Former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.)
Fred Thompson is the man our country needs in 2008. He has yet to announce, but it now seems certain that he will do so within the next few months. Thompson served as senator for Tennessee from 1994 to 2003 before retiring to hit it big as District Attorney Arthur Branch on TV's Law Order.
The considerable buzz surrounding his name both in the grassroots and in the Republican establishment has already enabled him to out-poll Mitt Romney and even begin creeping up on John McCain.
In a race full of imposters and half-breeds, Thompson is the real deal: a classic conservative dedicated to states' rights and limited government. Thompson opposes abortion, gun control and judicial activism. He supports the mission in Iraq and has been adamant regarding tighter borders.
Socially, his agenda is decidedly traditional but his federalism compels him to favor popular sovereignty when it comes to gay marriage. Not entirely orthodox, he is sympathetic to the cause of campaign finance reform.
Thompson has a proper, decent character. After some 16 years of unsavory types in the White House, he possesses the gravitas necessary to restore dignity and prestige to that highest public office.
Plus, last time the Republicans ran a successful actor, things turned out pretty well. (RIP, Ronnie.)
Andrew Bruss, Beacon staff:
Former Vice President Al Gore
As the election buzz builds, there is one big question on everyone's mind: "Will Gore run?" Anyone claiming to have the definitive answer is blowing smoke, but if he were to throw in his hat, the former vice president would be the indestructible force this country needs to get back on track.
Given the fact that he won the popular vote in 2000 with a public image of being boring, his music-festival-promoting, Academy-Award-winning celebrity status would make him a shoo-in this time around.
Gore's environmental advocacy and extensive history in the Senate and executive branch make him the competent, well-seasoned political figure this nation needs at the helm of what is gradually becoming a sinking ship.
Seeing as Gore has yet to announce a run, hyping him is jumping the gun, to say the least. But one thing is certain: if Gore decides to take another shot at the White House, it would be the greatest nightmare to GOP strategists since Bush's incompetence placed this election comfortably on the Democrats' turf in the first place.
Jonathan Terbush, Beacon staff:
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio)
Dennis Kucinich is the best candidate for president in 2008 because he is the only one with sensible, substantive ideas for the country. For one, he actually supports the full withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.
Other candidates, including Obama and Clinton, support partial withdrawals or use carefully worded language such as "phased redeployment" to leave the option open for troops to be moved elsewhere in the region. A major component of his defense plan includes talking with and aiding other countries to foster good relationships with them, rather than carrying on America's legacy as a global bully.
Kucinich is also a leader in pushing for issues other candidates hardly mention, if at all. He strongly backs workers' rights, a withdrawal from NAFTA, abolition of the death penalty, elimination of mandatory minimum sentences and an end to the war on drugs. The Ohio representative is by far the most liberal candidate, and the only one bold enough to act on his conscience and stray from the political safe-zone of the middle ground. Sure, he isn't telegenic, photogenic or a reincarnation of Eugene Debs, but he is by far the best choice for 2008.
Jeff Hudecek, Beacon editorial cartoonist:
Retired General Wesley Clark
In his 2004 campaign for the presidency, retired four-star general Wesley Clark ran on a platform of experience and practicality. He served in the U.S. Army for 34 years, eventually becoming NATO's Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. He also has a master's degree from Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.
He is the type of logical moderate the Democrats need to bridge their gap with conservative thinking. During his campaign, he advocated environmentalism for economic reasons, emphasizing efficiency instead of unfeasible idealism. He believed in rebuilding alliances and encouraging international cooperation against global threats. His economic policies called for revoking Bush's upper-class tax cuts, instead providing breaks and incentives for job creation.
Those concerned about a military leader in office need only look at his rhetoric since 2004. He has actively opposed military action against Iran, co-founding StopIranWar.com, and believes in a political solution in Iraq.
Marissa Sertich, Beacon staff:
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani
Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani proved himself during and after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. His success as mayor went far beyond that, however, as he strengthened gun-control policies, reducing shootings by 72 percent. He also increased school funding while still saving taxpayers $9 billion in tax cuts.
In addition to Giuliani's admirable record, his politics have the potential of appealing to a broad base of people and unifying Americans. Giuliani would control big government spending, as he did in the Big Apple when he turned a deficit into a $2 billion surplus. He also will not play to divisive social and religious conservatives
like some others in the GOP.
As a traditional, fiscal conservative, Giuliani understands important economic principles and the importance of freedom-individual and financial.
James O'Leary, Beacon correspondent:
Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY)
Hillary Clinton lived in the White House for eight years and should be welcomed home in 2008 as the first female president of the US.
Clinton is clearly stronger than her Democratic rivals. Barack Obama, while charismatic, is inexperienced. The failed Kerry-Edwards ticket is still on the minds of voters from 2004, hurting the latter's chances. Al Gore says he isn't running. This is her race to win.
Hillary Clinton appeals to a variety of voters. She's a Democrat, but reasonably moderate and thus may appeal to southern states. Voters remember the good old days of the Clinton era in the '90s, back when we were at peace and had a national surplus. They're sick of the Republican Party holding the executive branch and turning a deaf ear toward the concerns of the people.
Clinton would be a strong leader in resolving the conflict in Iraq and mending the damaged relationships with other nations. She also has clear, well-thought-out plans for alternative energy, education and universal healthcare.
She believes in the promise of the United States under the right leadership. The right leadership in 2008 is Hillary Clinton.
Chris Girard, Beacon staff:
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani
Just as the country needed healing and leadership after 9/11, so will the country after the disaster that was the Bush administration. Rudy Giuliani is the man to look to.
As mayor of New York City, Giuliani governed as executive over the largest constituency of any of the main candidates for president. As far as Republicans go, Giuliani is the anti-Bush, combining libertarian social philosophy with sound, logic-based economic policy.
Last Thursday, Giuliani picked up a key endorsement-that of billionaire and two-time presidential candidate Steve Forbes. Forbes, who knows a thing or two about economic success, said Rudy's tenure as mayor "showed how exercising fiscal discipline, including tax cuts, lowers deficits, spurs economic growth and increases revenue."
As we have seen in the past six years, the perils of undivided, unchecked, unbalanced government are a threat to the nation's well being. It would be na've to think this is different with Democrats in charge. Giuliani has plenty of experience working across the aisle-he had to as mayor of liberal New York. Giuliani will bring a new, refreshing style of leadership to the White House.
Chris Auclair, Beacon staff:
Former Vice President Al Gore
No other candidate or potential candidate in the 2008 race has a stance on the environment to match Al Gore. The former senator and vice president shows overwhelming support for the well-being of our planet, whether through his 1992 bestseller Earth in the Balance or the Oscar-winning An Inconvenient Truth.
Critics love to call Gore a showboating hypocrite for all the publicity garnered from his climate-change lobbying. They also argue environmental provisions, like a cap-and-trade system or carbon taxes, could severely damage the U.S. economy. Gore's mission is not to destroy the economy but to force rapid change and encourage debate on how to get there.
The merits of climate change are not the point either. Whether or not global warming is junk science, ecosystem destruction and the health effects of pollution cannot continue for the sake of the a free global marketplace. The state of the environment affects the welfare of future generations worldwide. This is why we should pay attention to the candidate who makes it his chief concern.
Matt Byrne, Beacon staff:
Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.)
Sen. Joe Biden has a brass pair. As a presidential candidate in the now-warm, but soon-to-be-smoldering 2008 race, the Democrat from Delaware has twice the rhetorical muscle of George W. Bush circa 1999. But unlike the Texas contender, Biden has the experience to back up his talk.
And as a 35-year veteran of the Senate and the current chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Biden's drill sergeant demeanor and record of policy follow-through indicate that he stands ready to serve.
Although not the most polished in the pool, he is certainly the most hard-working candidate yet to toss in his hat. Eight years of blind optimism has left the nation thirsty for a blunt, declarative voice. Unfortunately, the unfiltered Biden has already proven too raw for too many. Comments about Barack Obama nearly sank the senator right out of the gate, but his plan to divide Iraq along sectarian lines could prove the lesser of all evils in the region.
As long as his feet stay firmly planted on Earth, and out of his mouth, Biden could be an incredibly effective president.
Kristen Golden, Beacon contributor:
Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.)
After the amount of turmoil caused by the current Bush administration, it seems as if America has finally realized that it does matter who we vote for after all. If we have truly realized that, we would be wise to throw our support behind Hillary Clinton.
Clinton is a controversial candidate. This isn't just on account of her gender, but also the scrutiny that comes due to her husband's history of promiscuity. However, since she was not the one embroiled in controversy, this should not affect her.
But if we are going to analyze this part of her life, it is important to note that she showed great determination, loyalty and poise during a rough patch.
Clinton has a solid political background spanning more than 30 years. She has shown great compassion, loyalty and even won a Grammy for the recording of her 1996 book, It Takes a Village, as the First Lady. She received 60 percent of the New York vote in her last run for the Senate, proving that she can win over the Republicans.
Her main goals as president are expanding health coverage, withdrawing from Iraq and energy independence. So as a contender focusing on domestic and foreign policy and with a strong political history, Hillary is the best choice for change in the presidential election of 2008.