Capitol Hill

White House politics

The 2008 race for the White House is in full swing, and the first debate among Democrats running for president will be April 26 at South Carolina State University, Orangeburg. This will be the opening bell for what promises to be one of the more extraordinary presidential election campaigns in modern history.

For starters, this will be a rare open-field race because 2008 will be the first presidential election year since 1928 in which neither the incumbent president nor vice president will be a candidate during any part of the process. And it is likely that for the first time several Republican and Democratic candidates will raise more than $100 million for their respective primary campaigns.

Competition among Democratic candidates is intensified by history that suggests it is the Democrats' turn to recapture the White House. Only once during the past 50 years has a political party won a third consecutive four-year presidential term. This happened in 1988 with the election of former President George H.W. Bush.

His nomination as the Republican candidate in 1988 also reflected a Republican Party tendency during its nominating process to opt for front-runners and people who have run before. Another example is former Sen. Bob Dole (R) in 1996. But the Republican Party must attract independent voters it lost during the 2006 election, and the competition has intensified among its candidates, as well.