Friday, December 08, 2006

"If Gore runs, he can afford to wait"

It seems the more longshot the race, the earlier a candidate throws his or her hat into the ring. Vilsack started things off. Now that we're in the holiday season, most will wait until January. Obama will likely wait a few months more since really, what's the hurry? He's got the fawning press all over him already. He might as well wait until that sort of peters out, announce, then recapture the media spotlight.

It was clear that Hillary wanted to 1) wait a while to announce (she'll have a bullseye on her when she does), and 2) skip Iowa. Now, with Obama in the race, she can't do either. People aren't chattering about Hillary anymore. They're chattering about Obama. So she has to announce and hope to steal some of that thunder. And given that Obamamania isn't dying down, she'll have to do that sooner rather than later. And with Obama in position to deal a knockout blow in Iowa, she'll have to compete there as well.

Obama can afford to wait on Hillary. Their big decision will be whether to step on her announcement or let her breathe. In 2003, John Edwards announced on September 15 to much buzz. Then, on September 17, Wes Clark stole Edwards' thunder by making his own announcement. (Those late announcement dates are sort of funny and quaint. We'll be on a much more accelerated schedule this year.) So Obama will be in position to squelch the Clinton media rollout with his own. It would be the sort of Machiavellian move that would signal his willingness to play tough politics.
Which brings us to Gore.

There's few reasons for him to even hint at joining the fray this early. The biggest potential liability is the loss of the good consultants and strategists to other campaigns. But the talent would exist to shepherd him through the early contests. I mean, he's Al Freakin' Gore. He doesn't need a traditional campaign to sell him to voters. And in any case, we'd see defections from other campaigns to join the Gore bandwagon.

So when? No sooner than December 2007. Let the rest of the field beat the shit out of each other before Gore comes in, savior-like, to pull together a fractured and divided party. At that point, no amount of Obamamania could stop a Gore nomination.

No comments: