Is Dodd Next White House Hopeful?

000426 earlyshow sen. christopher dodd
By's Jennifer Hoar

It seems like every time you turn around, someone else is considering, contemplating and intimating that he (or she) is going to run for president in 2008.

Biden, and Clinton and Warner, oh my! They've been on the brain and the lips of presidential prognosticating pundits for a while now — so it's always interesting when a new "potential" candidate emerges.

The latest name to go up on the "Definitely Evaluating-Maybe Intending-Hardly Declaring A 2008 Bid" marquee is that of Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn.

Dodd faced the White House question Wednesday on Don Imus' nationally syndicated radio show. Dodd said he's fundraising as well as "visiting people in various parts of the country, [and] getting organized," He sounded purposefully exploratory and optimistic in his approach, saying he was "doing what I got to do to try and get ready to make an announcement after the first of the year if things go well."

If Dodd's fundraiser in Washington last month is any indication, it's an understatement to say that things are going "well." He raked in close to $1 million at that event alone.

Dodd also has started hiring more political staff — and has done so very strategically. Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post confirmed Thursday that Dodd has brought on former Democratic National Committee and and Howard Dean adviser Maura Keefe to focus on operations in early states, including New Hampshire and Iowa.

Wise to the fact that you can't run for the White House without money — lots of money — Dodd has also hired three staffers to enhance his fundraising efforts in the coming months, Cillizza reported.

Last but not least, Dodd's forthcoming trip to Florida tells us something. When politicians' itineraries take them to significant electoral destinations like New Hampshire, Iowa, Ohio and Florida, political observers begin to wonder about what sorts of plans they have percolating.

When Dodd goes to Fort Lauderdale to address the "Lawton Chiles Luncheon" at the Florida Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson gala on July 22, he will be making his first non-Senate related trip outside of Connecticut. He'll be following in the footsteps of the ubiquitous Sen. Joseph Biden, a potential future competitor for the 2008 Democratic nomination who spoke at the 2005 dinner.

"This is a big opportunity for him to introduce himself to active Florida Democrats," Florida Democratic Party press secretary Mark Bubriski said. "People in Florida are eager to meet and learn more about Senator Dodd."

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, another Democrat whose name has been circulated for White House candidacy, and retired Gen. Wesley Clark, who ran for the Democratic nomination in 2004 and may run again in 2008, will also be guests at the dinner, so Dodd won't have the audience all to himself. Even so, it is not a paltry beginning on a possible path to a run for the presidency.