The Big Pitch: Has anyone come out of the election with their reputation enhanced?

JANET HARRIS - PR21, Chicago

JANET HARRIS - PR21, Chicago

JANET HARRIS - PR21, Chicago

Rarely do Americans shower praise on politicians, but a sure-fire way to win their gratitude is to graciously bow out of an awkward and potentially ugly situation. On November 7, Republican John Ashcroft of Missouri lost reelection by 48,000 votes to the late Mel Carnahan, who died in a plane crash just weeks before. The Democratic governor promised voters that Carnahan's wife would be appointed if the majority voted for the deceased.

Ashcroft had two legitimate reasons to contest the election: (1) never before has a senator been elected posthumously, and (2) the polls in St Louis remained open an hour later than the rest of the state, which probably benefited Democrats. The stakes were high: Ashcroft's victory would have meant a safe 51 Republican majority in the Senate. Instead, Ashcroft graciously conceded, raising his statesmanship-quotient by several points and earning the electorate's thanks with the next general election just two years away.

JERRY SCHWARTZ - G.S. Schwartz & Co, New York

Buddy Clinton gets my vote! Other than he, none of the national candidates, and certainly none of the media are suffering from an enhanced reputation.

Although the candidates, on the whole, conducted this recent election campaign with more gravitas and dignity than previous contests, no one really broke out of the pack and distinguished themselves with decency.

The media's role in calling elections will rightly continue to be debated, with the media now reporting what they earlier reported, revealing themselves to be the perfect perpetual motion machine.

ALEX PREVIDI - The MWW Group, East Rutherford, NJ

Sadly, no one has emerged from this national election with his or her reputation intact. Both parties are putting their interests ahead of the American people. Republicans, seizing the chance to occupy the White House for the first time in eight years, are measuring the drapes and rearranging the furniture before the final vote has even been certified. Democrats, trying to hold onto their last remaining branch of government, do not seem to want this election to end and are threatening legal action in Florida. Neither Gore nor George W. Bush is acting like our next president.

Instead, they seem petty and personal. Unfortunately, they are not asking what they can do for their country, but what their country can do for them.

GLENN KARWOSKI - Karwoski & Courage, Minneapolis, MN

In terms of politicians, I can't think of anyone whose reputation stayed intact. Everyone is taking shots now that it's come down to getting the lawyers involved. That's very accurate in what it says about our society; we're settling everything in court. If there's anyone whose reputation benefited, I'd say maybe Dan Rather just because he got credit for so many of those one liners he was tossing around. Obviously all the political consultants benefit because of the fees that they're paid. It makes a strong case for using expertise in that area as elections get closer.

The act of voting is going to be a winner as a result of this too. There were a lot of people who were disenfranchised, not interested in the process.

What this election has done is create a lot more interest.

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