Re: [prezveepsenator] Bipartisan Group Eyes Independent Bid
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From: Greg Cannon <gregcannon1@...>
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Sent: Sunday, December 30, 2007 8:06:47 AM
Subject: [prezveepsenator] Bipartisan Group Eyes Independent Bid
http://www.washingt onpost.com/ wp-dyn/content/ article/2007/ 12/29/AR20071229 01476_pf. html
Bipartisan Group Eyes Independent Bid
First, Main Candidates Urged To Plan 'Unity'
By David S. Broder
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 30, 2007; A04
New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a potential
independent candidate for president, has scheduled a
meeting next week with a dozen leading Democrats and
Republicans, who will join him in challenging the
major-party contenders to spell out their plans for
forming a "government of national unity" to end the
gridlock in Washington.
Those who will be at the Jan. 7 session at the
University of Oklahoma say that if the likely nominees
of the two parties do not pledge to "go beyond
tokenism" in building an administration that seeks
national consensus, they will be prepared to back
Bloomberg or someone else in a third-party campaign
Conveners of the meeting include such prominent
Democrats as former senators Sam Nunn (Ga.), Charles
S. Robb (Va.) and David L. Boren (Okla.), and former
presidential candidate Gary Hart. Republican
organizers include Sen. Chuck Hagel (Neb.), former
party chairman Bill Brock, former senator John
Danforth (Mo.) and former New Jersey governor
Christine Todd Whitman.
Boren, who will host the meeting at the university,
where he is president, said: "It is not a gathering to
urge any one person to run for president or to say
there necessarily ought to be an independent option.
But if we don't see a refocusing of the campaign on a
bipartisan approach, I would feel I would want to
encourage an independent candidacy."
The list of acceptances suggests that the group could
muster the financial and political firepower to make
the threat of such a candidacy real. Others who have
indicated that they plan to attend the one-day session
include William S. Cohen, a former Republican senator
from Maine and defense secretary in the Clinton
administration; Alan Dixon, a former Democratic
senator from Illinois; Bob Graham, a former Democratic
senator from Florida; Jim Leach, a former Republican
congressman from Iowa; Susan Eisenhower, a political
consultant and granddaughter of former president
Dwight D. Eisenhower; David Abshire, president of the
Center for the Study of the Presidency; and Edward
Perkins, a former U.S. ambassador to the United
Bloomberg, a former Democrat who was elected mayor of
New York as a Republican, left the GOP this past
summer to become an independent. While disclaiming any
plan to run for president in 2008, he has continued to
fuel speculation by traveling widely and speaking out
on both domestic and international issues. The mayor,
a billionaire many times over, presumably could
self-finance even a late-starting candidacy.
"As mayor, he has seen far too often how
hyperpartisanship in Washington has gotten in the way
of making progress on a host of issues," said
Bloomberg's press secretary, Stu Loeser. "He looks
forward to sitting down and discussing this with other
Until plans for this meeting were disclosed, the most
concrete public move toward any kind of independent
candidacy was by Unity08, a group planning an online
nominating convention to pick either an independent
candidate or a ticket combining a Republican and a
Democrat. The sponsors, an eclectic mix of consultants
who have worked for candidates including Jimmy Carter
(D) and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), have not
aligned with a specific prospect.
Now, some people with high-level political and
governmental credentials are moving to put muscle
behind the effort. A letter from Nunn and Boren sent
to those attending the Jan. 7 session said that "our
political system is, at the least, badly bent and many
are concluding that it is broken at a time where
America must lead boldly at home and abroad. Partisan
polarization is preventing us from uniting to meet the
challenges that we must face if we are to prevent
further erosion in America's power of leadership and
At the session, Boren said, participants will try to
draft a statement on such issues as the need to
"rebuild and reconfigure our military forces," nuclear
proliferation and terrorism, and restoring U.S.
credibility in the world.
"Today, we are a house divided," the letter said. "We
believe that the next president must be able to call
for a unity of effort by choosing the best talent
available -- without regard to political party -- to
help lead our nation."
Boren said he and Nunn, who often collaborated when
they headed the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services
committees, respectively, issued invitations to other
moderates with whom they had served, and found that
almost everyone was willing to come.
"Our hope is that the candidates will respond with
their own specific ideas about how to pull the country
together, not just aim at getting out their own
polarized base," Boren said. "But we will have a
couple months before the nominees will be known, and
we can judge in that time what their response will
Boren said the meeting is being announced in advance
of Thursday's Iowa caucuses "because we don't want
anyone to think this was a response to any particular
candidate or candidates." He said the nation needs a
"government of national unity" to overcome its
partisan divisions in a time of national challenge he
likened to that faced by Great Britain during World
"Electing a president based solely on the platform or
promises of one party is not adequate for this time,"
Boren said. "Until you end the polarization and have
bipartisanship, nothing else matters, because one
party simply will block the other from acting."
Danforth said he remains a Republican but finds little
cause for optimism among the current GOP candidates.
"My party is appealing to a real meanness," he said in
an interview, "and an irresponsible sense of machismo
in foreign policy. I hope it will be less extreme, but
I'm an American before I'm a Republican." Danforth has
also written critically about the impact of religious
conservatives on the Republican Party.
Cohen said his emphasis will be on the issues rather
than on a candidacy, adding that he and Nunn will
co-sponsor a series of "dialogues" on key topics,
aiming to build planks for a possible consensus
platform for the next president.
"The important goal all of us share," Cohen said, "is
to get government back to the center."
Nunn, for his part, described Bloomberg as "an
enormously capable man" but said: "I've made no
decision who I'm going to support. Most of us hope to
shape the Republican or Democratic side's response,
but who knows where this is going to go? I think the
country's at the tipping point, and it's going to take
a lot more understanding by the electorate for anybody
to be able to lead."