If any Democrats are entitled to dream the impossible dream about beating the unbeatable foe, it would be Gov. Douglas Wilder and Sen. Tom Harkin. Governor Wilder, who announced his presidential candidacy last week, is the only black ever elected governor of Virginia (or any other state). Senator Harkin, who announced his presidential candidacy last Sunday (and who laid a brick, literally not figuratively, at the new stadium here yesterday), is the only Democrat ever re-elected to the U.S. Senate from Iowa.
Either is, on paper and by all political logic, a much stronger candidate than former (one-term) Sen. Paul Tsongas of Massachusetts. That the Democrats need a strong candidate is obvious. President Bush is popular and must be considered at this stage likely to maintain the tradition of his predecessor Republican Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon and Reagan, who ran
stronger as incumbents than in winning the office.
In a sense, Governor Wilder and Senator Harkin personify the Democratic Party's identity crisis. Is it the liberal, populist, spending and taxing party of New Deal dreams and rhetoric that Senator Harkin seems to want it to be? Or is it the tough neo-liberal or moderate party of Governor Wilder, who believes, probably correctly, that his strongest campaign card is that since he was able to cut the Virginia budget by $2 billion, he can credibly promise to cut the federal budget by $50 to $75 billion?