Pignanelli: That sweet smell many politicos are sniffing is not LaVarr's new cologne. It is the scent of predicted Democrat victories across the country (including Utah) in 2008. While the odor may be repugnant to Republicans (and LaVarr's wife) its existence cannot be denied.

Most polling organizations have the major Democrat presidential candidates leading Republican candidates in national surveys. GOP strategists in Washington are conceding in public they will not retake the Senate in November. Further, because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is not the demon of Tom Foley (ex-congressman who text messaged teenagers) the public will not be as energized to dump the incumbents. All Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama need are the states John Kerry carried, plus a small one like New Mexico ( where Kerry garnered 49 percent), to win the general election. Politicos are noting the huge crowds of excited supporters and voters that Clinton and Obama are attracting.

Republican problems are still compounding. One must dig deep inside Republican candidates' speeches to find one nice thing said about President Bush (still unpopular with over two-thirds of the country). For years, the GOP mantra was the easy to remember "Low Taxes, Less government." Conservatives laugh at such claims today. National Republicans are confused and lack a coherent message — they're acting like Democrats of the past.

Utah Democrats' olfactory senses are also excited and have recruited top notch legislative candidates, even in Utah County. Further, with Ralph Becker as the new and more palatable Salt Lake City mayor, local Democrats are no longer burdened with a PR disaster.

Democrats will gain only if they do not self-destruct (a big "IF"). Clinton and Obama are now engaged in stupid, pointless arguments.

Congress is more despised than Bush, and the public perceives little benefit from the 2006 elections. Indeed, current Democrat advances exist from Republicans' trouble, not for any great ideas the party is forwarding. (Clinton and Obama are attracting crowds because of their personal characteristics and personalities, their platforms are secondary). Thus, Democrats can do well this year if they can run out the clock by avoiding fouls and turnovers.

• Two weeks ago, I detailed Mitt Romney's declaration to a Boston reporter in December of "I don't know that he (God) has spoken to anyone since Moses and the bush or perhaps some others." A number of readers expressed skepticism (some were actually courteous in their disbelief). You can watch Romney disavowing millennia of Judeo-Christian beliefs on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DK

qjrmb7YSPM, or plug in Romney and Moses on Google for other sources.

Webb: That odor Frank is smelling isn't my cologne. It's the rancid race for the Democratic nomination. It's true that Democrats today are enthusiastic. They are united in their hatred of Bush, and they're turning out in record numbers at primaries and caucuses. It's true that Republicans are demoralized, lack energy, aren't motivated to vote and are divided into three camps (economic Republicans, values Republicans and national security Republicans). Republicans have no standard-bearer and aren't likely to have one until summer. Meanwhile, their two-term president is highly disliked, he waged an unpopular war and the economy is crumbling around him.

In other words, everything is lining up perfectly for the sweet smell of a big Republican victory in November. We have those pesky Democrats exactly where we want them!

Remember you read it here: Republican disarray will give way to Republican unity and strength by summer. The reason is that Republicans have a secret weapon — Hillary/Bill Clinton. As the favorite to win the Democratic nomination, the Clinton duo (you can't separate them) will bring Republicans (and a lot of moderates and independents) together as never before. Citizens who have seldom been involved in politics suddenly become activists to vote against HillBillary.

The American people simply will not stomach another four (or eight) years of Hillary and Bill, especially after their scorched earth performance against Obama. It won't matter if the Republican nominee is John McCain or Romney. The three Republican camps will put aside their differences to vote against HillBillary. Romney is clearly the best candidate. He will move successfully to the middle to attract moderates. Despite McCain's appeal to independents, he's too much yesterday's news, too much a part of establishment Washington. That goes double for HillBillary.

Voters are looking for a fresh start, for a clean slate. They're looking for someone they like, someone who can bring the country together. Obama has that capability, but he won't survive the HillBillary Death Star attacks.

In 2008, both in Utah and nationally, voters will select candidates who are moderate, mainstream, pragmatic and not ideologically-driven. They're looking for problem-solvers who will build bipartisan coalitions to tackle the real problems facing the country. With strong leadership, there's no reason we can't become energy independent. No reason we can't reform the health system. No reason we can't shore up Social Security and Medicaid. No reason we can't keep our economy strong and prepare our children for good-paying jobs in the Knowledge Age. The Republican nominee will provide that leadership. HillBillary won't.


Republican LaVarr Webb was policy deputy to Gov. Mike Leavitt and Deseret News managing editor. He now is a political consultant and lobbyist. E-mail: [email protected]. Democrat Frank Pignanelli is Salt Lake attorney, lobbyist and political adviser. A former candidate for Salt Lake mayor, he served 10 years in the Utah House of Representatives, six years as House minority leader. Pignanelli's spouse, D'Arcy Dixon Pignanelli, is a Utah state tax commissioner. E-mail: [email protected]