The Connecticut senator will need all of that effortless charm, that eagerness to engage people and that passion for Democratic causes as he launches his campaign for the nation's highest office.
Conventional wisdom says the 62-year-old senator is a second-tier candidate for the presidency. He barely registers 1 percent in most polls, when he registers at all.
Many political observers have deep doubts about Dodd's candidacy. They say he may not be able to raise the enormous amount of money he'll need. They say that he's a New England liberal and that he can't distinguish himself and his views from better-known candidates. But others warn he should not be counted out.
"This race is pretty wide open," said Joseph F. Keefe, a former New Hampshire Democratic chairman. Keefe supports Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kerry, but his sister, Maura, is a key Dodd strategist.
Dodd could have traction, Joe Keefe said, because "there are concerns about each of the major candidates." Is New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton electable? Is Illinois Sen. Barack Obama ready for prime time? Can people see John Edwards as a wartime president?
Chris Dodd, the former general chairman of the National Democratic Party and a 32-year congressional veteran, is bilingual and has international experience. In short, he has a golden resume. It's "a big positive," Keefe said.
Dodd knows where he stands and is happy to roar about it. "One succeeds when one learns to be oneself in politics," said Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who is running Dodd's Connecticut campaign. "That's what Chris Dodd is able to do."
Before Dodd's announcement last week I took some time to research his positions and voting record. Democrats could do a lot worse. But he's also got to show us something. Announcing on Imus didn't help, nor did his appearance on Meet the Press this weekend.
Is anyone here excited about Dodd yet? What would he have to do/say to catch your interest?
Lightman, David. "Dodd's Quest: A Long Haul". Hartford Courant. 1/17/07