Monday, January 14, 2008
The GOP's 180, and the Democrats' dangerous game






David Gergen

Senior Political Analyst


Someone said last week that people expect campaigns to be filled with straight runways but this one is all hairpin curves. That sure seems right.

I just spoke here in Florida to a group of heavy hitters who are supporting a program called Gentlemen Against Domestic Violence -- a very fine effort. The session was in Naples, one of the most affluent parts of the state where Rudy Giuliani has reportedly raised lots of money.

To my surprise, when I asked for a show of hands, support for Rudy was tepid at best. The room was much more evenly divided between McCain and Romney supporters -- with the sentiment seemingly running toward McCain as the best candidate for the fall. (By the way, they also like their governor, Charlie Crist, as a potential running mate; and they asked about Lieberman and Bloomberg as potential veeps, too). Who would have thunk that after all this effort, Rudy would be starting to drop in a place like Naples? Or that McCain has once again recaptured imaginations?

Meanwhile, I am suprised as well that the Democrats are heading off into treacherous waters over issues of race. Whatever one thinks about the merits of the dispute -- and I do think that Hillary & Co. started it -- the Democrats can ill afford racial divisions.

A friend and top political thinker has argued to me for some years that in New York City politics, the Democrats have a recent pattern of having a strong black and a strong white in their primary fight, that the white candidate often wins but only after a bruising fight that alienates many blacks and then in the general election, lots of blacks sit on their hands -- and a Republican wins. (Or sometimes it can be a Latino vs. an Anglo with similar dangers.)

I am not in a position at the moment to verify every detail but the theory sounds to me exactly right -- and illustrates that the Clinton and Obama campaigns need to bring out a peace pipe soon!
Posted By CNN: 3:55 PM ET
  5 Comments
David,

I think I'm going to respectfully disagree with you on this one. Race and gender prejudice still exist in this country and nothing is going to change if people don't discuss it openly. But the discussion needs to be polite and well, gentle.

In my personal opinion, fear of strong women is rampant in this country among both males and females. I hate to see the Democratic party at odds with itself. But keeping silent is not the answer.
Posted By Blogger Barbara in Culver City, CA : 5:00 PM ET
David,
While I think that Hillary's statement was taking the wrong way and not how she meant it...I agree whole heartedly I think she and Obama need to kiss, make up ,and move on before it gets REALLY ugly. I don't think either of them can afford for that to happen.

Cynthia, Covington, Ga.
Posted By Blogger Cindy : 5:11 PM ET
David,

The first mention of race being an issue I heard was on the NH primary night when everyone was discussing how the polls could have been so wrong. From there it has gone downhill - I have observed that if someone suggests the race issue or gender issue then it pretty soon becomes an issue.

I believe more is being read into what was said by the Clinton's than what was actually there - each according to his or her own biases. With all the African American mayors, city councilmen, governors, senators, and congressmen we now have I don't see race being an issue. Same goes for women for the most part although I have to agree with another blogger that a strong intelligent woman seems to intimidate some. And Hilliary is definitely both.

I think we need to get back to the real issues rather than point fingers and get hysterical about something that isn't there. Its not racist or anti feminist to want to know their record in government or their stand on the issues now and how they plan to implement them. If the candidates or the political pundits think there are then we really do need a change in both.

Annie Kate
Birmingham AL
Posted By Blogger Annie Kate : 5:37 PM ET
David/AC360:
I know this may sound arrogant on my part but New York City is not the rest of the country.

If Rudy Giuliani feels he can campaign like a New York City local campaign, he may find it won't work for the rest of the country.

His inability to canvas the country during the caucuses/primaries is one indication of his inability to assimilate outside of the New York City political spectrum.
Posted By Blogger Sharon from Indy : 7:01 PM ET
I believe it's far better to get these issues among Democrats out in the open during the primary season and work through them before a candidate is chosen. Because you know the eventual Republican nominee will bring these divisive issues up in the general election. In the past few elections, Republicans used gay marriage to scare voters. This time, they will have a choice between gay marriage, race and gender to exploit Democratic unity.
Posted By Anonymous Joseph Kowalski, North Huntingdon, PA : 7:34 PM ET
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