The Washington Post interviewed some 25 prominent Republicans including several in the White House and Gephardt was portrayed as the candidate best prepared and best positioned to defeat President George Bush next year.
The reasons the GOP leaders gave were: Gephardt supported the Iraq war, he has the strongest union support, he has a health care plan and he comes from the Midwest where many believe the election will be decided, the Post said.
"People are saying Gephardt is the biggest threat," Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., finance chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, told the Post.
While the Republicans all predicted Bush would win re-election, those in the GOP said the president could be vulnerable because of job losses in key states, uninsured workers, steel tariffs and the president's standing in the Midwest.
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