Sunday, January 21, 2007

And now Hillary

Hillary Rodham Clinton, US Senator from New York and wife of former US President Bill Clinton, has announced the formation of her Presidential Exploratory Committee as she begins her campaign for US President in 2008. If nominated by the Democratic Party and elected by American voters, she would be the first female President.

At the moment, Clinton’s main opponent for the nomination of the Democratic Party is Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, who this week announced the formation of his committee. Obama is seeking to become America’s first African-American president.

Exploratory committees are established early to line up campaign contributions and to hire the best staff—before either is grabbed by other campaigns. Once a person becomes an official candidate for president, they come under closer scrutiny of US election authorities.

Whoever is elected in 2008 will replace the current president, George Bush, who cannot run again. US Presidents became limited to two four-year terms after ratification of the 22nd Amendment to the US Constitution, which was proposed largely in response to the fact that Franklin D. Roosevelt had been elected to four terms (he died in office in his fourth term, making Harry S Truman president).

Clinton isn’t the first female candidate for a major party’s nomination, nor is Obama the first African American to seek a major party nomination. There are several other candidates seeking (or expected to seek) the Democratic Party nomination. They’ll be joined by New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who is seeking to become America’s first Hispanic president.

Meanwhile, radical conservative Senator Sam Redneck Brownback of Kansas has announced he’ll seek the Republican Party nomination for president. Senator Throwback Brownback is a rabid opponent of both abortion and gay marriage. He made sure to mention both in his announcement. He’s a favourite of extremist Christians who are suspicious of the sudden lurch to the right by both Senator John McCain of Arizona and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, both of whom once supported gay rights but who are now outspoken opponents. Also fighting for the Republican nomination will be former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is a supporter of abortion and gay rights.

Clinton faces a major challenge in her campaign: To many, especially on the far right, she’s a polarising figure who they would do anything to keep out of the White House. Many of these same people hated her husband just as much and spent most of his two terms looking for ways to get him out of office. Having failed in two elections, they impeached him for lying about a sexual affair, but even then they failed to remove him form office. That hatred, however, has never left them and they will be quick to organise against Hillary if she wins the Democratic nomination. It’s impossible to know if they’ll have any political strength left after the failure of the Bush presidency.

In any event, the 2008 campaign could get very interesting—and long, since the actual election isn’t until November 2008.I’m sure the various candidates will provide me with plenty to write about. Politicians always do.

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