John Kerry in 2008?

U.S. News says that he's running. What about Hillary?

Published May 4, 2005 1:16PM (EDT)

Will John Kerry run in 2008? U.S. News and World Report says the answer is yes. "Kerry has added names to his E-mail list of 3 million, kept alive and kicking, raised boatloads of cash for friendly Democrats, and moved to seize control of hot-button issues like kids' healthcare, the environment, and support for military families," the magazine says. A Kerry friend tells U.S. News that Kerry's family wants him to take another shot at the White House, and the magazine says flatly: "He's running."

It doesn't make a lot of sense if you think of the 2004 election as a once-in-a-generation political shift, as a good old fashioned butt-whipping or as a race that seemed for a moment to be Kerry's to lose. But inside John Kerry's head, the logic for a second run may well be there. If you accept the vote count from Kenneth Blackwell, Kerry lost Ohio -- and with it, the election -- by just 118,000 votes. He lost to a sitting president in a time of war; the war may still be going on next time around, but -- so long as Dick Cheney and Condi Rice don't run -- the Republicans won't have that "don't change horses in the middle of the race" argument anymore. And with any luck, Osama bin Laden won't drop a bombshell -- figuratively or literally -- a few days before Nov. 4, 2008. Kerry has said the release of a videotape from bin Laden four days before the 2004 vote stopped his momentum in the polls and underscored Americans' concerns about changing commanders in chief in the midst of a war.

That doesn't mean that Kerry could win in 2008, even if his people are beginning to talk him up on "electability" grounds already. The Massachusetts senator would have to win the Democratic nomination first, and a senator from New York -- among others -- may stand in his way. But U.S. News says that Democratic donors and labor leaders are telling everyone who will listen that Hillary Clinton doesn't have a chance in 2008 -- and not all of them are doing it behind the scenes. Pollster John Zogby, who called the 2004 race for Kerry, sees it differently. He tells U.S. News that Clinton's move to the middle on issues on abortion may have voters thinking again about Hillary. "She can take the 'somewhat unfavorables,'" he says, "and turn them into 'somewhat favorables.'"

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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Hillary Rodham Clinton John F. Kerry D-mass.