Friday, August 03, 2007

Clinton, Perhaps Giuliani, Seen As Most Likely

Written from Klamath, Calif.--

The dinner table of 10 eclectic guests from the around the country, all interested in politics, rang with a discussion of the presidential race on Thursday night, and the conclusions seemed to be that Sen. Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee next year, and that, despite handicaps, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani may win the Republican nomination.

Some gathered at the historic ReQua Inn in the heart of the Redwood country felt Giuliani would be the favorite in a tight Clinton-Giuliani race.

On the Democratic side, only Clinton, Sen. Barack Obama and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, and Sen. Joe Biden got substantial mentions in the conversation, about in that order. Richardson was mentioned because some regarded him as a likely Clinton running mate.

On the Republican side, Giuliani and former Sen. Fred Thompson got the most mentions, with former Gov. Mitt Romney running third.

Neither Sen. John McCain nor former Sen. John Edwards were considered major factors at this point.

It was clear from the conversation that there are many doubts about Clinton's viability in a final contest. A 35-year-old Democrat from Newport Beach, but formerly resident in New York and France, thought Clinton "too stiff, too brittle," and said that since she had seen Giuliani operate as mayor in New York, she might lean toward him.

Across the table, a woman from the Midwest said she felt Clinton lacked character.

But, upon some discussion, she acknowledged Clinton was well organized, well known and might even carry more conviction on certain issues than her husband, former President Bill Clinton. A man chimed in that Clinton had to be "tough as nails" to even be running. He compared her to Margaret Thatcher.

On the Republican side, there was some doubt Giuliani, with his three marriages and his pro-abortion stand, could appeal to run-of-the-mill Republicans, and particularly evangelical Republicans, in the race for the nomination. But others disagreed.

Thompson, an alternative to Giuliani, is starting late and so far has not made all that much of an impression, said a man who had once lived in the South. Despite his marital and ideological record, he thought Giuliani would certainly carry the South, although he felt some evangelicals would stay home. Giuliani's "patriotism" would carry him through, he said.

Strangely enough, in this spirited conversation, health care seemed more of an issue than Iraq. One lady blamed Clinton for giving way on a national health care plan in the first year of Bill Clinton's administration. A man answered, however, that that wasn't Hillary's fault, that she would have fought the insurance companies, but that Bill gave up.

"Medicare is already national insurance," said a man from the Midwest. "All we have to do is to extend it to the whole population." He said that when his mother was dying, Medicare and Medigap insurance paid the full bill.

Another was strongly against a nationalized, comprehensive insurance plan.

"One thing is clear," said a woman from San Jose. "There's going to be more interest in the presiderntial race next year than we have seen in the past."

President Bush was seldom mentioned in the conversation.

The ideal ticket might be "Gore and Richardson," a man said. "But I don't think Gore is running."

--

Sound like major layoffs are in prospect for the Orange County Register. With both the Daily News in the San Fernando Valley and the Register hurting, there might be some opportunity for a circulation drive by the L.A. Times. There's going to be a shakeout here, and why shouldn't the smaller papers fall, and not the Times?

But on this trip, from other Los Angelenos, I've heard nothing but criticism of the Times. Everyone is aware of the Chicago control, and nobody likes it.

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