Rolling Stone recently published a feature article on Al Gore and the possibility of running for President again. The article mentions the rest of the democratic contenders (Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards), and briefly mentions the big Republican names (John McCain, Rudy Giuliani).
Author Tim Dickinson notes that Gore’s recent popularity comes not only from An Inconvenient Truth, Gore’s global warming lecture movie, but from his recently developed personality. Instead of overly cautious and stiff, Gore his coming off with a bit of personality. He’ll never be the charimatic speaker Bill Clinton was, but Gore is no longer censored by advisors and polls, and he’s coming off as someone who’s saying what he wants to say. In short, he doesn’t sound like a politician.
The question, of course, is whether Gore can continue to sound as free and unlike a politician as he does now if he chooses to engage in the mechanisms of the electoral process. Can Al Gore the candidate be the same Al Gore who’s making the rounds, talking about global warming all over the country?
We don’t really know. But with articles in major publications (including a bazillion in The New York Times) we ponder the various major candidates, and thought we’d give our early impressions of the Big Four who have already declared (Clinton, Edwards, McCain, and Giuliani) as well as three others. Of these, there are two Democrats who are likely to run (Barack Obama, and Al Gore) and one Republican who is running but has recieved considerably less press than his rivals (Mitt Romney).
(More after the break)
(For the record, big man hugs to Wikipedia for providing most of the information below. All the pictures are easily found in Google search.)
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Her credentials are well documented. She’s a successful author, former First Lady, and current U.S. Senator from the Empire State. She is universally known, which is both a bonus and a drawback. She, apparently, also has the “female vote”, which we assume refers to the Oprah Crowd, as both Mrs. Thursday and Mama Thursday are females and neither cares for Hillary too much at all. Also in her favor is the potential aid of her husband, who’s status as a campaigner has gone from being “Very, Very Good” to “Legendarily Good” in the past 10 years, during which time Bill ran zero campaigns. Hillary is an excellent position to make the most of her husband’s talents, as she has distanced herself from the former President so effectively that it’s possible her campaign can make full use of his talents (fund-raising, public speaking, policy building) without sacrificing anything to his shortcomings (ahem, uh, extra-marital affairs).
Among her biggest problems is her controversial stance on the war in Iraq. She voted for it, once upon a time, and now her campaign is riddled with questions about her stance, and the possibility of being labeled a “flip-flopper” like John Kerry, whose Twister-like maneuvers in 2004 cost him a great deal of votes. On a less significant note, we wonder about the legitimate chances of any candidate whose Google image search reveals a staggering amount of pictures like this and this.
Barack Hussein Obama
The junior U.S. Senator from Illinois defining moment came in 2004 when he gave a dynamic and exciting speech at the Democratic National Convention. Ever since, Obama has possessed a growing, rock-star status as a politician. A status which affords him the opportunity to raise funds as potentially rapidly as anyone else running.
His candor and charisma have given him deserved acclaim as the finest public speaker in politics since Bill Clinton, and as The Economist noted a few weeks ago, Obama is an even better speaker at this point in his career than Clinton was in a comparable position in his timeline. Much of the media has hailed Obama as a new kind of politician, and it is this distinction that may garner him a great deal of votes. Obama also gets credit for his open and early stance against the war, though this position is tempered as Obama was not around when the war began, and as such this position doesn’t hold as much weight as it would if Hillary Clinton had voted against the war in the first place. He also gets attention for natural ability to relate to people from distinct backgrounds. He self-identifies as a “black man of mixed heritage”, and he’s reasonable and thoughtful, so the big argument for Obama as President is that he has the ability to unite the parties.
The biggest knocks on him are a lack of experience and a lack of platform. Obama has only been in the U.S. Senate for 2 years and, despite being on the Senate Foreign Relations Commitee, lacks experience in foreign affairs (Mr. Thursday wonders what experience in foriegn affairs state governors have, as they’ve made for four of the past five Presidents). The other problem Obama has is that hardly ever speaks of policy, leading critics to suppose that he, in fact, has none. While Obama deserves the comparisons to Clinton in his prowess as a speechmaker, Clinton loved to talk the nuts and bolts of what he wanted to do in office, and he could make it interesting. Obama is mostly biography and rhetoric, and we wonder if there’s anything behind the pretty phrases.
John Sidney McCain III
John McCain is, as of this time, the leading Republican candidate, and possibly the leading candidate overall.
McCain is a passable public speaker. He does, however, have name and face recognition at the national level, and he has the ability to appeal not only to his own party, but to independents and Democrats, as well. He is for major expansion in the war in Iraq (spoken about here, briefly), believing that winning the war is vital to American security, and believes that a successful campaign is dependent upon a much larger force of troops in Iraq.
He’s been mostly against drilling in Alaska, but against ethanol subsidies, as well. He has concern over global warming and is a member of Republicans for Environmental Protection. He’s against the Federal Marriage Amendment, and believes that the issue should be decided on a state-by-state basis, supporting the ban on gay marriage. He might support gay “civil unions”, however. He supports stem cell research, though he was previously opposed to it. He wants to give amnesty to the 12+ million illegal immigrants in the U.S. and develop a guestworker program for immigrants. He’s considered “anti-gun” by Gun Owners of America.
If he can maintain popularity within his own party, he should be able to reach across the aisle for a lot of votes.
Johnny Reid “John” Edwards
John Edwards, the former Senator from North Carolina, is most well known, of course, for his unsuccessful bid to be the Democratic nominee for President in 2004. Edwards ultimately ran as Vice-President with John Kerry.
Edwards made millions as a trial lawyer. The death of his 16-year-old son, Wade, in 1996 prompted his exit from trial law and his foray into politics. Since his departure from the Senate, he has been the director of the “Center for Poverty, Work, and Opportunity” at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
Edwards is for stem cell research. He against the planned escalation in Iraq, a war for which he voted while in the Senate. He also voted in favor of the Patriot Act. He’s a major supporter of worker-visa expansion for immigrants. He is in favor of “abortion rights, affirmative action, and the death penalty”.
Edwards has essentially been on the Presidential campaign since he first joined the Senate in 1998. He retired from the Senate in 2004 and, ever since losing there, as continued, albeit unofficially, to grow support for his 2008 bid.
To be honest, we don’t really think he has a chance.
Rudolph William Louis “Rudy” Giuliani III
“America’s Mayor” in 2001 announced his candidacy, officially-speaking, earlier this week, though, like with many candidates, every knew he was going to do it already.
Giuliani is known for being a very popular mayor of New York City throughout most of the 1990s. He gained national visibility in the days after the World Trade Center attacks for his work coordinating relief and recovery from the wreckage, and helping to convey critical information to the rest of the city.
He had, however, gained some notoriety before then. Giuliani was very aggressive in crime fighting and prevention as mayor, notoriously instructing the police to ticket jaywalking (and other micro-crimes) to serve as a deterrant from committing more serious offenses. Additionally, Giuliani has been largely successful with urban reconstruction in New York City, converting Times Square from a strip of peep shows to a high priced shopping district. Giuliani also appeared on various talk shows a number of times as mayor, including The Late Show with David Letterman and Saturday Night Live.
Giuliani is not popular with social conservatives or liberals. Social conservatives question his morality–having been in three marriages and been at least suspected of infidelity a number of times. Liberals are appalled by his actions regarding the “Sensation Exhibition” at the Brooklyn Museum, in which Giuliani threatened to cut funding from the museum unless an “offensive piece”, The Holy Virgin Mary, was removed.
Giuliani can certainly gather a lot of the Republican vote, but it seems doubtful that he can reach Democrats in any meaningful way.
Willard Mitt Romney
This man with very large eyebrows was the governor of Bost–, er, Massachusetts from 2003 until 2007.
Romney is easily the most convervative of the candidates we’re reviewing. His position (in lightning round form!) are as follows: in favor of privatized health care (with subsidies for the poor); has strong education policies, rewarding teachers who teach well with bonuses and rewarding the top 25% of students with significant college scholarships; $3 billion deficit when he came into office, $500 surplus in 2005 (last date Wiki mentions); really, really against same-sex marriage, oh my, is he ever; in favor of death penalty for terrorists and other “really bad guys”; no abortion! unless you’ve been raped or incested, or if the life of the mother is threatened (isn’t the mother’s life always threatened? We mean, have you seen an 8 year old girl? Good Lord.); in favor of embryo stem-cell research, but against cloning to make new embryos; against “rewarding” illegal immigrants, but employs illegal alien lawnmowers (well, he probably does); hates the environment like whoa; against assault weapons; excellent use of the term “tar baby” in the original sense (a “sticky” situation); cuts taxes; has HUGE eyebrows.
Nobody knows who he is, but we suspect he’ll emerge over the coming months as a real contender. And don’t forget, he’s the only governor on our list–Senators always start hot, but flame out while Governors start slow and get the snowball rolling downhill. Or something like that. Stupid mixed metaphors.
Albert Arnold Gore Jr.
Al Gore is, offically speaking, not running for President in 2008. To the best of our knowledge, he filed no candidacy papers, formed no exploratory committees, and announced no intentions to run. That said, everyone in the media seems to think he’s going to run, so we’re going to take a look at him here, anyway.
Gore was Clinton’s Vice-President, and so he has extensive experience in the highest levels of politics. His bid for President in 2000 failed largely, many pundits suggest, because Gore handcuffed himself by listening to the wrong kinds of advisors. Since then, he’s been removed from active politics, instead focusing on the issues he feels passionate about, most notably the environment.
Gore supports Roe v. Wade, but doesn’t believe the Federal Government should pay for abortions. President Clinton was said to look to Gore for advice regarding foreign affairs, especially during Clinton’s first term, as Gore’s Congressional service offered him extensively more experience than Clinton’s governorship. Gore has been against the invasion of Iraq since the very beginning of the operation. As Vice-President, he greatly helped to improve the economy, reducing the deficit and creating over 20 million jobs. Gore also initiated the National Performance Review which pointed out fraud and monetary waste within the government, and helped to downsize and streamline the government to make it more cost effective. He supports governmental transparency. Gore has also been a long-time supporter of new technologies, supporting the earliest funding for the internet, and working with both Google and Apple since his departure from politics.
Since that departure, he’s also worked largely advocating for environmental responsibility, and has the remarkable distinction of making the environment a possibly legitimate issue in the coming elections. While he is certainly not the sole person or party responsibility for the country’s recent growth in environmental awareness, he is, perhaps, the cause’s figurehead.
We don’t know who here is in it for the long haul, and who will drop out early or who won’t run at all, but the election is less than 2 years away, and it’s already interesting to us.