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One for the ladies

The war on terror, oil prices, political scandals, the ’06 elections and unforeseen natural disasters will all have an effect on who runs for president in November ’08. But as philosopher/cartoonist Ashleigh Brilliant wrote, “I’ve abandoned my search for truth and am now looking for a good fantasy.” So here’s one flight of the imagination about what could be the most interesting American presidential race ever.Although undeclared, I believe Hillary Rodham Clinton is positioning herself for a run at the presidency. Opposing her could be John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, George Allen or Bill Frist. But the only potential candidate with enough pizzazz to stir an entire nation and create a marquee match-up against Hillary is Condoleezza Rice.Can you imagine, for the first time in our 232-year history, two women vying for the highest office in the land? The campaigns would be epic, as would the social awareness, tension and debate it would ignite.On the left, we would have Hillary who has been assiduously repositioning herself toward the center. On the right, we would have Condoleezza, appealing to the very heart of the Democratic Party’s constituency- women and minorities. So let’s speculate a bit. Love her or hate her, Hillary is a formidable force in American politics. But she’s also very polarizing, and the 527s would have a field day attacking her just as the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth did with John Kerry in ’04. Even with her carefully choreographed image, past controversies (Travelgate, her commodity futures windfall, the disappearance of her law firm’s billing records, her brothers’ dealings with men who received presidential pardons when she and Bill left the White House, etc.) will follow Hillary on the campaign trail, making it unlikely she will escape the 527 onslaught unscathed.Nevertheless, if Hillary runs against a Republican male, it’s a good bet that she will win regardless of how effective the 527s are against her. Here are three reasons why. N Statistically women are more likely to vote than men (54 percent to 46 percent). If Hillary runs, the female turnout would likely be even higher. Score one for Hillary. N The Hispanic vote was 6 percent of the national total in 2000, 8 percent in 2004, and could be as high as 10 percent in 2008. Predicated on the fact that Hillary carried three-fourths of the Hispanic vote in her 2000 Senate race, it’s a reasonable assumption that she would have another strong showing within that demographic. Score another for Hillary.N African-Americans represent about 12 percent of the national vote, but that percentage would likely increase by 15 percent if Hillary runs. Now, assuming the black community continues to vote 5 to 1 Democratic as they have since the ”60s, by adding in the Hispanic vote, Hillary could conceivably capture 80 percent of the minority vote, or roughly 19 percent of the national total before her campaign even began!But Condi changes that dynamic. Minorities regardless of gender are the Democrats’ strongest voting bloc. But a female African-American candidate would significantly alter their voting patterns.Historically white men vote overwhelmingly Republican, so it’s unlikely Hillary would elicit mass defections of white male voters from the Republican base. But Condi would make significant inroads into the Democratic constituency of women, Hispanics and blacks.Hillary has been center stage since her husband’s election in 1992, but Condi’s presence is growing larger in the consciousness of Americans as she continues to establish herself as the world’s preeminent diplomat, especially now that we’re engaged in the most complex war in history.Condi has never been married. She’s the great-great granddaughter of slaves, Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Denver, holds a master’s degree from Notre Dame, and a doctorate in foreign affairs, also from the University of Denver. Condi was a Stanford University faculty member while still in her 20s and was 34 when she became the Bush I administration’s chief expert on the Soviet Union, charged with the delicate process of guiding our diplomatic efforts through Germany’s reunification process.Alacrity in navigating the political minefields that lay in front of all presidential candidates may be Hillary’s strongest suit. Meanwhile Condi will draw upon her know-how as past provost of Stanford University, presidential adviser, national security adviser and now secretary of state. Condi’s foreign affairs expertise will be showcased, but Hillary could make up for her lack of international experience by obliquely referencing the “two-for-one” notion that Bill Clinton first used in 1992.Think of the enormous impact a female African-American running for, and possibly winning, the American presidency would have on the social fabric of the nation. Just 140 years ago blacks were still in chains. As recently as the 1920s, women were not allowed to vote. A black female candidate would send affirmative social signals of seismic proportions to minorities and the disadvantaged throughout the land, not to mention the awe-inspiring image it would present to the world.Over the next few years Hillary will visit Iowa, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio and the other battleground states while Condi meets with the heads of state around the world to confer about different types of battles.Two women, two distinctive backgrounds and two divergent points of view. Stay tuned.Butch Mazzuca, a local Realtor and ski instructor, writes a weekly column for the Daily. He can be reached at bmazz68@earthlink.net


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