Inside the Capitol

Monday, November 20, 2006

11-24 Hurry, Bill

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- Hurry up, Bill, they're not waiting for you. Within a week of the 2006 mid-term elections, candidates already were lining up for president in 2008.
Here we thought Gov. Bill Richardson was getting overanxious about running for president. But three Republicans already have formed presidential exploratory committees.
First Sen. John McCain, of Arizona, announced, then former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani. Both are heavyweight contenders for the presidency but both face the problem of getting through the GOP primaries because of their moderate social views. Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney now has joined the race. He may be the conservatives' choice, if they can get past his Mormon religion.
McCain was moderate enough six years ago that Democrats were wooing him to come join them and run for vice president on the ticket with Al Gore. McCain declined, saying he would always be a Republican.
Voters in South Carolina did not treat him kindly in the GOP primary that year. Since then, McCain has been running hard to the right, but he's still straight-spoken enough to pick up many Democrats and most independents in a general election.
Guiliani is another Democrat favorite. He won overwhelmingly for mayor in heavily Democrat New York City. He was wildly popular for cleaning up the city and making it livable. The 9-11 disaster made him "America's mayor" for his masterful handling of that crisis.
But Guiliani will have even more trouble getting past conservative Republicans than McCain will. He's another one who might be better off running as a Democrat.
Gen. Colin Powell also was courted by Democrats in 2000 also, just as Gen. Dwight Eisenhower was courted 50 years earlier to head their presidential ticket.
It's too bad independent candidacies don't work. Or maybe they do, now. Sen. Joe Lieberman surprised everyone by winning big as an independent after losing the Democrat primary in Connecticut. How about Joe Lieberman for president?
It has been interesting to hear Rudy Guiliani referred to as a dictator by some commentators. He is predicted to have trouble with both parties in Congress because of his intimidating tactics. Where have we heard that before? John Dendahl, are you listening?
Gov. Richardson has said he will wait until the first of the year to make a decision. That likely means a decision to form an exploratory committee. There is a protocol for how this is done and one can't appear to anxious or confident.
Besides, the last time I talked to the first lady, she said the governor hadn't talked it over with her yet. A year ago she was saying, "That's another life, another wife."
So, if the governor decides to make the plunge, who will he be running against over on his side of the primary ledger? The two names getting all the publicity these days are Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama. Virtually no one else is mentioned in current talk.
Five years ago, when Richardson was thinking about running for governor, he was frequently referred to as the 800-pound gorilla. If he got in, everyone else might as well get out.
Hillary Clinton is becoming the 800-pound gorilla in the race for the Democratic nomination.
Like Richardson five years ago, she is demonstrating an overwhelming ability to raise money. And she has a large core following. Republicans don't feel a bit badly about her dominance because they feel they can beat her.
One reason people enjoyed referring to Richardson as an 800-pound gorilla was because of his weight. He's now trying to do something about that, a good indication he's seriously looking at a presidential run.
He has a personal dietician and trainer and appears to have had a little dermatology work also.
Even though Richardson is the best qualified candidate on paper, he may not be able to attract the national attention necessary to vault into the heavyweight ranks of primary candidates. I'm guessing he may end up throwing his support and money to the frontrunner and hope for a vice-presidential or secretary of state appointment.
FRI, 11-24-06

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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