Duncan Hunter to Announce Presidential Bid
Duncan Hunter is throwing his hat into the ring for the 2008 presidential race, with an announcement expected at 2 pm ET.
Who, you might ask? One of the most powerful Members of Congress, at least for now: Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
Hunter’s ambitions come as a surprise to other Republicans, none of whom had an inkling that he might look to jump into what is likely to be a crowded field for the GOP presidential nomination. But even more shocking is that he would do this a week before the midterm election that may shift control of the House to the Democrats and cost Hunter his chairmanship of the House Armed Services Committee. Hunter is running for re-election Nov. 7.
“To say it’s curious timing is quite an understatement. It is bizarre,” said Stuart Rothenberg, the editor of an independent political newsletter in Washington. “It does suggest he figures he’s going to have some time on his hands, that he won’t have to worry about running hearings and fashioning legislation. He must figure one of his Democratic colleagues will be taking care of that.”
Charlie Cook, another nonpartisan political analyst, was similarly baffled by the timing. “He may not be the only prominent committee chairman looking for something else to do after next week,” he said. “But this is very strange timing.”
More than just the timing is strange, frankly. It’s a big leap from 9th most powerful Member of the junior branch of Congress to the White House.
Despite this legislative clout, Hunter is little known beyond Capitol Hill. “This is a guy who truly does have zero name recognition in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina. Unless he has a family member living in one of those key early states, nobody there has ever heard of him,” Rothenberg said.
Nor is history on his side:
No member of the House has been elected president since James A. Garfield in 1880. Members who have tried and failed in recent years include Republicans John Kasich of Ohio and Jack Kemp of New York and Democrats Richard Gephardt of Missouri and Dennis Kucinich of Ohio.
To be fair, I’d say his chances are somewhat better than Kucinich’s.