Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Another Sleeper in a Georgia Governor?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Another Sleeper in a Georgia Governor?

Article excerpt

There's a successful governor in Georgia who just might be the best candidate the Democrats could run for president in '04. He is Roy Barnes, of whom Jimmy Carter's brilliant campaign strategist, Hamilton Jordan, said to me the other day: "I'd put Barnes up against any governor in the country." Mr. Jordan added, "Jimmy Carter gives Barnes high marks for governorship."

No, Mr. Barnes isn't talking about making a presidential run. His focus now is in a race to succeed himself as governor - where he seems likely to win but where he certainly wouldn't help himself by indicating he had any thought of not finishing out his four years.

Another key political figure from the Carter years - who talked only on "background" - pointed out the advantageous position Barnes would be in if he decided to seek the presidency: "The only Democratic presidents who have been in the White House since Kennedy are from the South - and two have been governors." And he added: "It would be unnatural if you are a Southern governor and not thinking of running for president."

I do not know Governor Barnes. He may somehow be "unnatural" and not giving a try for the presidency the slightest thought. Jordan says he sees Barnes frequently and has never heard him talk national politics. He says Barnes does often speak of how he loves being governor - where an overwhelming number of his initiatives have passed.

Still ... the lure to run for the top national spot might become irresistible for this highly personable fellow - this time or next time around.

Why tout Barnes? Well, it certainly isn't anything personal. It's just that after reading about a study of the presidency that pointed out that in all of US history only two senators - Harding and Kennedy - had been able to make it straight from the Senate to the White House - it got me thinking.

The current field of likely candidates is weighted down with senators: Joseph Lieberman, John Kerry, John Edwards, and Tom Daschle are not hiding their aspirations. …

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