Is Obama-McCain Race a Replay of Clinton-Dole in 1996?

Democrats note similarities, with young candidate promising change taking on experienced war veteran.


The current presidential campaign between Barack Obama and John McCain increasingly resembles the 1996 contest between Democratic incumbent Bill Clinton and Republican challenger Bob Dole, Democratic strategists say.

In that race, Clinton came across as the young, vigorous candidate who talked about the future—he pledged to build a "bridge to the 21st Century"—and who promised to find new answers to America's problems, comparable to Obama's appeal today.

Dole, a veteran senator from Kansas, billed himself as a former war hero (from World War II) with a wealth of experience in Washington who promised wise, proven leadership—as McCain does now.

Given the choice, voters went solidly for Clinton. "Dole wasn't seen as having the right answers for the time," says Democratic pollster Mark Penn, who advised Clinton in 1996 and was a senior strategist for Hillary Clinton this year.

Penn sees a similar outcome on November 4.