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Hillary shouldn't set a move-in date to the White House just yet

Newt Gingrich, one of the most partisan Republicans in the nation, says there's an 80 percent chance the Democrats will win the White House in 2008. Gingrich believes the country feels let down by the Bush administration over Iraq, Katrina, illegal immigration and enormous federal spending. The former speaker of the House says the folks want change and that could very well mean Hillary in the White House.

For me, it is hard to imagine Sen. Clinton as president because, according to the polls, almost half of registered voters say they would never vote for her even if she ran against someone like Michael Moore. Her poll negatives are huge and, seemingly, intractable. But people do sit out elections, and if the Republicans don't put forth a dynamic candidate, Hillary could very well win by rallying her base while the opposition sulks.

Certainly, even far-left Democrats, who generally dislike Mrs. Clinton, would pull the lever in her direction the next time around. To elect another Republican would be unthinkable.

Republicans, however, are not so united. Many on the right are caught up in selective issues like abortion and gay marriage. If a candidate doesn't see things their way, they won't support that candidate, even if it's Hillary staring at them from across the divide.

There are two wild cards right now. If Iraq improves, the Democrats lose momentum on their big issue. So some Democrats are actually rooting against their own country in Iraq. That is dangerous territory, as the MoveOn.org blunder over Gen. Petraeus demonstrated.

Also, the far left is totally out of control in this country, and a smart Republican candidate will tie those loons around the necks of Hillary or Barack Obama. Few Americans want to see Rosie O'Donnell and George Soros spending the night in the Lincoln bedroom. Separately, of course.

What the Democrats do have going for them is the general feeling that Republicans are out of touch and hypocritical. Believe me, Sen. Larry Craig will find his way into some campaign ads, and it won't be pretty. But I think the presidential race will be much closer than many think. Sen. Clinton has a penchant for not answering direct questions and avoiding the non-partisan media. Twice she was asked if the MoveOn-Petraeus ad was appropriate. Twice she dodged the issue. I believe many voters will find her evasiveness off-putting.

In the end, unforeseen circumstances will dictate the election, and it will most likely come down to Florida and Ohio again. The Democrats have a powerful coalition of motivated black, Hispanic and white liberal voters. The Republicans must turn out all their crew, as well as convince 60 percent of independent voters that Hillary will turn the country into a socialistic nightmare. That is a very tough task.

So Speaker Gingrich is correct in listing the Democrats as the favorites in this crucial upcoming election. But, for the moment, the smart money is holding out. Stuff can and will happen. Hillary shouldn't be buying that inaugural gown just yet.

Veteran TV news anchor and author Bill O'Reilly is a host on Fox News. His "Radio Factor" can be heard weekdays from 1 to 3 p.m. on NewsTalk 1300 WIMO-AM.