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Monday, December 16, 2002

The Race to be Dubya's Foil-Upon further reflection, it might well be a Kerry-Lieberman race now that Gore has dropped out of the race. The establishment liberal wing of the party will be for Kerry while the DLC wing will break for Lieberman. The key for the other candidates is to gain access to "the pack" and to have the media get down to the third or fourth candidate. Getting to 20% (or to within 5% of the leaders, whichever is less) in the polls should give then that access. Edwards -He could make some inroads as a populist fresh face, but he'll have to do more that just be a fresh face; I'm sensing Edwards will be a Democratic analog of Alexander the Plaid, where Lamar got to 25% in 1996 largely on style, but couldn't make a case on substance. He's got a bit of an opening to get some of Gore's southern votes, but will have a hard time winning non-Southern states. Gephardt-He could sneak up to 20% and be part of the lead pack if he can put together a labor-centrist coalition; he would have a better shot of doing this without Lieberman in the race. Daschle-I don't see him running; he has an opening, but I don't think he'll sell well in a primary campaign; he's fighting in Kerry's terrain with a charisma deficit. Dean-If Edwards is an Alexander 1996 analog, Dean is Bruce Babbitt 1988. He'll be the reporter's favorite candidate as something of a freethinker and a good quote man. He could get off some zingers in the early debates, but will get lucky to get into the teens. If he does, and there's a four or five man race, he could run as the candidate of the left from outside the Washington orthodoxy. In which case, he'll not be Babbitt '88 but get the Birkenstock crowd going "Clean for Dean" a la McCarthy '68.

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