Not sure what to make of the 2008 presidential election just yet? Not to worry. There's plenty of time. And a new resource: a new book by ABC News and “Time” magazine political analyst Mark Halperin. “The Undecided Voter's Guide to the Next President” is sort of a Who's Who directory, with a short synopsis of each candidate's position on the major issues. Here's an excerpt:
I get the same question all the time: Who will win the 2008 presidential election?
Rarely does anyone ask me, Who would make the best president?
Bill Clinton has described campaigning for president as a job interview, with the application process composed of unrelenting media scrutiny and a grueling coast-to-coast gauntlet of events and debates. Consider these pages a compilation of the references, dossiers, and supporting material for the major applicants, and yourself part of the national hiring committee. The task is not easy. Sometimes the candidate who appears most qualified is not right for the job, and sometimes a resume does not adequately convey talent or potential. But I hope this book can help you make the best possible choice based on the best available evidence.
It may be your only chance to meet all the candidates, compare them side by side, and make an informed decision before the choice is made for you.
The men and woman maneuvering for the White House are an accomplished and fascinating bunch. They include a war hero, a precedent-setting trial lawyer, a famous actor, a billionaire, and a former First Lady.
One saved America's Olympic Games from scandal, another was hailed as a national leader after 9/11. Some grew up with modest means and became self-made millionaires; others were raised in comfort and have become richer still. They are a diverse group, with members of the Mormon and Jewish faiths, an African American, an Italian-American, an Hispanic, and a woman. They have written best-selling books, endured personal tragedy, and gotten themselves into — and out of — hot water. Some have already made history in their political careers, and others will have an opportunity to make history if they reach the Oval Office.
They are all impressive, with interesting stories to tell, and enthusiastic supporters to sing their praises. But presidencies evolve in unexpected ways. Both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, once in office, followed different executive trajectories than had been signaled during their campaigns, disappointing tens of millions, including many who voted for them. When Clinton and Bush were running for the White House, the focus was often on the external dramas and day-to-day ups and downs of their races. It was difficult to fully anticipate how they would eventually lead the country through the haze of polls, pratfalls, and pundits. In order to assess a potential president, one must look past the clutter to study policy plans and political substance; it is equally essential to understand the personality behind the record, the spirit animating the rhetoric.
This book will give you a sense of the biographies, careers, and priorities of the candidates competing for 2008. It also will explain and analyze their positions on the most pressing domestic and foreign issues affecting the country. The situation in Iraq and the contours of the war on terror will have an impact on every aspect of the race. How the candidates conduct themselves within that vortex will surely be important. But other policy issues — and the questions of character and readiness — will matter as well.
These pages are based on my nearly twenty years covering presidential elections, roaming the campaign trail, observing and interviewing the candidates, chatting with voters and political strategists, and trying to divine the mood and priorities of the nation. I have also relied on the words of the candidates themselves, as well as on the excellent work of my journalistic colleagues and political research groups.
My chief focus is on the seven people who I believe have the greatest chance to become the nation's 44th president. There are also sections about those who are influencing the campaign by participating in the race, by contributing ideas to the public dialogue, or by waiting in the wings, ready to make a hard charge toward the front-runners at a moment's notice.
This is the first American presidential election since 1928 in which neither the incumbent president nor vice president is competing in the race. In addition, after twenty consecutive years of presidents named "Bush" or "Clinton," the nation faces a choice about extending the dynastic cycle — or not.
Running a presidential race requires energy, ambition, sacrifice, courage, and imagination. Everyone in the presidential field should be commended for their efforts. And in this wide-open 2008 season, there is plenty of time for a candidate — even a trailing one — to win the election by combining good ideas, hard work, and an understanding of what the country needs in a president. Read on to figure out who has the best chance of winning, and, more important, who is best suited for the most difficult job in the world.
Excerpted from “The Undecided Voter’s Guide to the Next President” by Mark Halperin. © 2007 Mark Halperin. All rights reserved. Excerpted with permission of HarperColllins. No portion of this may be reproduced or distributed without permission of the publisher.