Politics & Policy

President Rice?

Dick Morris looks at 2008 prospects.

The next presidential election is Condi vs. Hillary, as far as Dick Morris is concerned. And if it is, it doesn’t look good for Senator Clinton. He writes up the 2008 election in his new book, Condi vs. Hillary : The Next Great Presidential Race, written with his wife, Eileen McGann. NRO Editor Kathryn Lopez recently talked with Morris about the political prospects to come.

Kathryn Jean Lopez: Is there really no one among the entire Democratic party who could give Hillary Clinton some serious competition on the road to the White House, 2008?

Dick Morris: No there isn’t. Hillary is currently getting 44 percent of the vote in the Fox News poll of Democracy primary voters. Her nearest rivals are Kerry at 12 percent, Edwards at 12 percent, Gore at 7, and Biden at 4. Sometimes one thinks that as candidates get known that they will move up, but, as all four of her opponents have already run for president and lost, they won’t. The nomination is Hillary’s.

Lopez: Fast forward to the general election: ONLY Condi can beat Hillary? Not McCain? Not-yes, “Bush, Clinton, Bush, Bush!”-Jeb? Not a lesser known who works hard between now and then (Romney? Allen?)?

Morris: Rudy Guiliani could beat Hillary but the Republican party will never nominate him. He is pro-choice, pro-gun control, pro-affirmative action, pro-immigration, and pro-gay rights. How many litmus tests can you fail and still carry South Carolina? McCain also can’t get nominated. In 2000, he couldn’t win Republican votes and other captured some primaries because of the influx of independents. Independents will be in the Democratic primary this time, driven there by their like or dislike of Hillary. And McCain is too independent, too against tobacco, too much for radical corporate-governance reform, and too much for campaign-finance reform to win the nomination.

The others? No regular white male can win. What? Are white women going to vote for a Romney over a Hillary? In which world? Hillary carried women in New York by more than 20 points! Can a white Republican get black votes when Bush couldn’t? Give me a break.

Lopez: You say in the book that “With Condi in the race in the race, Hillary can’t win.” Why are you so certain of that?

Morris: Because she would take away a third to a half of the black vote and would stop Hillary from gaining among white women. White men are a given. They will vote against Hillary by 2-1 as they voted against Gore and against Kerry. But blacks and white women are the moving pieces of this electoral puzzle.

Lopez: You dismiss the McCain-Rudy option on a primary level. But if it is clear that a Rudy or McCain is the only shot there won’t be a second Clinton administration, won’t a heck of a lot of conservative voters


Morris: Not if there is a social conservative, religiously grounded candidate like Condi Rice around.

Lopez: On Condi: She’s described herself as “mildly pro-choice.” Why are you so sure pro-life conservatives will be okay with her?

Morris: Because she strongly believes in protecting human life, she favors parental consent and notification, and opposes Medicaid funding [of abortion]. The “mildly” part of her position is that she opposes abortion but worries about government action to prevent it.

Lopez: Has Hillary been impressive as a senator?

Morris: No way. She has passed 22 bills. Fourteen are symbolic measures like renaming courthouses and post offices. She has passed only three substantive bills–one on respite for caregivers to long-term patients, one on nurse recruitment, and one on foreign land-mine victims. That is hardly the record New Yorkers expected when they voted for her.

Lopez: Condi doesn’t–obviously anyway–display that yearning for the top-job you see in, say, most of the Senate. What makes you think she’ll go for it?

Morris: The key is for her supporters to make it possible for her to run. By forming Condi committees and running local delegate slates, they can move her ahead in the race and make it obvious that she is the choice for America for the presidency. This will be a draft. Just like it was for Eisenhower in 1952.


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