Those midterm elections Tuesday continue to help weed out and build up the list of candidates expected to run for president in 2008. Let's start with the growing list of big losers. You can add Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, who whined about the travel, and two foot-in-mouth senators, Republican George Allen and Democrat John Kerry.
Frist, who was a lackluster candidate at best, is being written off by his own party elders because of the power shift in the Senate. Also, you can forget about Allen campaign manager Dick Wadhams, who was being heralded as the next James Carville or Ken Mehlman for helping South Dakota Sen. John Thune slay former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle. Even his own team says the Allen campaign was a disaster. Also gone: Ken Mehlman, the able GOP chairman (some say best ever), who's got to be worn out after running President Bush's re-election and the midterms. He plans to announce his plans in the coming weeks.
Now the bright spots: Add Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty
to the stack of presidential timber. The conservative was down for the count in a purple state but came back to win re-election. "T-Paw," as his supporters call him, has a bright national future, say GOP bigs. Over a chicken lunch, Mehlman said T-Paw "is a fantastic leader." Put New Mexico Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson on the list of Dems seeking the job. He is chairman of the Democratic Governors Association
and raised $13 million for his team. He'll most likely enter the race in January and says he's got lots to offer the nation. Over bacon and eggs today, he spelled out his Iraq policy: Start withdrawing in 2007 to other regions, and get Middle East nations to join in rebuilding Iraq. One problem: He's a very likable guy, but he seems to lack the energy a candidate needs. But maybe that was because he was sitting next to Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean, who was at his best touting why the Dems did well Tuesday. Oh, let me add: Richardson, who is looking much thinner, skipped the meal. Dean ate it all and even spread butter on his chocolate-filled pastry.
And on the staffing level, watch Steve Schmidt
, the campaign manager for California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnold was headed for defeat before the former Bush and Cheney aide went to Sacramento; now that campaign is being held up as the model for revamping the national GOP.