Political Insider finds Dobbs using the traditional language of future candidates testing the waters. In this case, it's the 'the American people are looking for [someone like me]' angle:
Is populist CNN broadcast Lou Dobbs mulling a political future? Writing at CNN.com last week, Dobbs said, "One year from now, we will have elected a new president. As eager as I am for that reality, I can't imagine any one of the current candidates for their party's nomination being chosen by the American people to lead this nation for the next four years. I believe the person elected a year from now will be an Independent populist, a man or woman who understands the genius of this country lies in the hearts and minds of its people and not in the prerogatives and power of its elites."
Dobbs continued, "As I travel around the country, my feeling about the lack of true candidates is validated by those I talk with: They are not excited about the candidates seeking their party's nomination." He concluded by saying, "I believe next November's surprise will be the election of a man or woman of great character, vision and accomplishment, a candidate who has not yet entered the race."
Obviously, Dobbs' experience and appeal are too narrow to imagine that he would do be a legitimate candidate for the White House. However, he probably has more potential to affect the race as a third-party candidate than Ron Paul or Ralph Nader -- two other people mentioned as possible third-party candidates.
Would he hurt the Republican or the Democrat more? That's tough to say.
The Democrats are traditionally more protectionist than the Republicans; if the Democratic nominee sees an opening to win support from Wall Street, that could leave room for Dobbs to appeal to labor. His populist rants against the high and mighty might sound more Republican than Democrat right now.
But in the last few years at least, it seems that immigration has been a bigger issue for him than trade. He's had harsh words for Democrats and President Bush, over their support for 'comprehensive reform.' It certainly appears that whoever the nominees are, the 2008 race is likely to see a return to type -- with the GOP standing for tough anti-illegal immigration laws, and the Democrats more supportive of legalization. This might lead Dobbs to focus his criticisms on the Democratic nominee.
But in the end, it would probably be up to Dobbs. His populist repertoire is broad enough to allow him to train his fire on either the Republican or the Democrat. He could wind up being a kingmaker.
What a scary thought.