A free thinker in the Heartland...

Monday, July 10, 2006

Bayh in '08

From the Indianapolis Star:

U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh, fresh off testing the presidential political waters in Iowa, laid out for supporters on Sunday why he thinks he would make a good president.

The two-term Democrat believes his work on the Senate Armed Services Committee would help him come up with a "national security policy that's tough, but also is smart" and said his two terms as governor taught him "to actually implement things, make them work."
Speaking to about 85 party activists who spent three days learning how to help political candidates while the senator was in Iowa raising his visibility, Bayh said the nation needs someone with his kind of experience to be president "because the Oval Office is really not the right place for on-the-job training."

Bayh, a moderate Democrat who views himself as someone who can attract independents and Republicans, said his central theme would be to try to bring the country back together. He said the nation is more divided than at any time since the Vietnam War because the Bush administration has focused on dividing people.

"I just don't think we're going to get where we need to go as deeply polarized as we are," he said. "I do think I can be more of a force for reconciliation and I think that's vitally important to our country right now."

Bayh, whose father, Birch, was an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976, said it's time for everyone in America to begin working together.

"In the long run, what's good for our neighbors and our communities and our country is also good for us. We have to expand people's definitions about what's good," he said.

Asked by one of the participants about what separates him from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bayh declined to answer, saying he wants to focus on his own message.

"It's really about what you're for, where you want to lead, what you stand for, what you hope to do," he said.

He urged those who attended the three-day Camp Bayh, who took part in sessions such as how to be a better candidate, developing campaign messages, fundraising and phone banking, to return home and get others involved.
"We have to convince them that they can make a difference," he said.

Bayh, as he has repeatedly in the past, said he is still deciding whether to run. He said whether he can raise enough money to be a viable candidate will be part of the decision, but not the primary factor. He said he likely will make a decision over Thanksgiving.
"This is a pretty profound decision and I just need some time to sit and reflect," he said.

After his 15-minute speech and 20 minutes of questions and answers, he told reporters he's not worried about the fact he's not widely known outside of Indiana and has low name recognition. He pointed out that four years ago at this time, Sen. Joe Lieberman was the leading candidate, former House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt was second and not many people outside North Carolina knew who John Edwards was.

"John Edwards was 1 or 2 percent in the polls, about where I am now, and he obviously competed very well. So things can change," he said. "I feel optimistic. It is a David vs. Goliath situation in some respects. But as I recall, David did OK."