Chris Dodd, the senior Democratic Senator from Connecticut, announced he will join the widening field of candidates for the presidential nomination in 2008. 

Dodd has had over 30 years experience in Congress and has been a strong voice in the Democratic Party in the Senate, where he now serves as chairman of the committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. 

So far, Dodd’s entrance into the race though has failed to make a significant impact on the race for the Democratic nomination for president. The field is currently dominated by political heavyweights Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards, all of whom are more formidable opponents. 

All three of these candidates are members of the Senate, but Dodd’s experience in the Senate is ten years greater than the combined time in office of the top three presidential candidates. Lack of experience has already become a criticism of Obama, who has only served two years in the Senate. If Dodd can exploit this, he can vault himself into the top tier of presidential candidates.

There certainly are many factors that should make us seriously consider Chris Dodd’s candidacy.  Influential Sen. Ted Kennedy (D – Mass.) has recently announced he will back Dodd in the race. 

Most importantly, it appears that this run will be the last campaign that Dodd will run in. Dodd recently told the Federal Election Commission that he has no intention of running for re-election to the Senate in 2010, when his term expires. This frees him to use all of his resources, including campaign cash of nearly $2 million, to run a serious race.

Much like the 2006 midterm elections, ut has become clear that the 2008 race will still heavily focus on Iraq, with candidates on both sides of the aisle seeking to appeal to the majority of Americans that want to see a conclusion to the bungled war.  John Edwards recently held a high profile Martin Luther King Day speech in Harlem to promote his message on the war.

“If you’re in Congress and you know this war is going in the wrong direction, it is no longer enough to study your options and keep your own counsel,” said Edwards. “Silence is betrayal. Speak out, and stop this escalation now.” 

Senators Obama and Clinton have also positioned themselves against the war in their recent speeches and interviews, although Clinton voted for the war initially and has declined to renounce her vote.

It is Dodd though who perhaps has taken the most direct action among these candidates to stop the troop surge that President Bush and Sen. John McCain (R – Ariz.) have been the loudest spokesmen for. Whereas some in the Senate recently called for a non-binding resolution to renounce the escalation, Dodd has gone one step further; he introduced a bill that would require congressional approval for an increase in troop levels in Iraq. 

“Congress is a co-equal branch of government, and the time for blank checks is over,” Dodd told the Hartford Courant last week. “Congress needs to act urgently on this matter before we send additional troops into harm’s way.”

This would bring Congress to vote on a politically unpopular war, which would make difficult positions for lawmakers, especially those who face tough elections in 2008. The bill failed to gain a majority vote of the armed services committee, garnering a 6 to 15 vote, with half of the Democrats approving, and every Republican voting against it. Later, Dodd voted in support of a non-binding resolution against the escalation, which passed committee with a 12 to 9 vote.

The chances of Dodd receiving the Democratic presidential nomination appear distant at the moment, but clearly it is possible that that dynamic can change as the primary process plays out. Dodd certainly has the clout, experience and strong voice on the war in Iraq to his credit, but other strong candidates stand in his way right now.

John Nicosia is a junior history and politics double-major and is the president of College Democrats.

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