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Seeking the Oval Office? Get Out of DC

Now that Hillary Rodham Clinton has settled on a Virginia-based headquarters for her presidential campaign, 2008 might be that rarest of races: one where no major presidential campaign is headquartered in DC.

Barack Obama is heading back to Chicago for his headquarters—much to the delight of staffers who now find themselves living in apartments with sweeping views of Lake Michigan for much less than they paid in DC.

After ruling out returning to Michigan or Utah, Mitt Romney has rented campaign space in Boston’s North End (the lease runs through next winter’s primary season). Rudy Giuliani, should he get serious about the race, would presumably be in New York.

After selling his Georgetown home, John Edwards and his campaign are back in North Carolina, where his new 28,200-square-foot compound, complete with a squash court, basketball court, and swimming pool, is drawing controversy.

Pricey downtown DC rents forced the Clinton campaign from the District across the river to Ballston. People there may find themselves playing second fiddle to powerful New York–based advisers like Howard Wolfson.

Farther south in Arlington, John McCain’s campaign is setting up in an office building on the mysterious “M floor,” the renamed 13th floor.

There might be a good reason for staying outside of the District: Campaigns based in DC don’t have a good track record. John Kerry’s headquarters were in downtown DC near McPherson Square in 2004, Al Gore in 2000 shook up his campaign operations by moving from the Beltway back to Nashville to help get more in touch with the public, and Bob Dole lost with a DC-based headquarters in 1996, as did incumbent president George H.W. Bush in 1992.

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