Gary Hart's return to the U.S. political trail has not impressed the British betting firm of William Hill, which has laid odds of 14-1 against his becoming the next American President.
In fact, said the British bookmakers, six and possibly seven other candidates--including evangelist Pat Robertson--have a better chance than the scandal-plagued former Colorado senator of succeeding Ronald Reagan in the White House.
In a year-end revision of odds, William Hill established Vice President George Bush as a clear favorite, at 13-8, to win the presidential election in November and keep the Republicans in power for at least four more years.
Second favorite is Senate GOP leader Bob Dole, at 2-1.
If New York Gov. Mario M. Cuomo runs, he would be a 3-1 choice to win, by far the best chance for the Democratic Party.
Otherwise, Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis, at 6-1 odds, is the Democrats' best hope, followed by Illinois Sen. Paul Simon and Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri at 11-1 each. Then came Robertson, at 12-1 and Hart at 14-1.
One surprise was Reagan's former Secretary of State Alexander Haig, who has suddenly become "heavily backed" and, as a result, his odds were shortened from 50-1 to 20-1, said a William Hill spokesman.
The spokesman had no immediate explanation for the surprise support for Haig.
The bookmaker quoted the odds on civil rights activist Jesse Jackson at 33-1, Sen. Albert Gore Jr. (D-Tenn.) and Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.) at 50-1, former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt at 66-1 and former Gov. Pierre S. (Pete) du Pont of Delaware the rank outsider at 100-1.