There has been plenty of speculation about U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe forgoing a third term on Capitol Hill to run for the Blaine House in 2006.
But the White House in 2008?
The creator of a new Web site, www.OlympiaSnowe2008.com, is hoping for just that, using the site to build support for an effort to draft Maine’s senior senator to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.
While visitors can see limited information on the site now, the finished project will be unveiled early next week, according to its creator, Simon Dodd, a 25-year-old networks engineer from Indiana.
When reached Thursday, Dodd said his reasons for choosing Snowe were simple: His research suggested the moderate Republican, should she make it through what is expected to be a crowded primary, would prove the GOP’s most formidable candidate in the general election, particularly in Democratic-leaning or “blue” states.
“Olympia Snowe offers America and the Republican party a strong and unique voice from the center of politics,” Dodd argues on the site, a draft version of which was made available to the Bangor Daily News.
Dodd has never met Snowe. He does not agree with her on every issue – specifically citing Snowe’s support for abortion rights.
The site, both he and a Snowe spokesman are careful to note, is not sanctioned by the senator or her staff.
For her part, Snowe, whose 58th birthday fell on Presidents Day this year, issued the following statement Thursday.
“I’m very pleased and extremely appreciative that someone would take the time and effort because of my views and record in Congress to establish such a Web site,” said Snowe, who also has denied previous rumors she would run for governor.
“My only plans are to run for re-election to the United States Senate in 2006,” her statement continued.
Cyberspace has become home to other presidential recruitment sites in the past several years, including those for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Gen. Wesley Clark, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and independent Ralph Nader.
News of the Snowe site sent a wave of interest – and a fair amount of disbelief – through Maine political circles.
Richard Powell, a University of Maine political scientist and expert on presidential politics, said while Snowe’s reputation as a centrist has increased her stature in the Senate, it would hurt her chances in a GOP primary.
“That same moderation poses some significant challenges,” Powell said. “I think she would have difficulty appealing to conservatives, particularly in Southern states where a candidate has to do well.”
But Christian Potholm, a GOP analyst at Bowdoin College, said he was intrigued with the prospect of a Snowe candidacy. He agreed with Dodd’s assessment that Snowe would be particularly effective should Democrats, as some expect, choose another powerful woman as their nominee.
“I would put her up against Hillary Clinton any day,” Potholm said.
While a Maine presence on a presidential ticket could prove interesting, recruitment efforts such as the Snowe 2008 site rarely convince reluctant candidates to throw their hats into the ring, pundits say.
“They are almost never effective [in producing] a major candidate,” Potholm said. “They are more useful as a way to float somebody’s name out there.”
Precisely, Dodd said.
“My job is to run it up the flagpole, and we’ll see who salutes,” he said.