Media pundits consider Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York the presumed Democratic frontrunner should she win her reelection and enter the Democratic race for the White House. The former First Lady may prove to be a tough, resilient campaigner but she would be a polarizing candidate known for offending those whose sensibilities are more in tune with those in the Bible Belt and middle America.
Unfairly in some cases and fairly in others, Hillary Clinton will inherit problems associated with her husband's White House behavior, from campaign finance irregularities, the pardon of Mark Rich, and the president's decision to lie under oath concerning his sexual indiscretions. Democratic operatives seeking to repair damage inflicted upon them by his first term excesses, and Dean's latest verbal gaffes would do well to look at other potential Democratic candidates before settling on a one-term senator who may be using her term as a foothold to win herself back into the White House.
Hillary Clinton no doubt has moved to the center in the senate. She won herself a seat on the Armed Services Committee, supported our war in Afghanistan and voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq. Not too long ago, Hillary Clinton said abortions should be rare and supported those who say men and women should be encouraged to abstain from premarital sex while re-affirming her pro-abortion choice and sexual education views.
But the very centrists who may provide the necessary votes to win an election may not trust her and opt for others who over the long haul have proven their centrist credentials. Senator Evan Bah of Indiana, for one, has won re-election in a conservative state and, like Hillary Clinton, voted with the president on Afghanistan and Iraq. He has strong credentials with the small and big business communities while maintaining a fairly strong pro-environmental record and he has voted with the party on most social issues but has kept himself out of the spotlight on these social issues and has voted for a ban on partial birth abortion.
Republicans will remind centrist voters of Hillary Clinton's botched health care plan that failed to garner the necessary votes in the then Democratic controlled senate and her vote against a partial birth abortion ban notwithstanding her declared support for one that provides for exceptions should the life or "health" of the mother be threatened.
The junior senator from New York will have to run for re-election in a fairly liberal and Democratic state two years before she can really position herself to the center, making the recent speculation concerning her White House ambitions seem premature. Senator Bayh will merely need to reaffirm his centrist credentials and will not have to defend his seat until 2010, two years after the presidential elections.
Virginia Governor Mark Warner is also looking at a White House run and has started to run and like Senator Bayh, he won his election in a state that leans Republican in presidential elections. He has largely avoided votes on hot-button social issues though he cannot win run for a second term (one-term limit in Virginia). Mr. Warner will have the executive experience Evan Bayh and Hillary Clinton lack but his foreign policy credentials have yet to be established.
Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico may enter the race as well but he lacks the charisma and Hillary Clinton's celebrity status. Pennsylvania's Governor Ed Rendell has a 2006 re-election campaign to win but he might consider a run for the office if he wins and Hillary Clinton declines to run for the White House.
And then there's Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware. The Political Heretic believes he will not run for the White House unless he is willing to give up his senate seat which will be up for a vote at the same time but should he be tired of the senate and ambitious he would be a worthy candidate.
This blogger considers him a leading Democratic spokesperson on foreign policy given his position as Ranking Minority Leader on the Foreign Relations Senate Committee, his consistent and forceful support of military and peace-keeping operations pushed by President George W. Bush and his predecessor, and his willingness to speak out on these matters on the talk shows. He voted to authorize military force in Bosnia, the breakaway Serbian province of Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq and unlike Senator and former presidential candidate John Kerry, he has not wavered from his support. The Democratic senator from Delaware has criticized our president on the implementation and on the president's policy on war combatants but he re-affirmed his support for the war and opposes any efforts to withdraw our troops from Iraq.
Senator Biden sides with the liberals within his party on the social issues more often than not. He supports abortion rights, most gay rights legislation, environmental regulations, affirmative action like the others mentioned above which will serve him well in the primary but he did vote for the ban on partial birth abortion but of those who are thinking of a White House run he alone has the gravitas needed to successfully challenge the Republicans' dominance on national security.