Indiana senator testing waters for 2008 U.S. presidential bid

Tuesday, August 23, 2005 Relatively unknown Indiana Senator Evan Bayh is taking steps to make a run for U.S. President during the 2008 election cycle. Bayh has formed a political action committee (PAC) and already is a leading money-raiser among Democratic party hopefuls. The Hoosier politician also is touting his appeal to traditionally republican voters.

Among the selling points Bayh points to in his likely 2008 bid is that he is a democrat who consistently wins elections in republican red states by appealing to moderate republican and libertarian-leaning voters.

A former leader and key figure in the Democratic Leadership Council moderate movement in the Democratic party that brought Bill Clinton to the national stage, Bayh is known as a Democrat who won with landslide margins of victory during both terms as Indiana's governor and two U.S. Senate runs in the traditionally Republican-voting state.

In an interview with the Terre Haute, Indiana Tribune Star newspaper, he noted Democratic former president Harry Truman as a role model. In recent news reports he also criticized the national Democratic Party image as being weak on national defense.

Critics point out this popularity with moderate republicans could be a liability for Bayh in the Democrat Primaries, which are traditionally controlled by left-leaning party activists, also referred to as "Progressives."

Organized money raiser

Between January and July 31, 2005, three years before the election, Bayh has raised $1.17 million for a potential 2008 bid--more than most potential 2008 presidential nominees. He out raised fellow democrats Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and John Edwards. Each, unlike Bayh, are well-known household names in the United States. Money-raising results by political action committees are reported to and released by the U.S. Federal Election Commission .

Clinton is widely considered the front runner, and Democratic money leader. She has focused her attention on reelection in 2006 to her New York U.S. Senate seat. For that campaign, she has raised $10 million.

Bayh is being beaten in the money-raising arena by Democratic party chairman Howard Dean, who raised $1.77 million in the first six months of the year. Dean has made a name for himself as an effective money-raiser for liberal causes. But Dean has bowed out of the 2008 race according to reports.

Bayh is trailing the top Republican 2008 presidential; hopeful, Sen. Bill Frist, considered a top Republican candidate for 2008, who collected $1.9 million in the first six months of 2005.