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2008: Evan says "buh-Bayh!" while Newt bides time

With over $10 million in the bank, some people couldn't resist the temptation to run for President. I recall that Sen. Phil Gramm had collected over $20 million in 1995 - an unprecedented amount for the time - but didn't even last until New Hampshire. Indiana Senator Evan Bayh has apparently faced reality, however, and announced he will NOT seek the 2008 Democratic nomination, according to KCCI.com of Des Moines:

Bayh, a Democrat, had been spending considerable time and money exploring his chances in Iowa. He said he determined that his chances of winning weren't good enough to continue with his campaign.

"At the end of the day, I concluded that due to circumstances beyond our control the odds were longer than I felt I could responsibly pursue," Bayh said in a statement Saturday morning. "This path -- and these long odds -- would have required me to be essentially absent from the Senate for the next year instead of working to help the people of my state and the nation."

Read the rest at the link above. Funny, isn't it, how Senators always announce their concern with doing their jobs once they decide NOT to run for President? When I saw a friend from North Carolina in Richmond the other day, he mentioned John Edwards, who spent 5 years of his 6-year Senate term running for President instead of attending Senate votes. Upon reflection, it could have been worse: Edwards might have showed up for the votes.

On the Republican side, Newt is lying in wait and will defer his decision, as Josh Gerstein of the New York Sun reports:

A former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, said yesterday that he will consider entering the race for the Republican presidential nomination only if no other potential candidate looks to be a prohibitive favorite by September 2007.

In an interview on NBC's "Meet The Press," Mr. Gingrich also praised several Republican politicians who are expected to make announcements soon about their presidential plans, Governor Romney of Massachusetts, Mayor Giuliani, and Senator McCain of Arizona.

"Romney's had a good year. He's emerging as a serious player. Giuliani is wildly popular for national security reasons. John McCain has built a base for years of hard work. If one them seals it off by Labor Day, my announcing now wouldn't make any difference anyway," Mr. Gingrich said. "If none of the three having from now to Labor Day can seal it off, the first real vote is in 2008. And there's plenty of time in the age of television and e-mail between Labor Day and 2008."

Read the whole article at the preceding link. Hat tip to Captain's Quarters for pointing to this story. Cap'n Ed observes:

Gingrich is nothing if not clever. He knows that the field has already gotten crowded, and some question whether anyone else could find the financial backing to challenge the three frontrunners. In that environment, Gingrich figures that he can keep his powder dry until he really needs it. Labor Day 2007 would have been the traditional launch period of presidential campaigns anyway, and it leaves him plenty of time to rally his faithful.

The strategy still has its risks. Big-ticket donors are already feeling the pressure to get behind a specific candidate. Potential staffers may decide to sign onto other campaigns, leaving Gingrich with fewer and less influential choices by September 2007. The same could be said for voters as well, although thankfully voters don't commit until the primaries. Still, he's leaving the field open for someone to take control of the race and roll into the winter with commanding momentum.

Read his whole post at the link above. While the strategy is "risky," Gingrich certainly has little to lose. He would be a minor figure among those heavyweights at this point, and the inevitable avalanche of polling over the next nine months or so could bury him in single digits, destroying whatever viability his candidacy might hold.

On the other hand, if any of the Big Three drop out or are hit by scandal, there could be a gaping hole in the field by Labor Day 2007 which Gingrich could seek to fill. The donations and consultants he will miss are irrelevant: most of the early donations just go to pay the consultants anyway, and those donors and advisers who have signed on with a rival who drops out would become available. Besides, it isn't as if Gingrich had much chance of attracting major money or campaign help at this stage, is it?

This way, he remains a political analyst and keeps his face and message before the public without having to buy advertising. If an opportunity opens, he has his name on the list of those ready to take advantage; in the meantime, he keeps the day job.

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