There’s an astonishing gap between the stature of the three leading Republican presidential candidates and their three Democratic counterparts. Two of the three Republican candidates are national heroes. John McCain is a war hero. In addition, as a U.S. Senator he’s been at the forefront of nearly every major legislative battle for well over a decade. For better or worse, his footprints are all over our election laws, the judicial confirmation wars, and the war against terrorism, to cite three leading examples.
Rudy Giuliani is the man who turned New York City around. He then became a national hero on 9/11.
Mitt Romney is far from a national hero. But he ran the government of a substantial state for four years. His accomplishments during that time include, for better or worse, the instituting of an innovative plan to ensure all citizens of his state have health care. Before becoming governor, Romney was the key man at one of the foremost business consulting firms in the world. In addition, he dug the 2002 Winter Olympics out of a huge hole and, despite an initial cash shortfall, turned a profit.
What about the Dems? They feature John Edwards, a rich trial lawyer who served one term in the U.S. Senate. His accomplishments as a Senator were practically nil, though he did manage to cast a vote in favor of a war he now says he abhors. The Democratic field also includes the even less experienced Barack Obama, who has two years in the U.S. Senate, and whose great life story contains nothing else that ordinarily might be considered a credential for high office. Finally, though Hillary Clinton is not without stature, much of it comes by virtue of being the wife of Bill Clinton. Since the end of her husband’s term she’s been a diligent Senator. But unlike McCain who is courageous and tries to lead, Hillary is timid and tries to jockey.
Does the stature gap matter? Absolutely. It’s the main reason why, in a terrible environment for Republicans, Giuliani and McCain are running even or better against the Democratic contenders in the polls. The stature gap may not be enough to elect a Republican in 2008, but it’s the biggest plus the party has right now.
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