Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

PRESIDENTIAL RACE; Making New Rules

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

PRESIDENTIAL RACE; Making New Rules

Article excerpt

We live in historic times, at least when it comes to the presidential race.

For the first time, a female and an African-American have realistic chances of ascending to the presidency.

Yet, gender and race may be lower hurdles to the presidency than age and religion.

Polls have shown that many Americans have problems with Mitt Romney's Mormon religion and John McCain's age.

Ironically, when Romney's father, George, ran for president in the 1960s, his Mormon religion was not widely discussed.

As for McCain, there are legitimate concerns about whether he has the stamina to handle the rigors of the presidency, but the long campaign and his hike through the Grand Canyon last summer ought to resolve them.

Now that Romney has dropped out, McCain should win the nomination easily.

THE EXPERIENCE ISSUE

One issue being raised in the Democratic race is experience. Hillary Clinton says she is the most experienced candidate. Certainly, she is older than Barack Obama.

But by experience, does Clinton refer to her years as first lady? That would be a rarity, a candidate using the role of ex-spouse in the White House as a steppingstone to the presidency.

But Clinton also seems to be referring to what has been called a co-presidency, best dramatized by her failed national health plan.

The Wall Street Journal, among others, has called for the Clintons to quickly release their White House papers, since they legitimately bear on Hillary's experience as unofficial co-president.

Voters ought to be fully aware what Hillary the co-president was doing.

AGE IS A FACTOR

At 47, Barack Obama would be the fifth-youngest president ever. Only Theodore Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton and Ulysses S. Grant were younger when taking office.

John McCain, at 72, would be the oldest to first take office. That distinction goes to Ronald Reagan, who beat Jimmy Carter at age 69.

HURTING BY HELPING

Attention, Sen. Teddy Kennedy: Silence is golden.

Kennedy endorsed Obama before Super Tuesday. And a Rasmussen poll, The Washington Times reports, found 34 percent of Massachusetts Democrats were less likely to vote for him as a result of that endorsement. Only 30 percent were more likely.

John Kerry also endorsed Obama. But Hillary Clinton won the state by a wide margin.

If Obama wants to be the candidate of fresh ideas, he needs to distance himself from his party's most visible symbols of old ideas.

THE MONEY GAME

If money is an unsavory influence in politics, as some say, this year's campaign will be Exhibit A.

Obama raised a record (for someone who hasn't yet been nominated) $32 million in January alone, The Washington Post reports. Clinton raised $13.5 million.

McCain, boosted by his recent election successes, managed to get $7 million in just a few days. …

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