At one point, there were fourteen potential Democratic candidates for president (Warner and Feingold are not running; Al Gore says he's not running). All along, Tom Daschle has been near the back of the pack but he's a good man. Without a ton of money, it's difficult for anyone to break into the upper tier of candidates for the top job. That's too bad. We sometimes lose good people because there isn't a place for them. Sometimes, I wish we could elect maybe a dozen or so national senators who could act as a bridge from one presidential administration to another and maybe circle the wagons when there's an incompetent like Bush. Daschle might have been a good pick for a job like that.
Here's an article by Scott Waltman from the Aberdeen News
about Daschle that came out just before the election:
Two years removed from being ousted as the nation's top Democrat, Tom Daschle still considers politics to be a huge part of his life.
Indeed, the 58-year-old Aberdeen native still considers himself a politician.
"I must say, the interest hasn't dropped off. I follow (politics) closely, sometimes hourly, certainly daily," Daschle said in a telephone interview with the American News. (snip)
He's on the boards of the Mayo Clinic, CB Richard Ellis Real Estate and Prime BioSolutions. He also works with the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and the Council on Foreign Relations, does public speaking and stumps for Democratic candidates.
Daschle and former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., are wrapping up a series of speeches on politics. Daschle and former Rep. Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., debated political policies twice in October.
"It's virtually all fun and no pressure," Daschle said of the debates.
Debating when you don't need to court voters is easier, he said. The consequences aren't as dire as "when your name is on the line."
Daschle is contemplating a run for president. But, he said, he has deferred any serious thought until early next year. He said he's not leaning one way or the other.
Here's another South Dakota newspaper with a different take on Daschle as reported by David Kranz of the Argus Leader:
Former Democrat Gov. Harvey Wollman says he is not looking for a rock star politician to support.
“The person we need has to be very intelligent and have a world view and be experienced. Al Gore was really elected in the first race against Bush and deserves another chance,” Wollman said.
Hillary Clinton is “unelectable” and Obama has some growing to do, Wollman said.
Daschle is in the “too early to commit” stage, too. He remains in the thought process stage of his own presidential candidacy. But as Obama absorbs many of his former valued staffers, the possibility of a Daschle candidacy seems to diminish.
When it comes to Daschle choosing, he also has a dilemma, having worked in the Senate with many of the possible Democratic contenders, including Clinton of New York, Edwards of North Carolina, former Vice President Gore, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, among others.
The guess here is that he would go with Clinton or Obama.
Or run for president. We'll see.
We forget that Daschle was very much in the thick of things four to five years ago. Here's an excerpt from an interview with Michael Isikoff, co-author of Hubris, in the Baltimore Chronicle:
[Michael Isikoff:] There is no easy answer to the question of why we went to war. As we show, Bush really did have this personal and very visceral antipathy to Saddam. It was startling to hear, as our sources related to us, how the president would explode with expletive-ridden tirades when the issue of Saddam came up. I still find pretty eye-popping the scene where the president flips his middle finger just a few inches from Tom Daschle’s face when the subject of Saddam was raised. But that is only part of the story. You have the machinations of the neoconservatives like Wolfowitz and Perle who had been promoting the idea of overthrowing Saddam for years. You had Cheney and Rumsfeld, who wanted to reassert American strategic power. You had the whole post-9/11 emotional mood of the country. ...
And finally, there's this from Matt Bai of The New York Times
Back in February 2002, some colleagues and I sat down to lunch with Tom Daschle, who was then the Democratic majority leader of the United States Senate. This was in the months just after the fall of the twin towers and the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan, when most of America — and at least publicly, most Democrats in Washington — seemed eager to support the president. On this day, however, Daschle, a mild South Dakotan whose idea of being confrontational is to interrupt without saying “excuse me,” seemed to have lost patience with George W. Bush and his entire administration. He talked with very little prompting about the way the president and his political adviser, Karl Rove, refused to compromise on legislation, bullied their own party’s senators and ignored leaders of the opposition. Daschle said he hardly ever spoke to anyone at the White House. I asked him whether he thought this kind of arrogance would eventually come back to hurt Bush’s presidency.
“I’d like to think so,” Daschle said, “but I just don’t know.”
I put the question to him another way: in all his years in politics, I asked, had he ever seen anyone act so imperiously and not eventually lose power as a result? Daschle shook his head. “No,” he said. “I never have.”
I have found myself recalling that exchange many times since, and it was very much on my mind as I stood in the offices of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on election night, watching young aides with markers erase and replace the latest election numbers on a white board, effectively wiping away what remained of Bush’s influence in Washington. The next day, I called Daschle at his law office and reminded him of our conversation. “No doubt about it,” he said. “I think the American people got really tired and fatigued with the arrogance and style of this administration. Someone told me early in my career: ‘If you want to get elected, learn to speak. If you want to stay elected, learn to listen.’ ”
Whether Daschle runs for president or not, I hope he keeps himself useful. This is the kind of guy you want on a special commission or to handle a difficult job for Congress or the White House.
Note: This is part of an ongoing series on potential Democrats running for president. The lastest two posts in the series were on Tom Vilsack
and John Edwards