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189possible 2008 gop candidates for president

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  • Greg Cannon
    Aug 31, 2004
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      Delegates already looking toward 2008

      By Ralph Z. Hallow

      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
      terrorist attacks.
      "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
      conservative community.
      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
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