Sunday, August 12, 2007

One of These Things is Not Like the Others

If there's one thing that's obvious about the 2008 presidential race, it's that the two major party nominees will both try to run on the change theme. President Bush's ratings are in the toilet and Congress's are worse. On immigration, the war, health care, the economy, education and anything else you can think of, the American people want change.

Mitt Romney recognizes that:

“Washington is broken,” Romney declared as freight trains whistled by just a few feet behind him in the parking lot of his local headquarters here. “Washington is unable to deal with the real challenges we have.” He cited immigration and spending, the two issues grassroots Republicans are most angry at their own party about.

But Romney also broadened his indictment. “Washington has not deal with the inadequacy of our health insurance system,” or Asian economic competition, he complained. Also, he said, “our effort against jihad needs to be expanded to include not just our military, though we need to strengthen our military, but also our non-military resources.”

The other leading GOP contenders are well-positioned to run on 'change' as well. Thompson hasn't held elective office in years and is not a career politician. McCain is anything but a typical Washington pol. Giuliani is a reformist Mayor who's never held federal office. Even Huckabee -- the darling of Ames -- is a clear outsider.

On the other side of the aisle, you have Barack Obama -- who's been in Washington for about a minute and a half. John Edwards' entire Senate career lasted about that long.

The only major candidate on either side who is a long-time creature of Washington is Hillary Clinton. She came to town with her husband, was in charge of health care policy when Tom Foley was Speaker of the House, and has generally spent the last 15 years pushing levers of power in DC while angling for higher office -- including changing her home state to expedite her rise.

Of all the major candidates, she is going to have the toughest time selling change. If you're a Democrat, that can't be a happy feeling as you consider her strong lead in the polls.

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