Lamar Alexander, a former governor of Tennessee, announced that he would seek to persuade the Republican Party that he is the man to defeat President Bill Clinton in November 1996. William Weld, the governor of Massachussets, killed off speculation he would run.
Mr Weld explained that he did not wish to become "an absentee father" to his five teenagechildren but he perhaps also judged that the times called for a man more radical than he.
Mr Weld is a fiscal conservative who favours the death penalty but is also a thoughtful New England patrician who reads Yeats in his spare time and favours gay and abortion rights - the kiss of death among the Republican faithful.
Mr Alexander, by contrast, is the bluff "family values" type. Yesterday, in an open-necked check shirt flanked by his wife and four children outside the courthouse in Blunt Co, Tennessee, he said he wanted to become President to set about a "people's revolution".
What Mr Alexander has in mind is shifting $200bn (£130bn) of federal money to the states and reducing congress in Washington to a part-time institution.
Every Republican is in favour of "downsizing" Washington these days but none is more zealous than Mr Alexander. What he most lacks is presentation skills. "In terms of making the charisma meter tick we need to do some work," one of his campaign team admitted last week.