has been out of Congress since 2003.

Posted by: Jeff | October 30, 2006 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Hunter is in no danger; he hasn't been in a close race since 1980. His chairmanship is in jeopardy, though.

Posted by: JoeyJoeJoe | October 30, 2006 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Allen has very little incentive to make whatever these charges are public on his own - look at what happened to McGavick in Wash. state when he made public his drunken driving incident - his % went down and although it has come back up, he is far behind Cantwell. Personally, I gave McGavick a lot of credit for being forthright about it - I thought it would help him and it definitely took it away as ammunition for Cantwell. I guess Bush chose the right tactic when we weren't ever allowed to find out about his drug and alcohol problems.
So unless the Bar Association or I don't even know who makes Allen's record public, we aren't going to find out what it is all about. That doesn't mean that the Dems couldn't come out with an ad letting people know that Allen in hiding something. . .

Posted by: star11 | October 30, 2006 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Hunter might really be running for vice-president, thinking his knowledge of foreign affairs and defense policy might make him attractive to the nominee if that nominee is a governor.
I think Kasich was really running for veep, too. Too bad he didn't get it, the deficit would probably be far lower.

Posted by: Eric | October 30, 2006 6:39 PM | Report abuse

I am not a math major, and I appreciate the 126 year count down. And, even though I am not a math major, I would have to say your insightful observation on Dick Armey not breaking the sitting house member to President streak has ZERO chance of being wrong...since he is not a sitting house member! It seems so unlike you to play it safe, but on the other hand, no one can accuse you of being wrong on that one, eh? Having said that, I would also bet lunch you are right on Hunter not breaking it either though, technically, it is a MUCH closer call since he is actually in the house.

Posted by: Gary | October 30, 2006 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Kasich did not fair well as a House member. Kucinich did slightly better. Unless one is in visable role in House, this is much more difficult to pursue. I suspect Hunter is angling to be GOP Governor nominee in 2010. Raising money now makes sense. It sort of clears the field for a run in 2010.

Posted by: Stick A Fork In It | October 30, 2006 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Also, the interesting thing is that if his bar application doesn't mention these arrests, even for a lack of a fishing licence or unpaid parking tickets, he has committed a felony. So either the application will tell us exactly what the arrests were really for OR Allen gets arrested. Again.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | October 30, 2006 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Have to agree with anonymous: George Allen's history is much bigger news than some unknown Congressman's interest in running for President.

Fact: Allen did have two warrants issued for his arrest.
Fact: he's SAID that they are unpaid parking tickets and for fishing without a license.
Fact: if this is true then he'd have NO qualms about producing written records or allowing others to do so.
Fact: this hasn't happened.

Aren't you just the least bit curious? I mean I know it's not much to go on but even these tidbits are more interesting than Hunter for President.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | October 30, 2006 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Excuse me, all. That should have been "ash heap". My prediction, now: Dem's Senate Pickups 6, House 27.

Posted by: MikeB | October 30, 2006 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Is Hunter in a tight race? Maybe he's trying to boost his prestige within his district so that he can win reelection.

Posted by: Zathras | October 30, 2006 5:57 PM | Report abuse

What is in George Felix Allen's sealed arrest file?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Most interesting thing about Mr. Hunter's announcement is the timing - "Hey, we're going to loose the House (and possibly the Senate) and I am tossing my hat into the ring before my party is sweep onto the ass heap of history....". Not a lot of confidence in the troops, eh, Chris?

Posted by: MikeB | October 30, 2006 5:31 PM | Report abuse

"Allen's presidential ambitions have been sidetracked (some would say derailed)..."

Even derailed might be understatement now.

Posted by: Nor'Easter | October 30, 2006 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Not since James Garfield, you say? Umm, what about Matt Santos??

(West Wing fans? Anyone?)

Posted by: Corey | October 30, 2006 4:56 PM | Report abuse

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