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In 2008, are voters looking for experience -- or a fresh face?

  • Story Highlights
  • Two candidates running for second time started strong, but are now lagging
  • Analysts wonder if voters want new and different or candidate with experience
  • Voters might want a mix of the new and the old
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From Bill Schneider
CNN Washington Bureau
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Campaign experience doesn't seem to be helping some 2008 presidential candidates this time around -- a possible sign that voters are looking for a brand-new face.

"Sen. Clinton seems to be experienced ... but is she a fresh enough face?" asks analyst Stu Rothenberg.

The two candidates who are running for the second time -- former Sen. John Edwards and Sen. John McCain -- started strong, but are now lagging in the polls and in fundraising.

That could mean voters are ready for someone new and different -- such as Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.

"The important thing is not experience, per se," Obama has said. "Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney had the best resumes in Washington, and initiated a fiasco in Iraq."

Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson might be another fresh face. "I think there is a disconnect right now between the people of this country and Washington like I have never seen before," Thompson has said.

But where does that leave former first lady and current New York Sen. Hillary Clinton?

"Obama is a fresh face, but is he experienced?" said political analyst Stu Rothenberg. "Sen. Clinton seems to be experienced, thoughtful and measured, but is she a fresh enough face?"

Previous campaign experience has helped candidates in other elections. Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and the first George Bush all ran for president two or three times before they were successful.

On the Republican side, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who led the city in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, would be a strong contender when it comes to experience, even though he has never run for president before.


This time, it appears voters might want a mix of the new and the old.

"What people are looking for is an experienced person, but one who's also an outsider," said Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report. "And that is a very difficult combination to come up with." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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