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August 26, 2005

Chuck Hagel: Ready To Run For President As An Independent?

We're not even at the 2006 midterms, but the 2008 rumors are flying.

Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel is privately meeting with his top advisors and political contributors to discuss the prospects of an independent bid for the White House in 2008, a high level GOP source told me this morning.

According to the source, Hagel has already begun to posture himself as an independent, believing that by doing so he can tap into the perceived growing frustration voters feel toward both major political parties. Recent polls show widespread voter dissatisfaction with leaders of both the Republican and Democrat parties in Washington.

At issue is the concern among Hagel higher-ups that the Nebraska Senator will not be able to outshine Sen. John McCain in a GOP primary. Hagel and McCain are reported to be close friends and share a similar profile: both are Vietnam veterans and both enjoy reputations as “mavericks” in the Senate.

But McCain is an 800 lb gorilla; Hagel a mischievous lemur, at best.

So one idea being considered heavily by Hagel and his senior staff and top financial backers is for the senator to launch an independent bid for the presidency, thereby avoiding a rough-and-tumble, uphill climb with unpromising results.

Is McCain really the 800 pound gorilla? My apologizes to co-host Karol, who thinks the idea of his winning the GOP primaries a fantasy, but I was a Guiliani man in college, and I'm a Guiliani man to this day.

Here's how he can win:

1) Yes, he has to do some very nakedly-political backtracking on abortion. George Bush the Elder got away with this, saying something about his grandchildren making him a believer in the pro-life cause, and Guiliani could say something similar about 9-11 causing him to have a new appreciation for the value of life.

A complete sham, of course. But it could be enough.

He doesn't have to go whole-hog into the pro-life camp -- George Bush the Younger hasn't quite done that, noting this country isn't "ready" to outlaw abortion -- but he could make promises, as Bush did, about promoting the value of life.

2) He needs to promise to appoint strict constructionists to the Supreme Court. Most people are savvy enough to know that it's the judges, not the elected politicians, who make most of the decisions on hot-button social issues, and Guiliani can vow to appoint Scalias rather than Souters.

Which probably wouldn't be a serious change of political heart for him, as he surely is already annoyed with liberal judges making laws.

3) He can retain some of his socially-liberal positioning while simultaneously promising to not advance any socially-liberal causes on the federal level, as President. His stock answer can be "I think that should be resolved, as the Constitution designed it to be, on the state issue," which is a very nice dodge, and, as an added bonus, also happens to be a constitutionally and politically sound position on many of these issues.

Is that enough to appease the strongly-conservative Republican base? I don't know-- but the man has an awful lot of goodwill, and no one doubts his balls or capacity for leadership.

Thanks to the Blogometer for the Ankle-Biting Pundits link.

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posted by Ace at 10:26 AM

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