Cutting Through the Presidential Clutter

Too many candidates make for a lack of focus on the campaign.

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The presidential campaigns of both parties are not exactly illuminating, with the early jockeying for political points, myriad so-called debates, and the never-ending search for cash.

Very few voters nationwide are focusing on the race in August 2007, a long 15 months before the election. True, political junkies, me included, are writing about it. The latest trading of insults, the most recent poll, and the freshest money figures make news.

However, interest in most of this is minimal. Ask the man and woman on the street if they know that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are engaged in a hissy fit over whether to meet with foreign tyrants or that John McCain's once-promising campaign is in a heap of trouble.

As for debates, we are learning little with the platform so crowded with candidates in both parties. Each candidate has something of a standard pitch with little time to say it.

The fringe candidates, meanwhile, may be trying to shore up their speaking fees. The candidacies of such hopefuls as Republican Reps. Duncan Hunter and Ron Paul and Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich and former Sen. Mike Gravel are really not serious; everyone knows they cannot win.

In Des Moines on Sunday, ABC's George Stephanopoulos did make a valiant effort to get the GOP candidates in a real give-and-take. Other than on abortion, the candidates drifted to their best quote line.

Voters will have to wait for the squaring-off of only two rivals when the Commission on Presidential Debates sponsors three or four sessions in October of next year.