Damn. First Former Va. Gov. Mark Warner; Now Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh Rules Out White House Bid In 2008.
Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) announced today that he will forgo a run for president in 2008, citing the "long odds" he would face as a candidate who is not well-known nationally.
The main reason for Bayh's decision was a belief that his chances of winning the Democratic nomination in a field likely to include such political heavyweights as Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Barack Obama (Ill.) were not high enough to justify the commitment of time and manpower over the next two years.
Bayh is the second serious Democrat to pass on a presidential bid in recent months. Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner shocked the political world earlier this fall when he announced he would not be a candidate for president in 2008. [See 10-12-06 post entitled "(1) Shucks!! Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner Won't Run for Presidency in '08 & (2) What a difference one and 1/2 years can make in Georgia."]
The following is part of a 3-13-06 post about Sen. Bayh's recent visit to Georgia to address the annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner:
No other Democrat looking at the 2008 presidential campaign can make the boast that Evan Bayh can: He has won five elections in a heavily Republican state by ever-increasing margins of victory.
Bayh was elected to one term as secretary of state of Indiana and two terms as governor and is in his second term in the U.S. Senate. He won re-election in 2004 by a margin of 24 percentage points, even as President Bush was carrying Indiana by an even heftier margin.
"Same day, same voters," Bayh said in an interview in his Senate office late last week to discuss his upcoming speech at the Georgia Democratic Party's annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner. "And if we take the same approach, we can win in Georgia, just like we've won in Indiana."
It isn't a revolutionary approach. According to Bayh, all it takes is holding the Democratic base and reaching out to independent voters and to what he describes as "reasonable Republicans" who recognize that "we're all in this together, and we need to make progress."
The biggest problem for Democrats, though, is Democrats themselves, Bayh said.
"Some people vote against the Democratic Party because of the substantive positions we take," he said. "But I think there's a fair number of people who vote against our candidates because of how they perceive the way we express what it is we believe. There's a sense that we're a little condescending, a little elitist. And folks will never vote for you if they think you're looking down your nose at them.
"Especially in the South — "and in the Midwest," Bayh added.
Cultural issues such as abortion will remain as divisive as ever, he said, but they don't have to be as explosive as they are now. He noted, for example, that in his last election, he got the support of 45 percent of anti-abortion evangelicals because "I treat people with respect," especially when there is disagreement.
Still, acknowledging differences and seeking common ground with opponents can take Democrats only so far, Bayh conceded. They still have to overcome a big hurdle with voters, one that has plagued them for decades: the sense that they are not as capable or as vigilant as Republicans in matters of national security.
"Being tough and being smart on national security, that's clearly a threshold issue with us," Bayh said. "People need to know they can trust Democrats with their lives. If people don't trust us with their lives, they're unlikely to trust us with anything else."
The next presidential nominee of the Democratic Party is going to have to approach the issue head on, he said. And that nominee is going to have to convince voters of three things: "We know it's a dangerous world, the current administration has done much to undermine our national security, we can do better."