Thursday, March 8, 2007

the "neither/nor" candidate

If we have a Clinton/Giuliani match-up next year, might we have this as well?

In the final weeks of the French presidential campaign, dominated by a nurturing Socialist and a crime-busting conservative, a third candidate has upended the race with a very American theme: put partisanship aside and end the false promises of the big parties.

The candidate, Fran├žois Bayrou, a 55-year-old politician, farmer and former classics teacher, is campaigning as the “neither/nor” option. Remarkably, the strategy seems to be working, in part because of rising disillusionment over the two main candidates.

The percentage of undecided voters is higher than before any presidential election in 25 years. Between 17 and 20 percent of voters say they will choose Mr. Bayrou in the first electoral round on April 22, according to France’s major polling organizations. Suddenly, he is a contender.

Hmmm. A "nurturing Socialist" and a "crime-busting Conservative." On the surface, it sounds like a Clinton/Giuliani match-up, doesn't it? Clinton wants to be perceived as nurturing and she has been labeled a Socialist in the past, and Giuliani's policies helped to clean up New York City streets.

It wasn't so long ago - 1992, in fact - that we had a third-party candidate who made some serious waves. H. Ross Perot became a media darling after he announced on Larry King Live that he'd run for president if his name was on the ballots of all 50 states. Even though he couldn't seem to make up his mind about the presidency, he received almost 19% of the popular vote. Ralph Nader attempted to become a serious third-party contender in 2000, but he was largely seen as a person who squirreled away votes from Al Gore.

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