Presidential race already claiming victims

One would-be 2004 Bush challenger bites the dust. Plus: The GOP leadership begins its search for a replacement to Sen. Jesse Helms.

By Anthony York

Published June 15, 2001 5:41PM (EDT)

Big buzz

From our "Don't cry for me, Indiana" department, the 2004 presidential race has claimed its first casualty -- Sen. Evan Bayh. The Democratic senator (often cited as an Al Gore clone) removed his name from contention at a press conference Friday, citing family concerns.

The hankies were out at "He's an ass, and his father was worse. My recollection is that he is up in 2004 and knows his re-election will be tough against a Bush re-election head wind in Indiana," writes one poster. "Bayh got his comuppance last night on C-Span ... during his remarks on the education bill C-Span got his name wrong and labeled him as U.S. Senator John Edwards of NC."

For the record, and for all who were wondering, a poster using the handle "knotbitter" chimes in with this: "I would like it to be known that I have still not decided one way or another as to whether to seek the presidency in 2004. Thank you."

"It looks like the door is open for Al Sharpton," writes another.

While liberal bulletin boards from Table Talk to Plastic to Democratic Underground are all silent on Bayh, the Free Republic posters say Bayh never had a chance.

"Yeah, and I probably wont try out for the Olypmic shotputting squad either," writes one poster. "Too hard on the wife and kids. But other than that, I coulda been a contender. Probably the first 180 lb shotputting champion in history, but the wife and kids come first."

Anger management

Sen. Elizabeth Dole? That's the scuttlebutt in Friday's Washington Post as Republicans go searching for a successor to North Carolina political institution Jesse Helms.

"As Republicans anxiously await Sen. Jesse Helms' decision on whether to seek reelection next year, they're quietly checking on the availability of other possible contenders -- including Elizabeth Dole -- in case Helms opts to retire," the Post reports. "Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, recently inquired about Dole's interest, a top GOP official confirmed today. The conversation was first reported in Roll Call. Dole grew up in Salisbury, N.C., and attended Duke University, in Durham. While she has kept some of her Tar Heel ties, she has lived in Washington for many years.

The Freepers were less than impressed, posting the story with one of their trademark Barf Alerts. "I love Sen. Helms, but I think he has decided to retire," writes one poster. "They can surely do better than E. Dole in N.C. They just have not looked hard enough. Jesse for Liddy? No thanks. Anyone from NC that can introduce a viable alternative? Please?"

"I am hoping that this is just inside beltway politeness, but I do not think so. These guys in the 'party leadership' are idiots if they think DC connections and name ID equals election," writes another. "Reminds me of the NH Senate race. All some enterprising conservative Dem researcher from NC would have to do would be search FreeRepublic threads from 1999 and he would have a good start on how to trash her. Hey, I'm a conservative GOPer and I would love the chance to trash her."

But folks over at seemed less concerned. "If it's from the Washington Post, you can bet the story is someone's bogus fantasy."

For more Red vs. Blue, click here.

Submit your own rant or direct us to a good political online discussion by e-mailing us at, or jump right into a Table Talk discussion about Red vs. Blue.

Anthony York

Anthony York is Salon's Washington correspondent.

MORE FROM Anthony York

Related Topics ------------------------------------------