Time in Senate May Be Irrelevant if Obama Runs:
Historically, Governors Have Fared Far Better In Presidential Campaigns (Charles Babington, 11/13/06, Washington Post)

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) might be well advised to stay in the Senate several more years before running for president, as many strategists have suggested. But there are at least 40 reasons to challenge that advice.

That is the number of senators who have tried, and failed, to reach the White House since Sen. John F. Kennedy (D-Mass.) accomplished the feat in 1960. Nearly all of them had more Senate experience than Obama, underscoring the light regard that American voters show for senatorial longevity and expertise in presidential elections.

If Obama’s aim is to become a more respected and knowledgeable senator — in the mold of, say, Robert J. Dole (18 years in the Senate before his 1996 presidential race), Henry “Scoop” Jackson (20 Senate years before his 1972 bid) or Richard G. Lugar (20 Senate years before his 1996 try) — it may be a laudable goal. But it’s a highly questionable presidential strategy.

“The Senate historically has not been a great place from which to run for president,” said former senator Bob Graham (D-Fla.), who personally learned the lesson in 2004. “Senator Obama might feel he would be better off to run while he has not been tainted by an excessive period in the Senate.”

These two years are likely to deep six any chance he had of crafting national appeal.



  1. Rick T says:

    And I await the avalanche of opinion pieces from the WaPost, NY Times, et al questioning his experience
    as they did the Republican governor running for President in 2000.

  2. Dave W says:

    The far left love Obama too much to to let the “right wing” and “corporatist” media (as they see it) trash him … at least not until early March ’08.

  3. erp says:

    John F. Kennedy (D-Mass.) accomplished the feat in 1960 More like a feat of legerdemain.

  4. Chris Durnell says:

    Obama could get away with only a few years in the Senate IF he shows expertise and wisdom on foreign policy or authors/passes a few key points of legislation. That would be sufficient examples of leadership that tell the American people he has the skills to be President.

    If not, he’s unlikely to get the nomination. Personality can only go so far. And these times require someone with proven leadership.

  5. Orrin says:

    Foreign affairs experience in the Senate is particularly fatal–ask Chuck Percy.

    A bill or two can’t compensate for the votes he’s going to have to cast.

  6. jim hamlen says:

    OJ – Percy was a jerk, too.

    Obama is probably realizing that being in the Senate for 20 years is a losing proposition.

    He did go to Nigeria a couple of months ago. What else can he do, go to Tehran? Or
    Beirut? That won’t help him. If he wants to run now, he simply has to throw down a few
    re-definition markers on Hillary, Al Gore, and the rest. The media will take it from
    there. He may not win, but a few pithy comments about the other candidates will be
    trumpeted by the media loud and clear. And if he can give good answers to the question
    “WHY?”, he’ll start to climb the ladder.

    Imagine if the Dems have to seriously consider running Hillary vs. McCain or
    Obama vs. McCain. Gets interesting, eh?

  7. Orrin says:

    Percy was the foreign affairs expert in the Senate. Like Scoop and Lugar and Biden and all the rest, it was worth nothing and alienated voters rather than attracting them.

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