Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

There's a Time and Place for Everything, but What the Heck

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

There's a Time and Place for Everything, but What the Heck

Article excerpt

IT'S WAY TOO early to be able to speculate with any degree of authority on the 1996 presidential race - so let's get started.

Gen. Colin Powell is the current hot property on the campaign circuit, though he still hasn't decided whether he'll run, and, if so, whether it will be as an independent or a Republican. While Powell is certainly benefiting from media hype, he's also the subject of genuine public fascination. Voters in some recent polls have put him ahead of President Bill Clinton in a hypothetical contest.

Outside of his military career, Powell is largely unknown and untested, especially in the political arena - one of his attractions for many disenchanted voters who are longing for a sensible, take-charge guy to fix things for them. We last observed this phenomenon in 1992, when Ross Perot stimulated the voters' imagination briefly.

Powell is also fascinating because of the human dilemma posed by his choice. He knows he is popular, and at this point would seem to have a reasonable chance of winning, especially in a head-on race with Clinton. The presidency is clearly a job he would like to have.

But entering the campaign would subject Powell and his family to scrutiny and criticism to which he is unaccustomed and with which he will surely be uncomfortable. As a black American, he will be under added pressure. He'll have to raise a lot of money quickly, and his popularity and reputation have nowhere to go but down. All for what now looks like at best a 50-50 chance at being the world's pre-eminent leader.

Will he do it? Would you?

A lot of people are urging Powell to run, and some of them even want him to win.

He may be the best bet for moderate Republicans, whose current candidates haven't yet caught fire. Some conservatives, worried about the candidacy of front-runner Bob Dole, like Powell's chances of beating Clinton, as well as the appearance of diversity he can lend to the party.

Some Democrats want Powell to run as an independent because they think he would take votes from the Republican candidate. Others might savor the prospect of the popular general seeking and losing the GOP nomination, thus accentuating the grip that the right wing has on the party. …

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