The Faint Hoofbeats? That’s the Dark Horse

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HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON dashed to Iowa this weekend to hang an open-for-business sign on her new campaign operation. Barack Obama is besieged by admirers begging to join his team. And John Edwards has already dipped his toes into each of Iowa’s 99 counties — and started his second lap.

So is the Democratic stable too full for a dark horse presidential candidate to emerge?

The current thinking suggests that only famous candidates, Democrat or Republican, can seize their party’s nomination. But it has never been a wise bet to rule out the dark horse, a staple of American politics since James K. Polk went to the Democratic convention in 1844 and became the presidential nominee by accident after the favorite, former President Martin Van Buren, lost Southern support.

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