The Campaign Spot

Comparing the Second Tiers of the GOP and the Democrats

This comment by the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza I find baffling. I won’t attribute it to bias, but I suspect it does say a bit about what constitutes “highly accomplished” and commendable in the minds of the Post, or at least one of its top political reporters. 

I have long believed that the Democratic field is quite a bit deeper than the Republican field.
The fact that you have Sens. Chris Dodd (Conn.) and Joe Biden (Del.) as well as Gov. Bill Richardson (N.M.) — all highly accomplished men — firmly esconsed in the second tier tells you something about the quality of the Democratic field.
As I said in my winners and losers post, I though former Gov. Mike Huckabee (Ark.) again acquitted himself nicely in last night’s debate. Many of the other second tier candidates, however, failed to make any impression at all.   

Cillizza contends that because those three are going nowhere in the polls, it reflects how high the quality is among the more popular Democrats. I’m not sure I agree. I think it just says that three guys with lengthy resumes are going on meaningless self-congratulatory applause-seeking efforts before retiring and writing their memoirs.

 

Richardson keeps putting in debate and interview performances that make you wonder how he accumulated the resume that he did. He flopped on Russert, he looked uncomfortable and meandering in the debates, has put up a funny ad that essentially repeats his resume… and we haven’t even gotten into the scandal rumors.

 

Biden? I find something likeable about him, but it’s really unimaginable that the Democrats will nominate him. He’s way too hawkish for the Deaniacs/Kossacks/base; he’s the closest thing to Lieberman running this year (which says something about how dovish the Democratic party has become). He’s got too many weird moments – Indians in 7-11, Obama’s the first clean African-American candidate, etc. to really be

 

Chris Dodd? Very few people were yearning for him to run before he announced his campaign, and very few people are paying attention to him now. If he were really that accomplished and impressive, wouldn’t he be getting more than six percent in his home state?

 

So really, I only see three Democrats at this moment who have a serious shot at the nomination: Hillary, Obama, and Edwards. If Gore jumped in, it would be a different story, but I just don’t see enough signs that the former veep is serious.

 

The GOP has, in my humble opinion, four candidates with a serious shot at the nomination (Rudy, Romney, McCain and Fred Thompson) and one guy who has the style, but not the natural base or funding, in Gov. Mike Huckabee. He’ll get serious veep consideration, I suspect.

 

To me, it’s three serious Dems vs. five serious Republicans. Deeper bench? GOP.

 

One other note – I find it easy to picture certain combinations of the GOP five on the same ticket. (It’s hard to see McCain or Rudy as number two to anybody, but I could see Mitt, Fred, or Huckabee in the veep slot.) I can’t see a Democratic fusion ticket out of their top three. I think there’s just too much bad blood/disagreement/rivalry between their big three, and I don’t think any would settle for the number two spot.

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