The next President?

With Clinton fading and an election in 2000, would-be successors are already lining up. We offer an early form guide
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Al Gore

Born 31 March, 1948, Washington DC. Married to Mary Elizabeth ("Tipper"); three daughters, one son.

Congressman 1976-1984; senator 1984-1992; Vice-President, 1992-

THE JOB of Vice-President of the United States, as Lyndon B Johnson memorably commented, is not worth a bucket of warm spit. It involves a lot of funerals of foreign leaders, though it is, of course, a heartbeat away from the Presidency. But in practice, it is not much of a political platform. Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey and George Bush all sought, and won, the nomination to be President while they were Vice-President; only Bush succeeded. (Nixon won on a later effort.) Al Gore, to be fair, has been more involved in policy than some VPs, as was Mr Bush. He has been the point man on a number of issues, such as the information superhighway. In the past year, he has frequently been pushed centre stage by the White House. At the end of last year he took the step that everyone had expected, and he set his cap at the Oval Office itself. His father, who died recently, was a Senator, and young Albert Jr was born and grew up in Washington DC. By virtue of that, and his current occupation, he is the establishment. If the economy looks good, if there is no catastrophic foreign policy disaster, if his boss sees out the rest of his term without another "episode", his chances are good. Gore can joke about it now, but he is still wooden and not greatly loved by the voters. Money should be no problem, however, and in elections, money can buy you love.

Odds: evens favourite

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Born 26 October, 1947, Chicago, Illinois. Married to William Jefferson Clinton; one daughter. Lawyer; First Lady, 1992-

WHETHER YOU see her as Lady Macbeth of Pennsylvania Avenue or the new female archetype of success for the new millennium, you cannot ignore Hillary. Nearly as much time has been spent psychoanalysing her, and watching every move on television, as has been devoted to her husband. Once she disdained the idea of standing by her man; but that is just what she has done since the scandal over Monica Lewinsky broke a year ago. She outranks her husband in the polls, she is smarter and she could have had a glittering career without him. She has been touted for almost every job going - the most recent being the New York Senate seat which will be vacated by Daniel Patrick Moynihan in 2000. It is unlikely she will go for it. Clinton is alleged to have told Monica that when his term ended, so would the marriage.

Odds: 25-1

Bill Bradley

Born 28 July, 1943, Missouri. Married, to Ernestine; one daughter. Basketball player; senator for New Jersey, 1978-1996; academic, writer.

HE COULD have gone for it in 1988, when the memory of his landmark 1986 tax reform bill was still fresh in people's minds, but he didn't. He could have put himself up as a candidate in 1992, but instead he sat out the time as a Senator. In 1996, Bill Clinton stood again, so Bill Bradley didn't, returning to write, lecture and teach. This time, he thinks he has a shot, and he has already launched his exploratory committee. Bradley is an attractive, bright man with a glittering track record. Captain of the gold-medal winning Olympic basketball team in 1964, he played professionally for the New York Knicks from 1967 to 1977 before entering the Senate. But he may well have left it too late.

Odds: 20-1


George W Bush

Born 6 July, 1946. Married to Laura; two daughters. Businessman, Governor of Texas, 1994-

THE MOST familiar name on the ballot paper will undoubtedly be that of the son of the former President. He was re-elected Governor of Texas last year by a landslide, his victory built on a broad base that included the state's Hispanic vote as well as plenty of Democrats. He favours a broad church for the Republican Party, a kinder, gentler stance that echoes his father's moderate, old-fashioned Republicanism but is less patrician and more casual. The race for the Republican nomination would be his to lose, according to the opinion polls. A CNN/USA Today poll put Bush comfortably on top with 39 per cent to Elizabeth Dole's 17 per cent, Dan Quayle at 12 per cent and Steve Forbes at 7 per cent. He says he will decide on his candidacy in the spring, but he has already been canvassing for vice- presidential candidates. He may get squeezed by the candidates on his right; he has yet to see how the act plays outside Texas. Bush has repeatedly said he is worried about "the process" - the intense focus on the family and private lives of politicians in post-Clintonian America. He says that is because he is concerned about the impact of running on his wife and children, but there is plenty of speculation about what a young, single, wealthy air force pilot might have got up to in Houston in the 1970s. A successful candidate would need perhaps $20m by this time next year: Bush can do that quite easily, while many other candidates will find it considerably harder.

Odds: 9-4

Elizabeth Dole

Born 29 July, 1936, Salisbury North Carolina. Married to Robert Dole; no children. Official in Nixon administration; Secretary of Transportation under Ronald Reagan; Secretary for Labor under George Bush; President of the American Red Cross.

"ONCE OUR tortured involvement with this President ends ... once all those confessions and apologies and late arrivals and extra toppings and all- night cramming sessions are no longer our concern ... what sort of president will we want next?" asked Maureen Dowd, a columnist for the New York Times last week. "A control freak, of course. Someone who is all discipline and no spontaneity." That person, she said, was Elizabeth Dole. As Reagan's transport supremo, she was best known for introducing the stop lights that sit on the rear windows of American cars. She also led the crusade to raise the drinking age to 21. She is not a fun person, but then America and Republicans are not looking for fun, especially this time round. She gave a somewhat gushing speech to say farewell to the American Red Cross last week, and some pretty big clues about what she might do next. "At this important time in our national life, I believe there may be another way for me to serve our country," she said.

Odds: 8-1

Steve Forbes

Born 18 July, 1947, Morristown, New Jersey. Married, to Sabina; five daughters. President and chief executive officer of Forbes, Inc and editor- in-chief of "Forbes Magazine".

THE SON of the founder of Forbes Magazine, he is living proof that money cannot buy everything in America, but it can have a damned good try. He spent $37m of his own cash in 1996, made a name with his proposal for a flat tax, but failed because the party's right thought him soft on abortion and gay rights. He has shifted to the right since then, doing plenty of hard work among the party faithful, including taking Baroness Thatcher on a trip to Iowa. His political action committee, Americans for Hope, Growth and Opportunity, is active and focused. Forbes is now considered much more reliable by the grass roots. Money will not be a problem; indeed, he may well decline federal funds, which most of the other candidates will use, as it would mean limiting expenditure. However, as the columnist George Will argues, "voters rarely regard the presidency as an entry-level political job".

Odds: 8-1

Dan Quayle

Born 4 February, 1947, Indianapolis, Ind. Married to Marilyn. Lawyer, congressman 1976-80, senator for Indiana 1980-1988, Vice-President 1988- 92.

CONSIDERED a laughing stock outside America, and widely pilloried inside it. But he did not become Vice-President by being an idiot. He was a well-regarded senator from Indiana, the conservative arm of the party likes him, and most do not care if he thinks potato is spelt with an "e". They care more about people who share their values, will protect and promote them and that is how they see Quayle. Now based in Arizona, he has an action committee behind him, Campaign America, which spent large sums in the last election.

Odds: 40-1

John McCain

Born 1936, Panama Canal Zone. Married to Cindy; seven children. US Navy, congressman 1982-86, senator 1986- from Arizona.

McCAIN is considered one of the most honest men in politics. He led the fight last year to reform the snakepit of campaign finance, and proposed a bill that would have tied up the tobacco industry. Both were soundly defeated by his own colleagues, but they won him plaudits across the political spectrum. A Vietnam veteran, he spent five years in a prisoner-of-war camp. Democrats rate him as a possible threat to Al Gore, the only candidate apart from George W Bush they really rate. The electors who will choose the Republican candidate, however, are Republicans, not Democrats, and he probably lacks grass roots support. He is considered too independent- minded by many Republicans.

Odds: 25-1

Lamar Alexander

Born 3 July, 1940. Married, to Honey; two sons, two daughters. Businessman, Governor of Tennessee, US Education Secretary.

IN 1978, Lamar Alexander walked 1,000 miles across Tennessee to campaign for the governorship, wearing a famous plaid shirt that to him symbolised honesty and integrity. To many others, it was a plaid shirt. He tried to take it on the road again in 1996, without much success, when he ran for the Republican nomination. But you have to hand it to Mr Alexander: he is tenacious. The day after Bill Clinton swept the board in 1996, he was back on the telephone, canvassing for cash. His Campaign for a New American Century, paid out large sums to Republican candidates in Iowa and New Hampshire in the election last year, building some support for the day when these two states help to decide who gets momentum for the primary season. He has done a lot of spadework.

Odds: 8-1

Gary Bauer

Married to Carol; three children. Former official in Reagan administration, lobbyist/activist.

PROBABLY THE least well known outside (and even inside) the US, but don't count him out. He has connections, cash and conservative credibility. Mr Bauer has close ties with the religious right, through his Family Research Council and American Renewal, a conservative lobbying organisation. In particular, he is close to James Dobson, the eminence grise of the movement who has eclipsed Pat Robertson. His political action committee raised more than $2m last year, while the FRC amassed a hefty $14m. Mr Bauer quietly took leave of absence from both organisations last week, saying that he would announce a decision later this month. Now that John Ashcroft, the senator from Missouri, has withdrawn, Bauer could well be the standard bearer of the Christian right.

Odds: 66-1

Jack Kemp

Born: 13 July, 1935. Married to Joanne; two sons, two daughters. American football, 1957-69; Congressman for Buffalo, NY, 1971-1989; secretary of Housing and Urban Development, 1989-92.

IN HIS own biographical sketch, Mr Kemp describes himself as a "bleeding- heart conservative, Martin Luther King Jr Republican, the Republican Hubert Humphrey". He says of his own party's civil rights record: "We had a great history, and we turned it aside." He is a moderate in a year when moderation seems to be fashionable again. Probably his biggest political achievement was steering the 1981 tax cut through Congress, which endears him to the Republicans' economic conservatives. But Kemp, who has not declared his candidacy, was vice-presidential candidate to Bob Dole in 1996, a lacklustre year despite his energy. And he often appeared too unfocused, too individ- ualistic. And the Dole campaign badly alienated some of the party's religious right.

Odds: 20-1

Odds supplied by William Hill