George Will: Presidential Race Up for Grabs

MIAMI BEACH, FL — The race for the White House is going down to the wire and beginning to resemble the disputed 2000 election, Washington Post columnist George Will said at yesterday's American Teleservices Association 2004 Convention & Expo.

With polls showing voters split evenly between President Bush and Democratic Sen. John Kerry, the campaign is too close to predict a victor, Will said. Meanwhile, political incivility is at an all-time high as the campaign is marked by negativity from both sides.

“What are we arguing about?” he asked. “Why the bitterness? I don't understand it.”

The level of anger shared between Republicans and Democrats is perplexing because differences between the two parties are decreasing, Will said. The old argument about whether the government should be large or small is mostly over, with both parties supporting the two largest government programs, Social Security and Medicare.

Democrats have enormous reservoirs of public support, and if Kerry retains the 20 typically Democratic states, he would need only 10 more electoral votes to win, Will said. However, Democrats have had trouble gaining credibility on national security matters for more than 30 years.

And Kerry, a U.S. senator from Massachusetts, does not have history on his side, Will said. Only three senators who ran while still in office have ever won the presidency, and the last successful presidential candidate from the Northeast was John F. Kennedy.

Will, who also writes humor and is the author of several books about baseball, intermingled much of his speech with quotes and anecdotes from baseball lore.

“I only write about [politics] to support my baseball habit,” he said, “which, as a Cubs fan, I'm beginning to get over.”

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