I think that we can all agree, regardless of party affiliation and varying degrees of apathy, that 2007 has been an interesting year for American politics. Of course, from an international point of view it’s all probably seemed terribly boring and petty in the timelines of historical events this year (the Saffron Revolution, the sudden exposure of the ongoing crisis in Darfur, and the war in Iraq, to name a few). But it’s difficult to turn on the news, any news, without stumbling across reporters that sit on the doorsteps of politicians, slavering and begging for scraps of information – whether those scraps are relevant to campaign issues or not. Or loud, angry, theatrical debate shows that hammer a railroad spike further and deeper into the already significant divide in this country.But I digress. This particular article has been created in an effort to distill and summarize the Presidential campaign in the year 2007. In an effort to keep things relatively brief, I’ll be focusing on who I consider to be the top three candidates in both the Democratic and Republican parties. Namely, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama on the Democrat side and Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson and Ron Paul for the Republicans.
Hillary ClintonThe pieces were more or less set by the time 2006 came to an end and no one was surprised to see Hillary Clinton joining the race. The wife of former President Bill Clinton, Hillary served as Senator in New York before joining the Presidential campaign.If nominated, Hillary Clinton would be the first female Presidential nomination in the history of the United States. Hillary led popularity polls early in 2007 and set records for her campaign fundraising. Soon after, however, Barack Obama gained a slight lead in campaign funds, but recently Clinton has once again stepped ahead of her competitors.Until very recently Clinton ran a solid campaign with very little error. Unfortunately for her, she recently had significant difficulty and exhibited significantly poor performance during a Democratic debate. Her performance may hurt her, as other Presidential hopefuls are clinging to the one weak point that she has exposed.
John EdwardsThe least popular of the three main contenders for the Presidential nomination, former North Carolina Senator Edwards officially joined the Presidential race from the yard of a decimated home in New Orleans.Edwards ran for President in 2004, but did not guarantee the nomination and instead ran as Vice President for John Kerry. They lost the 2004 race to the incumbent, George W. Bush.Thus far Edwards has run a solid, if lackluster campaign. Constantly trailing behind Clinton and Obama in polls and funding, Edwards has done little to distinguish himself from the pack besides a half-hearted effort to influence campaign funding by stating that he would not take donations from large corporations. Unfortunately, his peers were unresponsive to this move.
Barack ObamaObama joined the race early in 2007 after a period of indecision. Originally, he had not planned to join the presidential race, but after (supposedly) much encouragement, he decided to join the race and appears to be a strong contender as well as significant threat to Hillary Clinton. If elected, Obama would be the first black President of the United States.Obama’s campaign raised fifty-eight million dollars in the first six months of 2007, breaking all previous records. 29% of that total consisted of small, individual donations of two hundred dollars or less.Barack Obama has yet to stumble in his campaign for Presidency. He has leaned heavily on Hillary Clinton following her poor performance in a recent debate and follows her very closely in national polls. Granted, it is very early in the campaign, but if Obama continues along this path he will prove to be an extremely strong contender for the Democratic nomination.
Rudy GiulianiGiuliani is the former Mayor of New York and is one of the most highly recognized candidates in the running for President. Prior to his two terms as Mayor, Giuliani served as U.S. Attorney. In addition, he is famed for his response to the tragedy of 9/11 and, subsequently, was named “Person of the Year” by Time magazine and received an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II.Though a GOP candidate, Giuliani’s views on gay rights and abortion separate him from the other contenders seeking the Republican nomination. In addition, his qualifications to be President of the United States are questionable, at best.Early in 2007 Giuliani made his opinion on the war in Iraq known during a GOP debate in which he interrupted fellow candidate Ron Paul while Paul explained his belief that America suffered the 9/11 attacks in response to Militaristic intervention policy. Giuliani was quoted as saying, “As someone who lived through the attack of September 11, that we invited the attack because we were attacking Iraq. I don’t think I’ve heard that before, and I’ve heard some pretty absurd explanations for September 11th.”
Fred ThompsonMost easily recognized from his role in NBC’s television series Law & Order, Thompson joined the campaign in September – a relatively late decision. Prior to his acting career, Fred Thompson served as a Republican Senator from Tennessee .When Thompson joined the race late in 2007 many considered it an awkward time and way to go about things. He announced his intentions on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and directed viewers to a fifteen minute long video he had published on his website that explained his bid for the Presidency in greater detail.Fred Thompson seems to be indecisive and, at best, only slightly interested in being President. He declined to debate famed filmmaker Michael Moore earlier in the year and, in debates, has said little to distinguish himself from his running mates. Opinion polls place him just slightly above John McCain which, thus far, isn’t saying much.
Ron PaulPaul has served the state of Texas as a Congressman three times and joined the Presidential campaign early in 2007. He was reported as saying that he was “pleasantly surprised” by early exploratory committee findings and seems to be honestly surprised that he could, conceivably, secure the Republican nomination. At the time he joined the race, Ron Paul had nearly the least name recognition of any candidate.Politically and philosophically, Ron Paul has been labeled as a conservative, Constitutionalist, libertarian. He voted against the Iraq War Resolution in favor of force against terrorists in Afghanistan. On top of that, Ron Paul opposed the Patriot Act, the federal War on Drugs, and gun control. Needless to say, Ron Paul is the most unique Republican in the race and has separated himself from his running partners.Interestingly, much of Ron Paul’s sudden popularity has stemmed from unprecedented online support. At best Paul joined the campaign as a long-shot candidate, but his online support alone has driven Paul into the spotlight and he is quickly becoming one of the most popular choices for the Republican nomination.
There you have it; six of the biggest personalities and strongest contenders for the Presidential nomination next year. Regardless of personal feelings towards the candidates as individuals, it goes without saying that 2008 promises to be an interesting year for political junkies and anyone with a casual interest in the future of our beloved United States.
If you’d like to hear more about my (completely biased) personal picks and opinions on the candidates, check out my follow-up to the Campaign Rundown – 2007.