Can Carol Moseley-Braun Be President?

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Carol Moseley Braun tests the waters for a Democratic presidential bid

Does Carol Moseley-Braun have any chance of becoming President? The nation's first black female Senator, who was defeated in 1998, announced this week that she's forming an exploratory committee for the Democratic nomination. Her plan is to run as a fiscal conservative vehemently opposed to war in Iraq. "The issue is national security," Moseley-Braun tells TIME. "And bombing Iraq into oblivion isn't the answer."

She will face an uphill battle. Six candidates have a head start, and Representative Dennis Kucinich, the former Cleveland mayor, joined the race this week, taking his share of the antiwar vote. What's more, the ex-Illinois Senator had a rocky D.C. tenure. Among the potholes: her frequent visits with Nigeria's military government. (Those questions were raised and answered when she was confirmed to be ambassador to New Zealand in 1999, she says.) The smart money bets the 55-year-old will never rise higher than an asterisk in the polls. Still, primaries are volatile. One of Moseley-Braun's advisers, Kitty Kurth, worked for Paul Tsongas in 1992 when the ex-Senator went from punch line to winner of the New Hampshire primary. "Paul did it; Carol might do the same," says Kurth. Of course Tsongas eventually wound up a footnote, losing his party's nod to Bill Clinton.