Interview with John C. Fortier, of the American Enterprise Institute, about the state of American electoral campaign, the “Al Gore factor” and the chances McCains has to become the 44th President of the United States of America.
A.L.H.- Prof. Fortier, Tomas Mann of Brookings Institution in Washington has said that the situation for Republicans does not look good as it is, what do you think about it?
J.C.F. – I think Tom Mann is right that the overall climate is not good for Republicans in 2008, but I think he underestimates McCain’s strengths and Obama’s weaknesses. At least the way that I see it is that McCain has the personal qualities that can make up for the party advantage for Democrats.
A.L.H. – How about McCain’s chances to become the President? And what about the Congress?
J.C.F. – Not sure if he will win, but he should be able to make the race competitive. Congress is another story, however. Democrats are likely to gain in both houses.
A.L.H. – How do you feel about the “Al Gore factor”?
J.C.F. – I don’t think that Al Gore will be much of a factor. It is still a close race between Obama and Clinton, but the great likelihood is that Obama wins a clear, but close victory. In that case, Gore and other party leaders will rally behind Obama, but it will not be particularly controversial, as Obama will be seen by most as the clear winner.
A.L.H. – But what if Obama will end up with no chances to win before November?
J.C. F. – If somehow, Obama were to collapse soon, then Hillary Clinton might make it much closer and there would be real confusion in the party and then Gore and others might play a more substantial role. But the likelihood of the Obama collapse scenario is pretty small.
A.L.H. – Let’s get back to McCain: which scenario do you envision for him if the race between Obama and Clinton becomes even closer than this, can it be an advantage for the Republican candidate?
J.C.F. – I do think that the tough race between Clinton and Obama helps McCain a bit. There is a certain negativity and Obama and Clinton have been forced to take more divisive positions than they would have had one of them won the race early.
A.L.H. – In order for McCain to benefit from this scenario, how long do you think the close race between the two democratic candidates should last?
J.C.F. – Unless we have such a close race that Democrats are fighting about it until the convention, I suspect that the wounds will heal. So it is of modest benefit to McCain. A really divisive end to the Democratic race would be more helpful to him, but is less likely.