This is especially notable since the Democrats have driven their one executive candidate from the race. We are electing a President, not a Prime Minister.
It was fascinating to watch the three top contenders for the Democratic nomination discuss their concept of the presidency during Tuesday night's MSNBC debate in Las Vegas. But it was also stunning to realize that the three current and former senators who have survived the shakeout process -- Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards -- have not a day of chief executive experience behind them.
By contrast, the Republican field is loaded with people who are accustomed to being in charge of large organizations. Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee were governors of their home states of Massachusetts and Arkansas, Rudy Giuliani served as the mayor of New York City, and John McCain, as he likes to remind audiences, commanded the largest squadron in the Navy air wing.
In the past, voters have preferred to entrust the White House to those with executive credentials. John Kennedy was the last sitting senator to be elevated into the presidency. Since then, the former governors of Georgia, California, Arkansas and Texas have dominated the list of successful candidates.
[Romney] began to regain his footing after Iowa, when he subordinated his ideological claim to being the conservative champion in favor of portraying himself as a tough-minded executive who could reform both laggard private businesses and swollen, ineffective government bureaucracies.
He drew a useful contrast to "broken" Washington, the home base of Senator McCain and two of his three Democratic colleagues -- Obama and Clinton. Edwards is a former senator.
Huckabee had made a similar case for himself, citing his decade of leadership in Arkansas. And Giuliani had asserted a record of accomplishment in rescuing New York from fiscal crisis and reducing the city's crime and welfare rates.
All of this places an unusually heavy burden on the three Senate Democrats to show they can do more than talk a good game of leadership -- and actually lead.
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