THOUGH there are 1,035 days till the...


THOUGH there are 1,035 days till the New Hampshire primary, the Inside-the-Beltway crowd has already started "covering" the 1996 presidential campaign. As I Noted here Monday, 20 Republicans have already been mentioned as probable candidates.

You think that's silly? Some political journalists are already speculating about Democratic presidential candidates in 1996. For example, the Cleveland Plain Dealer carried this bit of punditry last month:

"Here are the morning odds for 1996: Clinton (2 to 1): No matter how weak he is, an incumbent president has an enormous advantage. Mario Cuomo (3 to 1): This fellow has everything the Democrats want and need. Experienced, articulate, charismatic. Sam Nunn (5 to 1): A genuine new Democrat with integrity. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (5 to 1): A Northern Sam Nunn and a smooth talker to boot. Edward Kennedy (10 to 1): A slim, sober, married Kennedy could be formidable."

I like to play this game as much as the next pundit, but what a list! These are the jokes, folks!

If these are the likely intra-party opponents to Bill Clinton, he's a cinch to get renominated.

Mario? He may not even be re-elected governor of New York. A Marist Institute poll last week showed his job rating lower than ever and more New Yorkers say they don't want him to run for governor next year than say they do.

Sam? He'd never take a demotion. He's showing that the chairmanship of the Armed Services Committee is more influential than the presidency on the issues important to him.

Pat? Same thing. He's going to show that the chairmanship of the Finance Committee is more influential than the presidency ,, when the fight over Social Security heats up.

Teddy? Now he might run. He did the last time a Southern Democrat in the White House sought renomination. He failed, but he did bruise up Jimmy Carter enough so that he lost to Ronald Reagan.

Kennedy was egged into the race by the likes of historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., who criticized Carter for his moderate policies. Schlesinger seemed to be laying the groundwork for another Democratic divide last week when he wrote, "If [Clinton] leads the U.S. step by step into a Balkan war . . . Bosnia will destroy his domestic hopes as surely as Vietnam destroyed Lyndon Johnson's Great Society." And, by implication (or should I say innuendo?), his presidency.

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The real reason neither Cuomo nor Moynihan is going to be nominated for president next time or ever is that they are New York Democrats. As I keep explaining here.

Pay attention, my fellow pundits!

You have to be pretty liberal to get elected statewide as a Democrat in the Empire State, and the American people no longer want such people in the White House. The last New York Democrat to be nominated for president was Franklin D. Roosevelt.

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