Early Returns: Handicapping '08

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Here is an early look at the premature run for president in 2008 already underway.


Sen. John McCain

Plus: He has plenty of money, a prominent name, and experience after running in 2000.

Minus: Will the right wing, suspicious of his maverick manner in the past, turn to him?

Gov. Mitt Romney

Plus: He has appeal as a governor of bright-blue Massachusetts with oratorical flash and good looks.

Minus: Will the GOP turn to a Mormon who has shifted on some social policies?

Rudolph Giuliani

Plus: The proclaimed hero of 9/11 in New York City who has a gift at the microphone.

Minus: Will a confirmed liberal on social issues get a response from GOP conservatives in the South?

Newt Gingrich

Plus: The author of the Contract With America in the 1994 GOP takeover of the House is a whirling dervish in campaign bluster.

Minus: His personal life has negatives, and many don't really take him seriously.

Sen. Sam Brownback

Plus: A right-wing senator could fill a void when other rivals appear to be center right on most policy matters.

Minus: As a senator unknown outside his home in Kansas, he faces a formidable challenge in the primaries.

Rep. Duncan Hunter

In short, the congressman from California was the first man to announce. But is he kidding anyone?


Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton

Plus: She has the name identification, a bulging campaign treasury, and a huge lead in polls, no matter how meaningless this early.

Minus: Can she win, even if nominated, since she polarizes many voters?

Sen. Barack Obama

Plus: He's already a huge hit on the road, treated as a movie star in New Hampshire earlier this month.

Minus: As a freshman senator, his experience on the national stage is untested and he hasn't faced a real challenge yet.

John Edwards

Plus: He maintains some appeal as one who ran with John Kerry in a failed bid in 2004, but he came out relatively unscathed.

Minus: He is focusing his campaign on the poverty issue, a noble but hardly winning formula.

Al Gore

Plus: The presidential candidate who won the popular vote in 2000 has traction on the environmental issue and some carryover appeal from that controversial loss to Bush.

Minus: He's an old face and may not want to run.

Evan Bayh

Plus: He's a fresh face who wins elections as governor and senator in the very red state of Indiana.

Minus: He will be running as a confirmed moderate, tough in a primary dominated in many states by liberal activists.

Gov. Tom Vilsack

Plus: The outgoing governor of Iowa, an announced candidate, has an interesting life story.

Minus: Can an unknown duplicate Jimmy Carter in 1976? Most unlikely in 2008.

Others: Joseph Biden, Wesley Clark, and Christopher Dodd may or may not intrude into this crowded field, but they are facing tremendous obstacles.