March 13, 2006
Could be. Two surprise candidates — one Democrat, one Republican — have been gaining momentum.
One is Mark Warner, the former Virginia governor and co-founder of the company that became Nextel. Warner is said to be worth $200 million. Because of his money and his ability to win and govern in a red state, Warner now seems the only Dem candidate who can stop Hillary Clinton . . . not unthinkable, as even a majority of Democrats doubt that Clinton can win the general election.
Yesterday, Matt Bai wrote a long and very good profile on Warner for The New York Times Magazine.
The other comer is Mitt Romney, governor of Massachusetts, founder of Bain Capital, and former CEO of the Salt Lake City Organizing Committee. This weekend Romney took second in a straw poll of southern state Republican activists . . . a pretty good trick for a northeastern Mormon. Senator Bill Frist won the poll, but that is to be discounted, says conservative blogger Hugh Hewitt, since the poll was taken in Frist’s home state of Tennessee. More remarkable is that Romney beat Virginia’s George Allen, a southerner expected to do well in this poll. Also underperforming was John McCain, who appears to have a real problem with the Republican base.
Watch Romney. He’s the smartest candidate in the Republican field and he has a talent for organization. As head of the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Olympics, a job he took on in 1999, he had to fix a bribery scandal and repair a $370 million debt. Romney quickly turned matters around, and he even contributed $1 million himself to retire the debt.
Warner and Romney . . . two entrepreneurs, now in the hunt. Don’t count your Clinton and McCain chickens just yet.