Thursday, November 8, 2007

November 7, 2007

     Well, the frontrunners may be getting farther in front.  Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani gets endorsed by Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson?  Oh wow!  How often does a bigtime televangelist endorse someone who's for gay rights and abortion rights?  I don't know, but it doesn't happen every week.
     The other startling, recent GOP development came when Carl Cameron, chief political correspondent at Fox News, was trying to hurry his studio along so he could start his interview with former Senator Fred Thompson. "The next president has a schedule to keep," Cameron reminded the studio.  And Thompson piped up, "And so do I."  Well, was that a concession, or what?
     And Hillary Clinton?  I had started to worry that she was getting the frontrunner syndrome where your advisors keep telling you, "You're ahead, now just don't make a mistake!"  The result is you retreat into caution and vagueness--no specifics,  no controversial stands on tough issues.  I can remember Ed Muskie, the Maine senator who was the Democratic frontrunner in 1972, putting aside undelivered, perfectly sensible speeches his writers had given him and saying things like how much he wanted to help his neighbor or, "Let me live in a house by the side of the road/ And be a friend to man." That undistinguished line from a 19th century poet, Sam Walter Foss, didn't, somehow, seem to have much to do with running for president.  And there was Clinton in a recent debate coming out for and against driver's licenses for illegal aliens.        
     But a senior Clinton aide insisted the other day that frontrunner syndrome won't happen, that Clinton has real positions on the issues.  Well, she may be a bit inconclusive about Iraq, but so are they all, just about.  It is tempting to waffle when you're in front, but Clinton is a very disciplined candidate, I think, and she may resist that.
     The only really unpredictable factor is, of course, the voters themselves.  Unlike most voters, those in Iowa and New Hampshire have already thought a lot about this election. They know they come first and they take that role seriously.  Four years ago Vermont Governor Howard Dean was the favorite early on.  But he finished third in Iowa, second in New Hampshire, and gave up his bid shortly thereafter.
     One role that doesn't change:  it ain't over 'til they count the votes.  

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