- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Attention White House hopefuls: Americans know what they want in a president and are already pining for a few distinct qualities.

Promise change in Washington and you’re in. Flirting with age 70 or an inside veteran of the lobbying wars? Downplay it. Are you a woman, divorced, wealthy or black? Few care — at least according to a Gallup survey released yesterday revealing the top 20 desirable presidential characteristics.

People are downright sick of the status quo, apparently.

At the top of the list: 93 percent of the respondents said someone who would “bring about change” in Washington is desirable. Business acumen was cited by 71 percent and military service by 58 percent.

Another 57 percent said they favor experience in the U.S. House or Senate in their president while 56 percent thought that “a lot of experience in Washington mattered.”

Half said that being a governor is a plus.

Two traits — affecting change and a solid Capitol Hill background — could complicate the Democratic roster, said Gallup pollster Joseph Carroll.

“This is of interest given the current positioning battle within the Democratic Party as challengers John Edwards and Barack Obama attempt to argue that they would bring about change in Washington as opposed to Hillary Clinton’s ‘business-as-usual-approach’ given her long tenure as a Washington insider,” he said.

Some findings communicated distressing news, perhaps, for Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who is 71.

The majority of the respondents — 52 percent — said a candidate who is 70 or older is “undesirable.”

The respondents also were not keen on those who had worked as government lobbyists. Fifty-two percent deemed that experience undesirable.

Waffling on issues (42 percent), limited political experience (46 percent) and “strained relationships” with children (45 percent) also were cited as undesirable traits.

Some characteristics were in neutral territory, the poll found. Whether the candidate was Catholic didn’t matter either way to 86 percent of the respondents. Divorce didn’t matter to 81 percent, and neither did race (77 percent), wealth (73 percent), being Mormon (71 percent) nor being a woman (68 percent).

Also, 58 percent said working as a lawyer is a neutral factor.

There were some partisan divides, however.

Among Republican respondents, 71 percent said military service would be a plus for the next president, compared with 49 percent of Democrats.

Only 8 percent of Republicans favor a female candidate; among Democrats, the number is 34 percent. And 55 percent of Republicans said being 70 or older isn’t a factor, compared with 31 percent of Democrats.

Six percent of Republicans said a member of a minority group would make a good president, compared with 17 percent of Democrats.

The poll of 1,001 adults was conducted Aug. 23 to 26, with a margin of error of four percentage points.

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