The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza is up with his "Friday Line," a regular feature in which he lists the five Democrats and five Republicans he thinks are most likely to wind up as their parties' presidential nominees for 2008. For the first time, this time Cillizza is putting Al Gore and Newt Gingrich on the list.
Why add Gore now? "Because," Cillizza says, "when we talk to strategists for every other candidate considering the race, one of the first questions they ask is: 'What do you hear about Gore?' Talk to former aides and allies of the vice president and you get totally divergent responses. Some believe he will only run if drafted into the race in its latter stages; others are convinced that if Hillary Clinton looks like a winner, Gore will run in order to keep the party from moving more towards the ideological middle."
Well, that, and he might want the Democrats to run someone who has a chance of winning in 2008. Gore may be a polarizing figure in his own right, but we've yet to hear any Democrat anywhere lay out a persuasive theory for how Clinton could become the next president. The right writes her off as the extreme liberal she isn't, and her equivocation on Iraq -- we shouldn't stay, we shouldn't go -- isn't winning her any support on the left. Clinton may be the "odds-on frontrunner," as Cillizza says; we just don't know who's going to vote for her.
As for Gingrich, Cillizza says he'd bring name recognition, "a great speech" and a lot of ideas to the campaign if he decides to get in the race Cillizza thinks he will but that his two divorces "might not sit well with some conservative Republican voters." On the Republican side for now, John McCain seems to be the man to watch. Cillizza's theory: "If Republicans suffer major losses at the House and Senate level (in 2006), it will open a lot of doors for McCain among folks who believe he is their best -- and only -- chance to hold the White House in 2008."