WWW Opinion Times

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

With the Compromise Now In, the 2008 Race Shapes Up

An article in the Des Moines Register recently discussed the consequences for Senators who go soft on the filibuster who may be seeking the Presidential nomination in Iowa in 2008 (e.g. Hagel and McCain). It's happened, and our field of softies has emerged. Based on this analysis, Sen. John McCain-AZ should be greatly damaged in Iowa over his support and leadership of yesterday's compromise. It should make him vulnerable in South Carolina as well especially in light of his alliance with Sen. Lindsay Graham-SC one of the most surprising of softies.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee has also been damaged for 2008. His lackluster approach to the filibuster problem of allowing this to drag on for four and a half months since the start of the session overshadows his recent strong statements in support of removing the filibuster for judicial nominees. Now that John McCain is the de facto Majority Leader, Frist has shown a major weakness in his leadership; not a good thing for a Presidential candidate.

Interestingly, Sen. Chuck Hegel-NE did not follow McCain into filibuster compromise. But as the "Republican" compromise darling in the Senate, he's already damaged goods.

Look for Sen. George Allen-VA and Sen. Sam Brownback-KS to benefit greatly by their consistently strong public statements for up or down votes. Sen. Rick Santorum-PA, on the other hand, should have benefited from his solid stand as well, but his support of fellow Pennsylvania and Democratically liberal Republican Senator Arlen Specter over primary challenger Pat Toomey in 2004 has already taken him out of contention for the nomination.

There are others who are insulated from Senate politics who could benefit from angst in the Republican grassroots against the Senate and rise to the nomination. Chief among them is Gov. Jeb Bush-FL. If he were to rescind his promise not to run for President, he would be a serious candidate from outside the beltway. There are two longshots who might find the momentum because of all this: Gov. Bill Owens-CO and Gov. Mike Huckabee-AR. Both have considered a run, and both would connect with the conservative grassroots. And in Owens' case, he is articulate and shows well on TV.

A reader of this column sent me a comment on a post I wrote about the possibility that Cong. Mike Pence-IN will run for President. Though Pence is a big-time longshot, the sentiments of the reader are relevant: "Mike Pence in 2008! He is the only hope we have for a conservative nominee!" Though a guy like Mike Pence is likely not a possibility in 2008, there is likely someone who can satisfy the desires of the conservative grassroots in the Republican party. If not, January 20, 2009 will welcome President-elect Hillary Rodham Clinton to the podium.
FROM THE "'LEST WE FORGET" FILE: This might be a good time to revisit David Limbaugh's A Credo for Acquitting Senators.

UPDATE: Mike Huckabee's people have picked up on the comments in this post.