I’m delighted to report that the growing conventional wisdom has former Senator John Edwards as the “ABC” (Anyone But Clinton) candidate for the 2008 Democratic Presidential nomination. Edwards, along with Gen. Wesley Clark, is one of my two favorite likely Democratic presidential candidates. Senator Clinton has already raised about $20 million for her campaign, and has a surrounded herself with experienced campaign staff, making her seem like the candidate to beat for the nomination.
Edwards is a huge beneficiary of changes to the Democratic party’s primary schedule, which has front-loaded caucuses in states where he should do well. But as far as I know, he’s lagged badly in the money-raising department ever since former Va. governor Warner and Sen. Feingold starting gaining traction. Although I like a lot (but not all) of what Feingold says, I don’t think he has a chance of winning a national election. Warner has nice demographics — but has yet to demonstrate that he stands for anything much. Certainly the people attracted to his campaign so far are in it on the “he can win” theory, not because of any issue they can point to. If the guy has taken an interesting stand on a controversial national issue (as opposed to local Virginia issues), I sure haven’t heard about it, nor has anyone I know.
By contrast, Edwards is just impressive — someone running a campaign of optimism rather than either cautious triangulation or fear and demonization.
The way these races usually work, the media gravitates to a narrative in which there’s a front runner, an insurgent, and the “others”. Clinton gets to be front-runner for now because she probably has raised more money than everyone else put together. Given that Edwards was being squeezed a little by the profusion of other candidates, getting noticed now as the likely/possible ABC candidate is on balance a good thing, although there’s an awful lot of time before the election, which creates the risk of a “he peaked too early” narrative developing in six, twelve or even eighteen months.