News

Iraq, Health Care Major Issues in 2008 US Presidential Election

Multimedia

Audio

The war in Iraq, U.S. relations with Iran and the state of the economy are all expected to be major factors in next year's presidential campaign. In the fourth part of his series on the 2008 election, National correspondent Jim Malone looks at the issues likely to dominate the debate.

Many experts predict Iraq will be the top issue in the 2008 campaign, much as it was when President Bush won re-election in 2004.

"The war is the overriding issue," said Allan Lichtman, a presidential historian at American University in Washington, D.C. "Whenever there is a war that becomes the issue for a generation. Unless of course there is a recession and that might overshadow the war, but nobody knows whether that is going to happen or not."

Some Republicans believe the improved security situation in Iraq could help whoever becomes the Republican Party's presidential nominee next year. But Lichtman believes the Democratic nominee will have an advantage with independent voters going into the 2008 campaign.

"The recent situation may have slightly improved for the administration, but that has mainly moved Republicans," he said. "It has not moved Democrats at all and has not caused much movement among independents. And Republican votes [alone] are not going to be good enough for a presidential candidate [to win] in 2008."

Iraq remains a central issue in the battle for the Democratic Party nomination where Senator Hillary Clinton of New York continues to lead the field in public opinion polls.

Some of Clinton's rivals question her initial support of the war.

"It has not faded as an issue among Democratic activists," said Stephen Wayne, a professor of government at Georgetown University in Washington. "It has faded as a salient issue among the country for the simple reason that the Congress is divided and the Democrats do not seem to be able to win any votes and there seems to be a pessimism that there is no way they can stop Bush, and that the only way to change Iraq is when we have a new president."

Iraq, Iran and other foreign policy issues are getting a lot of attention on the campaign trail, especially in early voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire.

"The war in Iraq and the war on terror and Iran and nuclear weapons are things that are looming in front of people and they are concerned about it," said Arthur Sanders, a political scientist at Drake University in Iowa. "You know, when candidates go to these [voter] forums, they get asked about that."

Those same issues are being discussed in New Hampshire as well. But Democrats there are also concerned with supporting a candidate who can win the general election in November of 2008.

"So, you see Iraq, but also typical Democratic concerns such as health care, for example, are on the list," said Dante Scala, who lectures on politics at the University of New Hampshire. "But given that candidates wind up having more or less similar positions on a host of issues, I think it does come down to factors such as personality and perceived electability."

Many experts believe the mix of issues at the moment favors the Democrats.

"They [Democrats] have many advantages, not least that we have had one party in power for eight years," said Larry Sabato, who directs the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. "Americans like to change, normally, after eight years, but we do not always do it. Second, there is no question that the president's unpopularity, which stems mainly from Iraq but also from (the response to Hurricane) Katrina and other events is going to be an albatross around the neck of any Republican nominee."

But Republican strategists say that the Democrat's advantage on the issues could change if the focus of the campaign turns to national security and the war on terror.

"The way that they [Republicans] might [gain an advantage] would be to paint a Democrat as being weak or inexperienced on foreign policy in general, not just Iraq, and the war on terror," said John Fortier, who monitors presidential politics at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.

Illegal immigration is another issue that could ignite passions in both the early primaries and in the general election campaign.

"Immigration has been an issue that has erupted periodically, and I think as an undercurrent is quite important," said Steffen Schmidt, a professor of political science at Iowa State University. "It is not as visible as some of the other issues on a day to day basis, but I know from talking to many activists that it is very, very important."

Recent national surveys suggest the war in Iraq and domestic concerns about health care, the economy and jobs top the list of voter priorities as the election cycle approaches.

In our final report in the series, a look at the possibility of a major third party candidate in next year's election.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Mass Grave Exposes Entrenched Trafficking in Thailandi
X
May 05, 2015 5:50 PM
Police in southern Thailand have found two more camps believed to have held human trafficking victims -- one containing a buried skeleton. This comes just days after officials announced arrests in connection with the grisly discovery of 26 bodies in a mass grave at another location. Officials suspect as many as 400 mostly ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar were being held for ransom at the remote camp near the Malaysian border. Steve Sandford reports on developments in the case.
Video

Video Mass Grave Exposes Entrenched Trafficking in Thailand

Police in southern Thailand have found two more camps believed to have held human trafficking victims -- one containing a buried skeleton. This comes just days after officials announced arrests in connection with the grisly discovery of 26 bodies in a mass grave at another location. Officials suspect as many as 400 mostly ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar were being held for ransom at the remote camp near the Malaysian border. Steve Sandford reports on developments in the case.
Video

Video Russia's 'Victory Day' Glory Over Nazis Overshadowed by Ukraine

ussia is preparing to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, known since the Soviet era as “The Great Patriotic War,” with a massive parade on May 9th of military hardware and millions of medals handed out to veterans or their relatives. But critics say the Soviet-style display of power and nationalism overshadows tragic scars during and after the war that still influence politics and foreign policy, especially in the current Ukraine crisis.
Video

Video WWII Anniversary Brings Old Friends and New Worries

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II has special significance, with Russia becoming more assertive in Ukraine and sending its military planes to the edges of western countries’ airspace. Changes in the geostrategic balance and the transatlantic relationship are felt across the continent, not least in German towns that have hosted U.S. military bases since the defeat of Nazi Germany. VOA’s Al Pessin visited Schweinfurt, Germany, where a large base closed last year.
Video

Video Abraham Lincoln Funeral Re-created for 150th Civil War Anniversary

Over the last four years, commemorative events to mark the 150th anniversary of the U.S. Civil War have brought thousands of visitors to battlefields and historic landmarks across the country. As VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, the final event in the Civil War's sesquicentennial honors the final journey home of the slain American President, Abraham Lincoln.
Video

Video Campaign Raises Money to 'Uncuff' Journalists

Beginning Sunday – World Press Freedom Day – the Committee to Protect Journalists, a private U.S. group, is launching a campaign to bring attention to their plight and encourage efforts to free them. Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Volunteers Pull Together to Aid Baltimore Riot Victims

Calm has returned to Baltimore, Maryland, after authorities lifted an overnight curfew imposed almost a week ago to stem the rioting that followed the funeral of Freddie Gray - the 25-year-old black man who died of spinal injuries suffered while in police custody. Six police officers, three of them African-American, have been charged in connection with his death. Baltimore is now trying to get back to normal, in part with the help of volunteers who responded to calls to help those in the city'
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Obama Praises Work of 3 Immigrant Journalists

President Barack Obama met with three immigrant journalists at the White House Friday to praise them for their work ahead of World Press Freedom Day, May 3. In attendance: Dieu Cay (his pen name) a blogger from Vietnam recently released from prison; Lily Mengesha from Ethiopia who was harassed and detained for exposing the marrying off of young girls as child brides, and Fatima Tlisova, an ethnic Circassian from the North Caucasus region of Russia, who works for VOA's Russian Service.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.

VOA Blogs