Saturday, December 16, 2006

Bayh Won't Run, Which Helps...Vilsack?

Senator Evan Bayh has decided to drop out of the 2008 presidential race and while the first conclusion most Democrats will draw is there will be less competition now for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, Tom Vilsack is the candidate who stands to gain some momentum from Bayh’s withdrawal.

Vilsack, Bayh and former Virginia Governor Mark Warner were the potential Democratic contenders who would have run as Centrists. Vilsack, like Bill Clinton was before him, chairs the centrist Democratic Leadership Council. When Warner decided not to run a few weeks ago, Bayh’s camp saw a huge opportunity to gain some of the support that would have gone Warner’s way. Now, with Bayh probably not getting the bounce he expected or more importantly not being able to see where he was going to raise the money necessary to compete with Hillary and Obama, Vilsack becomes the last man standing of these three.

The question now is whether Vilsack will be able to raise enough money to remain a viable contender. He is already a declared candidate and he looks to be committed to staying in the race through the end. Monday night he will be making a stop on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart which can’t help but raise his profile with the millions of voters who don’t have any idea who he is.

There’s another potential contender lurking in the background who has to be taking notice of Bayh’s withdrawal: Al Gore. Can Al Gore really stand by and see this race come down to a battle between Clinton and Obama? Will he be able to resist the calls to jump in? We may not know that answer until late, 2007.

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