Do you remember the sick feeling in your chest when you learned that George Bush had "beaten" Al Gore in 2000 as a result of Katherine Harris's political shenanigans in Florida and the intervention of the Supreme Court?
Or how about the overwhelming feeling of disappointment you felt when, between the "Swift Boat Veterans" sliming of John Kerry and voter intimidation in Ohio, George Bush was reelected in another squeaker in 2004?
Well, get ready to feel that way all over again in 2008 if the Democrats nominate another presidential candidate who can't overcome Republican dirty tricks and fear-mongering.
Sad to say, our country is just as divided today as it was in 2000 and 2004. And the Republicans are going to play just as dirty in 2008.
Only one candidate has the record to stand up to Republican scare tactics and smear campaigns. Bill Richardson -- a fiscally responsible Governor from the West who has cut taxes and balanced budget while increasing investments in health care and education -- cannot be portayed as a tax and spend liberal.
A recent Zogby poll showed that more Americans -- Democrat and Republican -- would consider voting for Bill Richardson than any other candidate of either party.
And political guru and University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato, who has an unmatched record at predicting races, says, "Republicans will tell you privately that if the Democrats nominate Bill Richardson, the election is over. They know they will lose to Bill Richardson."
That's why you and I have to pull out all the stops to make sure he wins in Iowa and New Hampshire -- because we must shake our country loose from the grip of the extreme right and the neo-cons who have done so much damage over the past seven years.
Nothing would make the Republicans happier than the opportunity to run against the other Democratic candidates in the general election. You can be sure they are already crafting their messages of fear and distortion to confuse voters and smear these candidates.
If we're going to win the White House, we need a candidate that the right wing can't lay a glove on.
Bill Richardson is the only candidate with a clear, cohesive plan on Iraq that would bring home all our troops right away. And he has the credentials to deliver on that plan. Compared to his experience, his leadership, and his vision, the Republicans have no one who can stack up against him.
Larry Sabato is right. If Bill Richardson is nominated, Giuliani, Romney, or Thompson will stand up to Bill Richardson's appeal. If he's not, it's going to be 2000 and 2004 all over again.
We and every other Democrat have to start thinking about next November now. If we're clear about our goals then, we'll be clear about what we have to do in January and February now.
P.S. If you'll be watching Bill in tonight's Democratic debate, you can join our online chat and be part of our virtual debate watching party. And if you contribute right now, we'll be able to put your money to use tomorrow, distributing video of Bill's best debate lines!
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