On President Cheney

Bob Woodward is saying that Dick Cheney is a serious dark horse candidate for 2008.

Sorry, but it ain’t gonna happen. Age and health preclude it. Although Cheney is an excellent civil servant and exactly the kind of person that would make a fine Commander in Chief in a time of war, I don’t see Cheney having designs on the White House.

I do agree that if you’re looking for dark horse candidates, look towards Saint Paul where a young, dynamic, and popular governor in an increasingly purple state has a bright political future ahead of him.

It’s far too early to start handicapping the 2008 race quite yet (not that such a thing will stop anyone), but I’m rather doubtful that Vice President Cheney is a serious contended for 2008 – although stranger things have happened.

14 thoughts on “On President Cheney

  1. Pawlenty? He’s going to have enough trouble just staying in the governor’s mansion, let alone trying for the presidency… though that doesn’t completely rule out the possiblity of a midwestern Republican in 2008- I’d keep an eye on Chuck Hagel if I were you…

  2. Yeah, I think Pawlenty’s lack of foreign policy experience will be a hindrance. At least thought, Pawlenty will end up on a short list for VP. It’s just a good nod to MN’s swing-statedness.

  3. I’m sure that Pawlenty will be on the short list of VP candidates in 2008 and could very easily carry Minnesota if he’s on the ticket. I seriously doubt you’ll see him at the top of the ticket, however. As for Pawlenty returning to the Governor’s mansion in ’06, I could see Mike Hatch giving Pawlenty a run for his money, but my money’s on a second Pawlenty term. The DFL has given Pawlenty no end of campaign ammunition with all their tax increase proposals, which plays right into the hands of Pawlenty’s suburban base. Any DFL candidate other than Hatch will be destroyed by Pawlenty who, if nothing else, is a very shrewd politician.

    As for Cheney, I don’t think his popularity has been above 40% at any point since 2001. Cheney would be one of the few possible candidates that Hillary Clinton could beat. Furthermore, expect virtually everybody with a traditional pension plan to have it stolen in the next four years, with recent corporate attempts to default on their pension guarantees and pass the cost onto taxpayers all proving successful, opening the floodgates for other companies to do the same. Cheney is essentially the public face of robber-baron corporate America, and his public stock can only be expected to decline further when more people he is directly aligned with walk off with the pensions of tens of millions of Americans.

  4. Pawlenty should definitely devote his time/energy to the gubernatorial race. Although I agree that he could help to carry MN if he was on the ticket (even though VPs usually don’t swing a ticket, MN is trending red anyway), the governor’s office is a better place for him right now. He doesn’t have the presidential air yet. Hatch will present a good race, but Pawlenty will beat him. This legislative session, which will inevitably go into special session, will only help. Pawlenty will get credit for sticking by his no new taxes pledge, while, at the same time, making the Legislature look incompetent in being unable to approve his budget or present a viable one of their own. He’s politically savvy, and it will be interesting to see what happens to Pawlenty once he gets more policy leadership, foreign policy experience and national recognition going.

  5. Mike Hatch is wildly popular in rural Minnesota, particularly northern Minnesota, where I don’t believe Pawlenty is so popular. The proposals to further cut Local Government Aid to outstate communities is not likely to help Pawlenty’s image in the region, and may cancel out whatever advantage he would otherwise get from harping on DFL tax increase proposals. In a two-person race where there are no Jesse Venturas or Tim Pennys to take away DFL votes, Hatch could easily pose a challenge Pawlenty’s suburban base can’t overcome. It’s imperative that Hatch is the gubernatorial candidate, however. If the DFL opts for Dean Johnson or Steve Kelley, I can’t imagine a scenario where Pawlenty loses.

    Last year at this time, I would have agreed that Minnesota was “trending red,” but now I’m not so sure. In the 2004 state House races, the DFL picked off Republican incumbents in every region of the state, ranging from second and third-ring suburbs to Rochester to rural German Catholic bastions in the conservative area west of St. Cloud. Meanwhile, the Republican Party’s shift to the hard-right seems to be alienating the old-liners in places like Edina and Shoreview. Even Tim Pawlenty’s hometown of Eagan voted for John Kerry. This may simply indicate dislike of George Bush in these areas, but that could easily come back to haunt statewide Republicans in the event of an anti-GOP tide. And given that Bush’s approval ratings in Minnesota have just registered at a 12-year-low for any sitting President, the framework for such a tide are definitely in place for 2006. Ultimately, the more the national Republican Party becomes the party of the Old Confederacy, the less appealing it will be to Minnesotans, even many of the exurbanites who currently represent a tremendous challenge to the future of the DFL.

    The current political alignment in Minnesota is very complex. Keep in mind there are many rural counties which went solidly for George Bush but can be expected to vote solidly DFL in the 2006 mid-terms barring an unforeseen Republican tide. As an example, John Kerry won Minnesota with only 24 of its 87 counties. On the other hand, Walter Mondale was defeated by Norm Coleman despite winning 35 counties…..while state office candidates Buck Humphrey and Carol Johnson lost their races despite winning 38 and 45 counties, respectively. Inflated GOP numbers in the suburbs following the Wellstone Memorial fiasco probably accounted for the victories of Coleman, Kiffmeyer and Awada that year, and are unlikely to be seen again. Furthermore, the fragmentation of liberals to the Green Party in Minneapolis and college towns probably resulted in the loss of two statewide office races in 2002 (Secretary of State and Auditor) for the DFL. If the Greens continue their alignment with the Democrats as they did in the 2004 Presidential race, that’s tens of thousands of more votes for Hatch and other DFL candidates.

    As I said earlier, Minnesota would probably be turning solid red right now if the Republican Party of Gerald Ford, Bob Dole and Howard Baker still existed. But since it’s become the party of Dick Cheney, Tom DeLay and Trent Lott, instead, I think the Democrats may continue to hold an advantage here in the next generation despite the fast-changing demographics.

  6. In general, people don’t vote on local races based on the national ticket. Bush’s popularity in the state doesn’t necessarily reflect on Pawlenty’s chances in ’06. Pawlenty’s own numbers have been steadily in the high 50’s, which is a good place for a governor to be. Hatch will give him a good run, but I don’t see Hatch winning any time soon.

    Pawlenty’s more likely to be a VP contender in 08, but lack of foreign policy experience isn’t as big a deal as one would think – of the last 50 years worth of Presidents, only Eisenhower and Bush 41 had a great deal of foreign policy experience before they came into office. (Eisenhower as a general in WWII, and Bush as head of the CIA.)

  7. “In general, people don’t vote on local races based on the national ticket.”

    Tell that to Brad Carson and Inez Tenenbaum…..or Ann Richards and Mario Cuomo….or Bob Dornan and James Rogan. If the voting public has a negative opinion of one of the political parties’ national platform, it usually affects the party on the rest of the ticket. If Pawlenty-friendly suburbanites in places like Edina and Shoreview are pissed off at George Bush and the national GOP on the first Tuesday of November in 2006, it wouldn’t be unheard of for them to take it out on Pawlenty and the state Republican party. I don’t expect this to be a huge phenomenon in the wealthy suburbs, but even a 5% decline in suburban support could cost Pawlenty his administration in a two-man race.

  8. First–Mark, that was a great analysis of Minnesota’s current political state. One point I would emphasize is that Minnesota is anti-Bush, not anti-Republican. The state is still trending red, especially if viewed in a historical context. For the suburbs, it’s spending/services, and for the rural areas it’s hard social issues (gay marriage, abortion). Demographic changes also play a significant role. Yes, Minnesota would be trending red faster if the national party was a Dole/Baker/Ford party. However, Minnesota Republicans have done a good job of strengthening national standing while also maintaining a moderate enough face to appeal to Minnesota voters. Pawlenty and Coleman are pros at being conservative enough to please the party while still maintaining a moderate air. Of course, Republicans are also helped by the fact that the MN DFL is often in chaos (I refer you all to the Mpls convention of last weekend).

    As for your commentary on Hatch–I don’t know if he’s popular enough in rural Minnesota to win votes over Pawlenty, particularly in a year when there is likely to be a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage on the ballot. Hatch will have a difficult time with that issue in rural Minnesota. Of course he is popular on the range–it’s one of the last strongholds of little guy, blue dog Democrats, and Hatch is a Democrat whose job it is, in part, as attorney general, to bust big guys who hurt the little guys. The DFL will not choose Kelley or Johnson (the latter of whom may not even run) over Hatch. I agree with Jay’s analysis of the gubernatorial race. Pawlenty’s numbers are solid, even if they’re lower than Carlson/early Ventura, but he’s also facing a much tougher situation than other governors have. Plus, Pawlenty is an excellent campaigner (I don’t know how Hatch is). Those factors will help him win in 2006.

    The DFL’s U.S. Senate choice is more dubious. If they end up going with Amy Klobuchar, who seems to have much party support and momentum at the moment, you can all say hello to Sen. Kennedy.

  9. Kate, I don’t believe gay marriage will be a decisive issue in Minnesota, much as the Republicans try to make it one. If the DFL is hapless enough to permit the issue to be put on the ballot, voters would certainly approve a ban, but at the same time Minnesota isn’t West Virginia. Many low-income voters may vote against their self-interest based on the abortion issue, but I have yet to notice the same degree of energy about gay marriage even among social conservatives. Only time will tell. If Mike Hatch runs as horrendous of a campaign as Roger Moe did, Pawlenty will cakewalk across the finish line with or without the gay marriage fig leaf.

    I disagree with your assessment of the Klobuchar-Kennedy race. Kennedy may have a distinct advantage in 70% of the state geographically, but Klobuchar, while I don’t know much about her, is a popular centrist who calls Hennepin County home. Assuming it’s a two-candidate race, I expect Klobuchar to take Hennepin County by more than 60% if her campaign is the least bit credible. Mathematically, Kennedy is already defeated if Klobuchar beats him 3-2 in Hennepin County.

  10. Mark–You underestimate the gay marriage issue. Look at its effect on a state-level in the 2004 presidential race. It WILL be on the ballot because the House will vote to put it there and the Senate has enough stray Democrats from socially conservative districts that they cannot stop it. Sen. Bachmann will not let the issue die in the chamber either, so in terms of process, there are no real obstacles to its being an issue in the election. Minnesotans are not as active in banning gay marriage as they are in protecting unborn children–it’s a character thing. One is proactively protecting an innocent; the other seems more proactively cruel. However, once the issue is on the ballot, you will see a huge activist streak come out of Mpls/St. Paul which will put off more traditional rural and perhaps even some suburban voters. The issue itself will not win the election, but coupled with another issue or two, chosen to attract outer ring suburb voters, it could swing the election by undermining rural Democratic areas.

    Second, my assessment of Klobuchar is accurate. Read her statements over the past two months. Certainly, she is trying to win an endorsement, but those remarks will haunt her in the general election. Also, your statistical analysis of Hennepin County is based on population and not voters. Even if 60 percent of people who vote in the area go for Klobuchar, it is not the statistical advantage you claim it to be. Democrats traditionally win most of Hennepin County, and we have a Republican US Senator, a Republican Governor and Lieutenant Governor, a Republican State Auditor and a Republican Secretary of State. If your analysis were correct, Democrats would only need to find Hennepin County popularity contest winners to rule the state’s politics. Bottomline: while it may be a tight race, Kennedy will still pull it out if the DFL runs Klobuchar. She does not have statewide appeal, or much personal appeal for that matter.

  11. Kate, you might be right about gay marriage, but even among the social conservatives I know in this state, few care about gay marriage beyond shaking their head at the sight on footage from Provincetown and San Francisco. I’m sure the GOP will try everything they can to divert the discussion away from their agenda of further LGA cuts and underfunding MinnesotaCare at a time when the ranks of the uninsured will be exploding, but I’m not convinced that DFL voters in Thief River Falls and Albert Lea will decide they hate gay marriage more than they love their Minnesota quality of life. It certainly could happen if Hatch doesn’t have a plan on how to deflect Pawlenty and Bachmann’s gay marriage baiting, but my humble expectation is that it that it won’t swing too many voters to Republicans even if it’s on the ballot. As I said, only time will tell. I could certainly be wrong.

    I haven’t heard any of these comments Klobuchar has made for the DFL endorsement that you expect will be so damning, but I stand my projection that Hennepin County will be a vote-rich pinata that will send native son Ms. Klobuchar to Washington. Republicans won those four races in 2002 based on inflated suburban numbers that aren’t likely to be repeated unless there’s another Wellstone Memorial-esque sideshow a week before the election. Even in Hennepin County, swing suburbs like Minnetonka and Bloomington went far redder than usual in 2002, a scenario far less likely with the popular Hennepin County Attorney on the ballot. Bear in mind, Walter Mondale won Hennepin County by less than 53% (again, weak performance in swing suburbs). Roger Moe won the county by only 3,000 votes because of the three-candidate race. And in the Secretary of State and Auditor races, more than 20% of the Hennepin County vote went for the Green and Independence Parties, diluting the DFL’s margins to within a few thousand votes. I’m not expecting that 20% of the Hennepin County vote will go the Greens and Independents in 2006 and thus hand the GOP two of the three statewide offices.

    You’re right that turnout will be key, but I’m sensing a heightened interest in politics that is likely to be long-term due to the polarization here in Minnesota and nationwide. Norm Coleman won Minnesota by two percentage points, even when he took 46% in Hennepin County and 57% or better in suburban counties like Anoka, Dakota and Washington which rarely go that Republican. With that in mind, my math is almost assuredly correct. 60% for Klobuchar in Minnesota would ensure her statewide victory. (John Kerry got 59.3% in Hennepin I believe).

    Lastly, Klobuchar is a native Iron Ranger, and her father is a popular newspaper man from the area. This should definitely perk up her numbers throughout blue-collar northeastern Minnesota, whom I can’t see embracing the Carver County yuppie hyping unpopular private retirement accounts and more budget-busting tax cuts for wealthy people who live far from the Iron Range. The Dems have an awesome quote to use against Kennedy in the campaign. When he visited Iraq in late 2003, he guessed that within a year, Minnesotans would be able to take their families on vacation in the nation. This bit of partisan sugar-coating was so over-the-top that it should work as a strong reminder to anti-Bush swing voters how closely Kennedy is joined to the Connecticut Cowboy’s hip.

    Bottom line: Kennedy will do gangbusters in the exurbs and will most likely pull in Pawlenty-Coleman caliber numbers in Anoka and Washington Counties since he represents most of them in Congress. He’s also likely to be out metro-centric Klobuchar in farm country. Nonetheless, I can’t see the math working out statewide with Klobuchar’s huge advantages in Hennepin County and in the northeast. It should be an interesting race either way.

  12. Mark–I could also be wrong about the Klobuchar race–admittedly, I have not given it the statistical study you have. You make a good point on the Hennepin numbers, especially since Minnetonka and Bloomington tend to be strongholds for moderate Republicans who are increasingly uneasy about the direction of the state party. Klobuchar also has an excellent record on prosecuting gun crimes, which could prove important in cutting into Kennedy’s suburban appeal. As for Klobuchar’s native son appeal, yes, she does have it, but so does Kennedy (who hasn’t heard his grandmother Rose Kennedy speech?). Yet, if Klobuchar can negotiate her way through prickly social issues (especially abortion), she’ll pick up the range, which is a must for a DFLer anyway.

    One of the most important elements of this election, to me anyway, will be how state/local politics affects national politics in a polarized election. You mentioned LGA/MnCare cuts, both state issues, as being a potential effect on the race, and you’re right that they represent the idea Minnesota’s quality of life. It will be interesting to see if voters separate national level elections and those issues from state/local government trends. Anyway, thanks for the good information/numbers. I look forward to hearing your thoughts as the race(s) develops.

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