I happened to see Dennis Kucinich on Letterman's show last night, and I thought it was about time I weighed in on the Presidential primaries, especially since Illinois moved its primary up and my opinion will actually matter. Incidentally, it was not what you would call a "hard hitting" interview, though it doesn't really matter; Dennis Kucinich is not a realistic primary candidate.
John Edwards has caused too many problems for himself so far to be a contender, as far as I can tell. It's hard to take his poverty-focused campaigning seriously when he boasts $400 haircuts, but more so because a lot of the ideas he campaigns on have already been tried and found wanting. His incidental problems can't be denied either; though people won't vote against him because his wife has cancer, it will certainly affect his overall performance.
Barack Obama hasn't done enough yet to distinguish himself from the other candidates. He still has that "generic Democratic politician" air about him, despite his general popularity in the media and overall charm. It just doesn't seem to me that he's done a very good job of answering the question, "Why should we vote for you instead of Clinton or Edwards?"
I don't take his lack of national political experience to be a bad thing. I favor term limits for politicians, so inexperience is no big deal to me.
Hilary Clinton, despite her very strong negatives, strikes me as being the "inevitable" candidates amongst the Democrats. Love her or hate her, she's well established and has the connections, and money, to pull it off. However, I don't think she can win in November '08. While she might be able to pull the majority votes in the Democratic primaries, I think she'll spur the conservative movement enough, and alienate the center, to disqualify herself.
The only wildcard in this race would be Father Gore descending from the heavens on a cloud of greenhouse gases to throw his name in the hat, but it seems unlikely at this point. He seems to have too much going for him in the private sector to risk it all in politics again.
I'm sure I've said it here before, though I can't find the post(s), but John McCain will never be the Republican candidate. He has never acted in a way that conservative voters could say, "This is a man who has our best interests in mind." Though McCain votes mostly conservative, his behavior indicates that his chief constituency is the media, and his major interest himself. The BCRA was a joke, causing more problems that it solved, and riling up conservative bloggers. His "gang of 14" deal left a lot of conservatives with a bad taste in their mouths, considering how he threw so many judicial nominees to the wolves. His latest blunder, the "comprehensive immigration reform," will probably be the nail in his Presidential coffin.
Mitt Romney hasn't struck me poorly so far, but I'm not sure he'll sway the voters. I'm not sure he'll be able to shake the "flip-flopper" accusation that haunted John Kerry. It seems to come off as, "I'll tell the primary voters exactly what they want to hear." Is this a politician bowing to the will of his constituency, or a man say what he has to, they "growing in office?" It's hard to say, but I don't think a lot of people will be convinced.
Rudy Giuliani seems to be the most likely Republican candidate so far, though I'm not sure I'd vote for him in the primaries. His stance on abortion makes him unpalatable, but if it's him or Clinton, I will certainly vote for him.
The wildcard for the Republicans? Fred Thompson. He hasn't even declared or raised money and he's doing very well in polls. This isn't surprising, considering how he's been positioning himself as an ideological candidate, writing articles and giving speeches that make conservative hearts swoon. If/when he does actually commit to running, I think he stands a very good shot at being the Republican candidate. He'll be a fresh face in a Presidential race that's already getting old (and with so much yet to go!), and I think he'll appeal to a lot of voters, both conservative and otherwise.
It would be silly of me to make my first mention of the primary candidates and not specifically mention Jim Geraghty's blog (now The Campaign Spot). I've found no other blogger who has his fingers as firmly on the pulse of the race, in both parties, as this man. Seriously worth your time if you're interested in following the Presidential race.