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Draft Lou Dobbs effort begun

January 16, 2008 |  4:05 pm

A group dedicated to fighting illegal immigration today launched an Internet effort to cajole one of the most vocal and well-known advocates of that cause -- CNN's Lou Dobbs -- into the presidential race as an independent.

The website (found here) was set up by the Americans for Legal Immigration Political Action Committee (ALIPAC), headed by North Carolina resident William Gheen. He was prominently featured in a recent Wall Street Journal article that summed up speculation about a Dobbs run -- and served to add fuel to such talk.

The 62-year-old Dobbs, who over the years evolved from a fairly traditional financial correspondent for CNN to a full-throated advocate of economic populism, told the Journal he wasn't planning on a White House bid, saying he did not have either "the personality or nature to be a politician."

But then, in the best tradition of politics, he left the door open ...

 

a crack, saying, "I cannot say never."

Gheen and his group hope to knock the door off its hinges and get Dobbs into the presidential mix, citing his opposition to "amnesty" for illegal immigrants (i.e., any plan that does anything other than have those immigrants leave the U.S. for their home country, get in the back of line for returning and wait for however long that takes).

An ALIPAC release says it was officially starting its draft Dobbs effort because of "the possibility of a pro-amnesty candidate such as John McCain, Rudy Giuliani or Mike Huckabee winning the GOP primary, forcing American voters to choose between two pro-amnesty candidates" (i.e., anyone the Democrats nominate).

The website was established, the release says, "to allow people to express their political support for Lou Dobbs, to show Mr. Dobbs what kind of support is out there, and to have some supporters organized, if he decides to run."

Gheen, in the release, says 84% of his group's supporters reported they would support Dobbs this November "if the GOP primary fails to yield a candidate opposed to amnesty."

Today, Gheen elaborated on that number for us. He said it was based on the results of an electronic poll that drew responses from roughly 10% of those on the group's support list. In that survey, slightly more than 70% said they were prepared to support Dobbs immediately and almost 14% said they would do so if their current choice for president fails to get nominated.

The website surfaces a day after efforts intensified to draw New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg into presidential fray as an independent candidate.

Republican Doug Bailey, a onetime campaign consultant to former President Gerald Ford, and Democrat Gerald Rafshoon, a key aide to former President Jimmy Carter, are leading this charge, which they publicized Tuesday in Washington.

-- Don Frederick

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