Delegates already looking toward 2008
By Ralph Z. Hallow
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
NEW YORK � Delegates and Republican officeholders here
already are thinking about the 2008 campaign, with
governors and the popular former mayor of New York
leading the buzz.
Rudolph W. Giuliani, who received a rapturous
welcome from delegates last night, became a national
star among Republicans with his tough-on-crime record
as mayor of the nation's largest city and his
in-charge performance during the September 11
"Giuliani has got to be the sentimental favorite
here," said Louisiana delegate and state party
treasurer Charlie Buckels.
Mr. Giuliani also has won admirers by crossing the
country on behalf of President Bush, despite the two
men's differences on social issues.
Besides Mr. Giuliani, the names coming most from
delegates here include Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee,
Colorado Gov. Bill Owens, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt
Romney and New York Gov. George E. Pataki, although
activists generally agreed that there was no obvious
star on the bench, as Ronald Reagan was in the late
Pennsylvania delegate Ken Winger summed up the
view of many delegates: "The nominee would be a
governor none of us has thought of yet."
The talk of the delegates here is the new, vastly
slimmed down Mr. Huckabee, who lost so much weight
that many here who hadn't seen the Arkansas governor
in a while did double takes.
Mr. Huckabee leaves office in January 2007, about
the right time to make a nomination run and still be
thought of as a governor. He has scheduled interviews
with reporters while attending the convention, but,
standing with his delegation yesterday, averred that
his only concern was getting the president re-elected.
But, "I don't want to rule anything out at this
moment," he added.
"There are probably at least 15 people who are
preparing to make a run, including Huckabee," said
former Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III, who also
has been traveling across the country to address
Republican audiences, giving friends the distinct
impression that he is getting ready to run.
Mr. Pataki, who has raised big money for Mr. Bush
and the party, sits fine with pro-business
Republicans, but not with religious and social
Former Gov. Pete Wilson of California said a
candidate resembling Mr. Pataki, if he could get
pro-life Republicans not to take a walk, would bring
two of the three biggest electoral college states into
the Republican column: New York and California, along
with Oregon and Washington, and most of New England,
and cement the Republican advantage in Florida.
Mr. Romney, a Mormon originally from Michigan who
won in one of the nation's most liberal states, is
another name that came up often on the floor
"I'm telling you right now he's getting ready to
run," a lobbyist who deals with Mr. Romney said
The only Republican to whom delegates on the
convention floor yesterday attached the term
"superstar" is Mr. Owens, who has established a
reputation for being well-spoken, pro-life and
"He looks like a superstar and is solid on all the
conservative issues," Mr. Buckels said.
Louisiana delegate George White, a longtime
conservative activist, said he heard Mr. Owens give a
speech in Louisiana and "thought he sounded great, but
so many people could come out of the woodwork � four
years is a long time."
Mr. Owens, who has managed to press all the
buttons for conservative activists across the country,
quietly was letting it be known a couple years ago
that he was in the presidential nomination hunt for
2008. But when marital difficulties surfaced, he took
himself out for a while. But sources close to him say
he's back in.
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was mentioned by many
delegates on the convention floor yesterday, with some
saying he was the odds-on favorite for 2008 and others
said he would be the front-runner but for his last
"It's not going to be another Bush, I can tell you
that � Republicans are chary of dynasties," Mr. White
Arizona delegate Mike Hellon said, "If Jeb Bush's
name were something other than Bush, I would have
included him in the list for 2008, but Republicans in
America don't like a dynasty, so I think that would be
a problem for him."
But Mr. Buckels of Louisiana, after praising Mr.
Owens, hastened to add: "Of course, you can't rule out
Jeb Bush, there's no doubt about that."
A surprise name was Arizona Sen. John McCain,
despite his disagreements with most in his party on
campaign-finance regulations and a host of other
"Our people have told me they think the reason
John McCain has been cooperating with the president so
much is that he wants to run again, which I think will
come as a surprise to many of my fellow Republicans,"
Mr. Gilmore said.
Some delegates noted that Kansas Sen. Sam
Brownback, a favorite of some conservatives, has been
quietly traveling abroad to burnish his foreign-policy
credentials and is working closely with the Christian
One surprise came with how few delegates mentioned
another popular former Virginia governor, Sen. George
Allen, who has been a staunch Bush loyalist in the