Feingold Decides Not To Run–Kerry, Clark and Possibly Gore Remain As Anti-War Candidates

Russ Feingold has announced he will not seek the nomination for President in 2008:

In a letter posted on his political action committee’s Web site, Feingold said he was excited that Tuesday’s elections gave Democrats control of both chambers of Congress, giving them the chance to “undo much of the damage that one-party rule has done to America.”

“We can actually advance progressive solutions to such major issues as guaranteed health care, dependence on oil and our unbalanced trade policies,” he wrote.

Feingold is likely making a wise decision to concentrate on making a mark in the Senate, leaving open the possibility of running in the future when he is better known nationally. Remaining in the Senate is undoubtably more attractive now thanit was as a member of the minority party.

Since the Democrats took control of the Senate, I’ve been wondering if the prospect of being in the majority, with the power to run meaningful investigations again, would cause John Kerry to reconsider giving up a sure Senate seat for a risky second Presidential bid. Feingold dropping out could help solidify Kerry’s position as major opponent of the war among Hillary Clinton’s challengers. As long as Feingold was in the race, there risked being continued attention being placed on the IWR vote, overshadowing Kerry’s strong advice to Bush not to go to war. I’ve feared that Feingold would attempt to use the IWR vote, much as Howard Dean did, as a litmus test on one’s position on the war, again distorting the actual meaning of the measure. Even if Wesley Clark enters as an anti-war candidate, he has previously stated he might have voted for the resolution and that it was not a good litmus test as to a person’s position on going to war. Feingold’s dropping out is also likely to result in increased calls in the blogosphere for Al Gore to enter the race.

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  1. 1
    battlebob says:

    My problems with both Big Al and John Edwards they have been out of the game for a while.
    If they want to run, they have to announce soon to get their positions and faces back in the limelight.
    I know both worked very hard supporing Dem candidates and they will help Dems in 2008.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    My problem with Edwards isn’t so much that he has been out of the game recently as much as that he was never really in the game. One term in the Senate where he didn’t accomplish anything of significance hardly qualifies him to be President.

    In Gore’s case, having been somewhat out of politics lets him run as a bit of an outsider despite his years of experience.

    Edwards is definately making moves towards running. Gore can afford to wait longer, but if he waits too long and then decides to run he risks having too many people already committed to someone else. There is the chance he might be waiting to be called upon if the selection is deadlocked, but we’ve seen that with the front loading of primaries it is possible for the nomination to get locked up very early.

  3. 3
    Karynnj says:

    Russ Feingold was one of the few people other than Kerry I could whole heartedly support.

    I think it is interesting that he allied with Kerry on the Kerry/Feingold amendments on Iraq, Afghanistan, and on the emergency ballots. This also suggests why Clinton joined the attack on Kerry.

    Could she have been concerned that had the Kerry flap blown over – as it was doing and in fact in the REAL world did – that Kerry would emerge as the leader of the progressive anti-Iraq part of the party. Kerry’s work to elect people was far more allied with Dean than the DLC and it sure looks like Feingold would be his ally.

    Consider that one thing that did come out of the election was a rejection of smear and fear. Kerry (along with Clark and Cleland) was the lead voice in defending others from swiftboating – and he was very successfull. Even now, many refer to the “Kerry dissed the troops” as swiftboating.

    If there is a rejection of swiftboating – where does that place Hillary – with her tacky comment. There was also an article last summer when Wolfson spoke of the Dems possibly needing to swiftboat too. In a way, Kerry is being tested with this second swiftboating. But, look how weak the accusation is – then consider that Iraq and corruption are the issues.

    Who has been a leader in what to do on Iraq and who is not only squeaky clean (no Keating 5, no cattle futures), but willing to stand alone to fight corruption. Kerry needs to get the BCCI story out.

  4. 4
    Sandy says:

    I think people are way past the politicking of this war and ‘voted against the war’ won’t do much for a candidate. People are going to want solutions, I seriously don’t think we’re going to get them out of this Gates guy. Hillary hasn’t been right on anything with this war any more than Bush has. I think it’ll have to come down to Clark or Kerry. I like Obama too, but I don’t know if charm is going to win out over experience, or whether it even should. He was against the war, maybe Russ has decided he’s the best bet and is going to side with him. I don’t know. I hope it’s a strategic move against Hillary at least.

  5. 5
    kj says:

    What Karynnj said. I think it will become very plain very quickly, not just because of the shorter primary season, who the 2008 nominee will be for the Dems.

    Clark or Kerry. Edwards is long gone, Gore is having too much fun being True Blue Al and Biden won’t want to face the old charges that knocked him out the first time, that he plagerized soemthing or other 400 years ago. And Hillary, if she runs, will be dead in the water very, very quickly. I have yet to meet one person on-line or in person who would vote for her.

    Just my thoughts. I want to see Max Cleland in a significant position.

  6. 6
    Lou says:

    “I want to see Max Cleland in a significant position.”

    Good to know I’m not the only one still in Max fan club.

  7. 7
    mbk says:

    KarynnJ and KJ–
    I agree with you 100%. Just would also add that Biden has a severe case of speaking-before-thinking, and that is likely to doom his campaign.

  8. 8
    Ron Chusid says:


    “Biden has a severe case of speaking-before-thinking”

    Please do it. In the age where everything is recorded on You Tube and publicized in the blogosphere it is impossible to be out campaigning full time without making some gaffes. People need to put them into perspective. If Biden and others do the same, people might begin to laugh them off and stop holding Kerry’s against him.


    “I think people are way past the politicking of this war and ‘voted against the war’ won’t do much for a candidate.”

    I think the average voter was beyond this even in 2004. Unfortunately the issue never died out in the blogosphere. If both Feingold and Kerry were running, we’d never here the end of on line comments on their IWR votes.

  9. 9
    Tano says:

    I am surprised to hear the name Kerry mentioned as a possibility for ’08. Living in a sea of active Dems, this is one of the few times or places I have heard anyone speak favorably of another Kerry run.

    Personally, I think things are lining up well for Obama. He will be, along with Hill, and Gore if he runs, one of the big players, and the only one that represents the future, and can generate any real excitement (ok, maybe Gore can a bit, but not throughout the party).

    Obama-Warner. Thats the ticket.

  10. 10
    Ron Chusid says:

    Kerry still has quite a bit of support. As opposed to “living in a sea of active Dems” I live in a Republican area, but still see lots of Kerry bumper stickers out there. He also generated lots of interest while out campaigning for other Democrats, despite the manner in which he was Swift Boated again.

    Obama-Warner sounds more like the race for the VP spot rather than the ticket for 2008. Obama, like Dean in 2003, will generate the excitement but once it becomes time to chose someone actually qualified to be President he will have trouble standing up to those with far more experience.

  11. 11
    kj says:

    Sandy, I’ve only now seen your post! I posted over you. Yes, Kerry or Clark.

    Lou, Max Fan Club alive and well here. 😉 Kerry/Cleland 2008

  12. 12
    battlebob says:

    Obama is the new hot ticket.
    I have a lot of friends who would rather see Obama then Kerry.
    They slant Obama’s lack of Senate experience is fine. He doesn’t have a record to pick apart. A lot of former Kerry supporters are hoping his little joke error dooms him. I think Kerry has faced tougher waters then this and will do fine.

    I am not overly happy with Obama’s short record.
    For instance, his support for Rice really angers me.
    He just hasn’t done that much. He has more politcal experience then Edwards as Obama was in the Illinois state house for years.

    I met Edwards at a raise-the-minimum-wage rally in Phoenix last year. He is one of the warmest and nicest folks you will ever meet. He still gives his standard born-in-a-log-cabin speech and it is like watching an old moview over and over. But the crowd really liked it and appreciated his support. Arizona passed legislation raising the minimum wage so maybe it did some good.

    Even in DeVoss country, there are still a lot of Kerry/Edwards stickers. The dream is still alive.

  13. 13
    Ron Chusid says:

    The argument that Obama’s record can’t be picked apart is true, but that isn’t a qualification to be President.

    I’m hoping that, if Kerry runs, the debates turn out like last time. Kerry was by far the most knowledgeable candidate and the one most articulate on the issues. If Kerry appears to be the strongest candidate in such a match up with others, it will be easy to forget minor gaffes.

    Both Edwards and Obama are excellent politicians, but I don’t see either as being in Kerry’s league. If Kerry can’t win the nomination again, I’d like to find out more about Vilsack, and see if Clark has used the last few years to study up more on domestic policy.

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