With President Barack Obama’s approval ratings falling through the floor and Republican presidential candidates failing to stir voters’ passion, some political observers are thinking about who might make a strong third-party candidate. Politico
offers a list of five:
- Erskine Bowles — The 66-year-old chief of staff in the Clinton White House has credibility on what is perhaps the biggest issue of all: government debt. He was co-chairman, along with former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson, of Obama’s fiscal commission, and they came up with detailed proposals to wean the country from its debt addiction. That includes a combination of tax increases, spending cuts, and reductions in entitlements — Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Bowles isn’t an exciting figure, but he is a bipartisan man of substance. He’s a former banker, which could help him attract business support.
- John Chambers — The 62-year-old CEO of Cisco Systems, which provides much of the Internet’s backbone, also would run on economic bona fides. In his case, the foundation would be job creation and economic growth. A Silicon Valley chieftain fits the bill in those respects. He can play on the theme of overcoming obstacles, as Cisco is working through a series of problems, for which many analysts blame Chambers, that include heavy layoffs and a plunging stock price. Chambers would be able to run as a Washington outsider.
- Hillary Clinton — Some Democrats now regret that Obama beat the 63-year-old secretary of State in the 2008 primaries. Her approval rating has exceeded 65 percent in recent polls. Even Republicans have good things to say about her, with former Vice President Dick Cheney recently calling Clinton the most effective member of Obama’s Cabinet. She could portray herself as a nonpartisan alternative to conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats. She could run on a pro-business platform that would help bring in the campaign donations.
- David Petraeus — The 58-year-old retired general, who now heads the CIA, would have a clear advantage on national security issues, which now carry life-or-death ramifications for the nation. He was U.S. commander in Iraq and Afghanistan and has served both Republican (George W. Bush) and Democratic presidents. That gives him bipartisan credibility. No candidate has more qualifications to wind down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Petraeus also demonstrated selfless patriotism when he accepted what was technically a demotion from head of the Central Command to leading the war in Afghanistan. And veterans make up a substantial portion of the voting population.
- Condoleezza Rice — The 56-year-old Stanford professor has an impeccable record of public service as both secretary of State and national security adviser for President George W. Bush. As a former Democrat, she can play to both sides of the political aisle. Her moderate conservative beliefs would be quite attractive to independents. Rice’s calls for a more civilized political dialogue also would likely resonate with independent voters. "I would like to see the politics cool down," she told CNN's Piers Morgan after the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Rice’s personal story is impressive, too, having grown up in Jim Crow Birmingham, Ala., and begun college at 15.
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