On one end of the line was Pat Caddell, pressing his case from a Washington pay phone. On the other end, in Wilmington, was the candidate's brother, telling Caddell he could not speak to Joe Biden right then.

"Jimmy, I want to talk to Joe," Caddell demanded into the phone. Jimmy Biden asked him what he wanted to say, offering to pass along Caddell's views.

"Jimmy, I want to talk to Joe! You have Joe call me!" Caddell repeated -- adding that he had known Joe for 15 years and didn't need anyone to screen his calls.

It was the night before Biden ended his presidential campaign. Caddell's man was done for, but the famed Democratic consultant wouldn't admit it -- and now he couldn't even get him on the phone. "You people have formed a vigilante group to get my candidate out of the race," he told press spokesman Larry Rasky during one of his many calls that evening.

In 1972, at the tender age of 21, Caddell had been the pollster for Biden's first Senate race; now he desperately wanted his friend to be president. But in the week after the story broke that Biden had borrowed part of a speech from British Labor leader Neil Kinnock, according to members of Biden's staff, Caddell didn't take disappointment well. He yelled at a reporter, argued with colleagues, refused to work within the organization and looked for scapegoats.

Concede nothing, he urged. Attack the press.

He lashed out at his former partners, consultants Robert Shrum and David Doak, who are working on Dick Gephardt's campaign. Shrum and Doak, Caddell erroneously charged to Biden staffers, had produced the "attack video" used to highlight Biden's rhetorical borrowings. Later, he apologized to the Gephardt campaign.

From the senator's conference room, he screamed on the phone at the New York Times reporter who had written the original Kinnock story. Three senior campaign officials who witnessed the argument say he hurled profanities and pounded the receiver against a table during the call. Caddell says he didn't swear at the reporter, and he denies pounding the phone.

Caddell is large and intense, with a prominent nose and a dramatic white streak wandering down one side of his dark beard, and his demeanor has always been theatrical. Still, the scene the staffers describe was more than ordinarily disturbing. "I had to leave the room," said one. The others concurred. Biden was horrified when he heard about the display, they say, and offered to phone the reporter with an apology.

Joe Biden had other reasons to be unhappy with his old friend. In a follow-up to the Kinnock story, he'd been accused of borrowing some of Robert Kennedy's language as well -- language Caddell had inserted into a Biden speech but inadvertently not attributed to RFK. But beyond that, campaign staffers say, Caddell seemed to be putting his own interests above the candidate's.

So the man Biden once said was "like a little brother" to him wasn't even there when he decided to give up his dream.

One week after Biden withdrew from the race, he met with Caddell in Wilmington and told him his advice would not be welcomed in any future political endeavor. Later, while declining to be interviewed on the subject, he offered the following statement through a spokesman: "The senator wants it to be known that he has no animosity toward Pat Caddell, but that he has ended his relationship with him."

Caddell said last week that he "loves" Biden and that their friendship is still on. The statement, he assumes, means only that "we don't have a professional relationship anymore."

Meanwhile, Caddell stories took on a life of their own in political Washington. Biden staffers, perhaps trying to shift blame from themselves, weren't shy about repeating them to the press. Campaign managers and aides for some of the remaining Democratic hopefuls jokingly assured each other that they had no plans to employ him. Said one: "Paul Kirk's 11th commandment for party unity should be that no one hire Caddell for the general election."

"It's sad," said Gerald Rafshoon, a former Caddell roommate who worked closely with him during the Carter years, "but people are putting garlic in their windows."

Whoever thought it would come to this? That after 15 years of high-voltage success working with George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, Gary Hart and Walter Mondale, not to mention Mario Cuomo, Bob Graham, Michael Dukakis, Paul Simon, Ted Kennedy and many more -- 15 years of being called "prodigy" and "genius" and "gifted" on the front pages -- the Boy Wonder would be out of this campaign before the first vote was cast?

Sitting in his Georgetown office Saturday night, however, Caddell puts a very different face on the situation.

"I read," he says, "that 'Democratic insiders say Pat Caddell is dead as a consultant' and I'm {saying to myself}, 'But I died already. I killed myself.'

"I killed myself! I am already dead!"

As proof, he produces a copy of his announcement, one year ago, that he was quitting elective politics. After considerable negotiation, he has agreed to an interview, which lasts three hours. He says he knows it's open season on him in some quarters, and even goes so far as to "apologize" to those he may have offended. But it is important to him that people understand one thing: The system is not rejecting him, he is rejecting it.

"At some point," he had explained earlier, "I feel like yelling, 'Watch my lips!' "

Caddell says people in Washington will believe anything about him. "There's a laugh-test standard here, a point where someone hears something ridiculous about somebody and they laugh and say, 'That's not true.' In my case, they just believe it."

He's right. Last spring, after the Donna Rice/Gary Hart fiasco, there was immediate speculation that Caddell had a part in bringing the story to light, and Caddell said in a recent New York Times interview that other political operatives had accused of him having a role. Caddell has ridiculed such talk, and no information has developed to support it, but it demonstrates the depth of anti-Caddell feeling.

Says Jody Powell, one of Caddell's consistent defenders: "It's like this guy is not human, so people can say anything they want ..."

And they do.

He's become the butt of jokes such as: "He's like Jason in 'Friday the 13th' -- you can't kill him, he just keeps coming back" (this from a former partner with a definite ax to grind). "Bloom County" recently lumped him with Tammy Faye Bakker, Boy George and Ling-Ling among celebs whose careers could stand "a little shoring up." U.S. News & World Report declared him finished. The Washington Monthly slapped his name on the cover along with those of four other Washington insiders. The message? "DON'T HIRE."

He's given all this a lot of thought, he says -- but his friends maintain he still doesn't get the point.

"The tragedy of the Caddell story is that his personal actions have so corrupted his professional contribution that he may not be able to survive professionally," says Robert Beckel, who worked with Caddell during the Mondale campaign.

No one would use words like "tragedy" about Caddell, of course, if it weren't for the scope of that "professional contribution." And no smart politico will write him off when he's down -- indeed, few would even talk about him on the record. Because at 37, Pat Caddell has the kind of skills that can bring him back from the grave again and again.

His polls -- and more important, his reading of them -- have been the core of highly regarded strategies for four presidential campaigns. He often seems to have an instinctive sense of where the electorate is, honing in particularly on what he likes to call the voter's "sense of alienation." Says Bill Schneider, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute: "His genius was to figure out how to first attract this alienated vote and then turn it into an antiestablishment campaign."

"His preparation of Mondale for his first debate with Reagan was nothing short of brilliant," says Tom Donilon, who worked with Caddell during the Mondale and Biden campaigns. "He had it right down to what Mondale's body language should be."

Says media consultant Robert Squier: "I made a last broadcast for Carter on election eve in 1976, and I couldn't have done it without Caddell ... He knew what doubts people had ... They wanted to see Carter stronger, so at Caddell's suggestion, I moved foreign policy high on the program. It was one of the times where you saw Caddell at his best."

No consultant can win them all, and Caddell has been associated with his share of nightmares. He helped draft Carter's ill-fated "malaise" speech in 1979, approved some negative ads in 1984 that seriously hurt Gary Hart in Illinois, and advised Coca-Cola while it was introducing New Coke (though his role in that ill-fated venture has been exaggerated).

Yet ironically, a controversial Caddell memo to Carter -- in which he wrote that "too many good people have been defeated because they tried to substitute substance for style" -- could serve as a description of his own problems today. His substance has been appreciated. It's his style that has done him in.

Nine years after Pat Caddell saved that Carter broadcast, Squier says, he recommended to Florida Gov. Bob Graham that he not rehire the pollster to handle his upcoming Senate race. "He had become difficult," Squier says. "I needed someone with his eye on the ball."

Now Squier likes to say: "I've been his friend and I've been his enemy and it takes less energy to be his enemy."

Caddell's may be the quintessential Washington tale of a young man who wanted to change the world, but rose too far too fast. As a result, former associates surmise, he soon stopped seeing himself as a mere pollster or adviser and began seeing himself as a maker of history, looming larger than his campaigns and his clients.

For all his political acumen, some say, he failed to grasp that he'd succeeded in what is essentially a very small arena. When his influence waned, so did people's tolerance, because he didn't play by that arena's established rules -- rules like patience, hand-holding, sharing credit, massaging the media. With Caddell, it sometimes seemed that all successes were his successes; all failures belonged to someone else.

His temper became legendary. Stories are told, over and over, by veterans of past campaigns: of screaming fights ending with a standard refrain of "I'll ruin you!" or "You're finished!" Of intimidating calls, doors slamming shut, phones slamming down. "He scars you," says one recipient of the Caddell Treatment.

Not everyone sees him this way. Christie Hefner, Caddell's date for the 1977 inaugural, says he has always been a good friend. Former Kennedy speech writer Richard Goodwin says Caddell is brighter than most everybody else, but won't last long "in an environment where the ability to get along is prized over excellence and achievement." One friend, Mike McAdams, who worked with Caddell in the early '70s, emphasizes that "with Pat you have to know how to pick out the pearls ..."

But even those favorably disposed to him sometimes punctuate their remarks with comments like: "He brings it on himself" or "I've tried to tell him, but ..."

Fred Schultz, the former Florida state representative who gave Caddell his first job in politics, describes his prote'ge' as "very difficult.

"Pat's people skills are not his strongest," Schultz says. "He makes people feel stupid ... He's often right, but when he does make a mistake, they are right there to tell him ... I've tried to tell him he's got these problems, but he always has a 'but' ..."

Caddell himself offers three reasons for the animosity: first, his antiestablishment ideas, which he says people are threatened by; second, professional jealousy, because he has been "fairly successful"; and third -- yes, he admits, he has acted badly on occasion. "You can't be as controversial as I have gotten to be unless you have done a lot to stir the pot yourself," he says. "... I made some real mistakes."

But during the interview, he comes back to reasons one and two. He has been harsh sometimes, he says, because that has been his job. He has been a hired gun, paid to get things done. And you can't get things done by rolling over.

"It is more than just my personality," he insists. "One thing logic dictates: People don't become obsessed the way they have become obsessed with me. People don't say the kind of things -- it doesn't work itself into a frenzy if it's just my personality. There has to be something deeper.

"I'm not going to say I wish I had not acted the way I acted in some campaigns ... But I couldn't have had a career in this business if I couldn't work with people. In fact, I couldn't function at all."

"Look," he had explained in an earlier phone call, "I'm willing to stand up and say the emperor has no clothes ... That threatens institutions and established relationships. It's one thing when you're just out there and have no effect. It's quite another to match it with action. Any time people sense you can get things done, it's nitroglycerin."

Patrick Hayward Caddell was born in South Carolina into an Irish Catholic family. As the son of U.S. Coast Guard officer, his childhood was spent in various base towns like Falmouth, Mass. Like many children his age, Caddell was inspired by the Kennedys. When his family lived in Falmouth, they would go to Otis Air Force Base and greet John Kennedy when he landed on the Cape. Bobby Kennedy, he says now, is his true hero.

Caddell's remarkable facility with numbers first surfaced when, as a high school project in Jacksonville, Fla., he developed a model to project election winners. On election night, he took it down to the state election office, and as candidate after candidate came in looking for their results, Caddell would say things like, "You just carried the most Republican district in the city ... you're in."

He was a phenomenon within days. Fred Schultz, who was about to become speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, offered him a job, and by 1968, he had outlined an intricate redistricting plan. "Youth Saves Districts Plan," screamed a local headline.

Caddell's yearbook shows him as a class leader: president of the student body, member of the National Honor Society and of various clubs. But interviews with several former classmates reveal him as a somewhat lonely boy who never dated much. Schoolmates who helped him with his polling also say he could be difficult. "Patrick was an individual that had to have business done his way," says one.

Says Hugh Kelly, who married Fred Schultz's daughter and still maintains a friendship with Caddell, "He had a certain style of always looking out for number one ... He showed a certain drive that was beyond the rest of us." Caddell not only had drive, Kelly adds, "but he had goals that were marked by strong admiration for the Kennedy ideals. He wanted to make things better."

The summer of his senior year, Caddell's father retired to Charleston, S.C. Wanting to keep his job, Caddell showed up on Schultz's doorstep with his suitcase. Schultz gave him a bed.

"Well, he worked for me that summer, then went to Harvard and then came back for Christmas and Thanksgiving breaks," says Schultz, who remains fond of Caddell. "The long and short of it is, he stayed with us for four years ... His parents were very understanding. His mother recognized that Pat had an extraordinary mind ... We're a family with a broad range of interests."

Kelly says the family joke was that Caddell "was the man who came to dinner and stayed.

"It was kind of strange and everyone thought it was strange," he adds, laughing. "Here was this affluent family, with a house and a pool on the river -- with huge oak trees -- the whole thing. Who wouldn't want to live there? The difference is, Pat just did it."

Few close to Caddell seem to have met his parents: not Jody Powell, who considers Caddell a friend; nor Jerry Rafshoon, who lived with him; nor Dottie Lynch, who worked for him for seven years; nor Tom Donilon, who has known him for 10.

"It was at least two years into Harvard before I realized the Schultzes were not his adoptive parents," says John Gorman, a college classmate and Caddell's first business partner. "I thought he was an orphan ... I had no idea there were two other living people somewhere."

Asked about this, Caddell says his parents have only been to Washington once. They simply don't travel much, he says, and he usually goes to Charleston to see them. He recently purchased a house for them there.

"Do I have a relationship with my family? I have a very good and loving relationship with my family," he says angrily. "I'm lucky I have two families, in a sense."

Then he say, "Isn't this going a little far? They don't ask presidential candidates those kinds of questions, frankly."

His senior year at Harvard was a heady time for Pat Caddell. Schultz guaranteed a $25,000 loan so he could start a polling firm with two classmates.

In the fall of 1971, a mutual acquaintance hooked him up with Gary Hart, then George McGovern's campaign manager. Hart paid Caddell's firm $500 to do a poll in New Hampshire; it showed that Edmund Muskie's blue-collar support was thin. "So we sent McGovern into the factories," recalls McGovern aide Frank Mankiewicz. The Harvard whiz kid "applied a whole new dimension to surveys," Mankiewicz says. "If we wanted to know McGovern's following among divorced women with second homes who also collected rocks, Pat Caddell could tell us that."

Caddell first pitched his "alienation" theories at this time, urging McGovern to continue his anti-Vietnam War campaign. He soon found himself on national television explaining why his candidate was winning primary after primary. A lot of the credit stuck to him.

Coming off the McGovern campaign into the 1974 congressional races, he was one of the hottest pollsters in the business. A year later, Jimmy Carter signed him up -- which was seen as a coup for the unknown Georgian. Caddell was 25 years old.

Carter fit perfectly into Caddell's theory that voters are sympathetic to an outsider. He didn't have to remake Carter into a populist farmer, from the South, with no Washington ties, but he helped define him for the voters. His polls tested specific levels of alienation in various segments of the electorate, as well as negative feelings toward other candidates.

The Georgian's victory brought Caddell to the height of his power. Never in history had a public opinion analyst enjoyed such an intimate relationship with a president.

Fairly or unfairly, however, he is most remembered for his part in the crafting of Carter's "malaise" speech, in which the president told the nation it faced a kind of crisis of self-confidence -- a message Americans clearly didn't want to hear. Walter Mondale, for one, had called the idea "crazy," but Caddell had reportedly taken his case to the first lady, who had brought it to Carter.

Caddell prospered socially during the Carter years. He escorted Lauren Bacall and Christie Hefner to the inaugural ball. And there were wild times at the "R Street Beach," Caddell's rented house in Georgetown. (Rafshoon, a one-time roommate, tells people he moved out after he overheard one young woman by the pool ask another: "What's your major?")

After Carter's loss in 1980, Caddell began candidate-shopping again. John Glenn turned him down and Mondale had hired Peter Hart, so he tried to create his own candidate -- a "Mr. Smith" who could run on the outside track again. Biden was his first choice. Then Dale Bumpers, then Chris Dodd. They all said they didn't want to run.

Insiders started to snicker, saying Pat Caddell couldn't find a horse to ride. Finally, on New Year's Eve, Gary Hart summoned him to his Bethesda home. Caddell told Hart to focus on Iowa, which the campaign had considered bypassing. He also told the candidate -- then invisible in the polls -- that he must show passion and sharpen his message.

A few weeks after Hart stunned Mondale in the New Hampshire primary, stories were published detailing Caddell's contribution. Two of Hart's longtime staffers were annoyed at what they saw as his self-promotion.

In the fall of 1984, the Mondale campaign sent a message to Caddell that they would accept his help. The result was a memo so impressive that campaign chairman Jim Johnson asked Caddell to conduct major polling and develop a fall strategy.

Caddell is credited with advising Mondale not to go after Reagan personally in their first debate, but to use disarming kindness and assault his policies. It worked brilliantly, and for one of the few times in the campaign, it seemed as though Mondale might actually be gaining on the president. Shortly afterward, The New York Times reported that it had been Caddell's strategy that helped unsettle Reagan.

Some Mondale staffers were furious. Caddell had managed to get the glory once again.

"What is most frustrating for those of us who have known Pat," says Dottie Lynch, "is his increasing inability to laugh at himself ... In 1973, he had a big ego but if you said, 'Oh, Pat' -- he would laugh. By 1984, he couldn't step back any more ..."

And throughout those years, it seems in hindsight, there were signs of trouble to come.

Several of Caddell's professional partnerships have ended with bad feelings. His first business in Cambridge, Mass., wound up in litigation; Lynch, who worked for him from 1973 to 1979, says she doesn't speak to him; Paul Maslin, who broke with him in 1985 to form his own business, has no relationship with him; Shrum and Doak's liaison with Caddell ended in shambles.

Caddell won't talk about why his partnerships failed. "I don't think it serves any purpose to discuss other personalities," he says.

John Gorman, Caddell's first partner, says he agreed not to discuss the terms of the breakup, but does say: "Once in '76 Ham Jordan called me in Cambridge to get the numbers on the overnight tracking, and Caddell went crazy. I wasn't supposed to talk to Jordan. It got to the point where I had my assistant take his calls because I couldn't stand being yelled at all the time."

Some colleagues in the Carter White House say Caddell was always difficult. At first, they say, as an outsider among the Georgians, he was on his best behavior. But eventually, as he gained more access to the president, he declared war on Hamilton Jordan. One senior aide said that Caddell wanted to be placed on the White House staff and Jordan vetoed the appointment; Caddell says he'd talked about it with Carter at Carter's request, and "it was a mutual decision that was not good idea."

Senior aides found him more and more difficult, because he would consistently do end runs around them. Two former aides say it got to the point where they would have two meetings -- one with Caddell and one without Caddell -- so they could get something done.

When Jordan was taken ill with cancer in 1985, he told friends, he was hurt that he never received a phone call from Caddell. Caddell did phone, however, when Jordan recovered and announced for the Senate.

"Losing wasn't as bad a memory as having had to work with Pat Caddell," says Oliver (Pudge) Henckel, Gary Hart's 1984 campaign manager.

Despite the fact that Hart encouraged his participation, Caddell almost immediately alienated the staff, according to Henckel and Lynch. "When I first started traveling with Hart, he said, 'Welcome to the Special Olympics of Campaigns,' " says Mankiewicz. "He showed no mercy."

Henckel says he "repeatedly urged" Caddell to attend campaign meetings. "But he would only deal with Gary."

"I remember a car ride in California when Pat was screaming because I had given Gary a speech he thought was ill-suited," recalls former Hart speech writer Mark Green. "In front of Gary and the press, he went berserk, screaming profanities ... It was humiliating." Asked about Green's story, Caddell says, "Absolutely not -- I don't believe it happened."

Disaster struck during the Illinois primary, when Caddell approved TV spots critical of party leader Eddie Vrdolyak. Hart was furious, but it was too late. His inability to have the spots killed became a major story, as Mondale muttered aloud that he couldn't see how Hart could run a nation when he couldn't even get an ad off the air. Some say the incident ruined Hart in Illinois.

At one point, concerned about staff problems, Hart had a conversation with Robert Shrum. "Gary, just remember," Shrum advised. "When it's all over, you're the one who gets to be president -- not Pat."

Following the '84 elections, Caddell began a political business with Doak and Shrum that ended in a public feud. The partnership agreement was never signed, according to sources, because Doak and Shrum felt Caddell was insisting on too many special conditions. Joe Biden intervened and tried to broker an agreement, but failed. Today, Doak and Shrum are partners, and their partnership agreement is one page long.

Caddell will not comment on why the trio broke up.

When the Alan Cranston campaign tried to hire Paul Maslin, a former employe of Caddell's, to help with the polling, the campaign could not come to an agreement that would satisfy both men, according to Darry Sragow, Cranston's campaign manager. Eventually, Sragow hired Maslin secretly to do three polls.

"I just didn't want to rock the boat," said Sragow, of his decision not to tell Caddell.

On a lighter note, last year Caddell found himself being sued by his landlady, Yolande Fox, because he would not vacate the rented Georgetown house. After years of informal leases, the former Miss America had decided she wanted her house back. He took a little too long to vacate; she filed papers; he countered by requesting a jury trial. Fox's lawyer said yesterday that the matter has been resolved, and that Caddell no longer resides at the R Street Beach.

Joe Biden was aware from the start that Caddell could be a problem, staffers say, but he genuinely liked and respected him as well. In the summer, they'd spend time together at Caddell's rented house on Martha's Vineyard, where they sometimes listened to recordings of Bobby Kennedy speeches. One winter, Caddell accompanied the Bidens to Hawaii.

Even with the press portraying Biden as a Caddell creation, the candidate remained committed to finding a him a campaign role. But the mere shadow of Pat Caddell could cause problems, according to campaign staffers. Doak, who was the first person Biden approached to be his campaign manager, turned him down -- explaining to Biden that "I can't take a job knowing from the outset that I can't control my biggest management problem."

Biden ultimately hired Tim Ridley, a veteran of Chuck Robb's and Frank Lautenberg's campaigns, who says he was also leery of the Caddell connection. "Right from the beginning we wrestled with the fact that there were people out there who would want to shoot Joe Biden in hopes of wounding Caddell," says Ridley today.

Meanwhile, Caddell had moved to Santa Barbara, Calif., to teach a course in political science. "Part of the reason I went," he explained in a telephone interview last month, "is so people wouldn't think I was controlling this guy, so people would think {Biden} could walk and talk on his own."

Caddell sees the creation of a candidate's "message" as his strong suit. He contributed significantly to Biden's official announcement speech in early June, though the staff was concerned that his inserts seemed to criticize the electorate.

But on the morning after the speech, there was trouble. In his story on Biden's announcement, Paul Taylor of The Washington Post mentioned that Caddell had also worked on Carter's "malaise" speech. Caddell was furious, and accosted Taylor at the Savery hotel in Des Moines. "I was on the elevator," Caddell recalls, "and when Paul walked on, I thought God had obviously set this up." He followed Taylor to the checkout counter, venting his anger with personal accusations Taylor characterizes as obscene.

"No, it wasn't helpful to the campaign," Caddell admits. "I told Joe about it. He gave me a chewing out."

Says Ridley: "This incident crystallized for Joe all the problems of Pat's involvement." Several weeks later, Biden and longtime aide Ted Kaufman told him it would be better if he didn't come to the first nationally televised debate in Houston.

Caddell returned to California. At this point, according to campaign staffers, Biden couldn't figure out what to do with him, and Caddell himself was determined to define his role. He tried repeatedly to talk to Biden alone, they said. He flew to San Francisco to get Biden's ear. They had a long dinner, but there was no resolution to the question of his campaign role.

Caddell says he was reluctant to become involved: "We didn't know how to solve the problem of me and the campaign, because he knew it was time for me to go on," he says.

"Biden wanted to run for president -- not have a series of se'ances with Pat," is how one senior aide saw the situation.

So Caddell turned to memo-writing, producing at least two 100-page analyses of the campaign for Biden -- one of which, two aides said, suggested a larger role for himself. But Biden did nothing in response.

In late August, Caddell came east to help prepare Biden for the Bork hearings. But he still hadn't reestablished his bond with the senator. He tried to get some time alone with Biden during a series of meetings at Bethany Beach. Finally, he told one Biden aide: "I will not compete with these people to give Joe advice!"

During one August gathering in Biden's kitchen, according to Ridley, the candidate confided to his senior staff -- his sister Valerie, Ridley, Kaufman and Donilon -- that he simply didn't know what to do with Caddell.

Then came the Kinnock story, and the question didn't matter any more.

"One of toughest things in Washington is to be Pat Caddell's defender," says Bob Beckel. "It is sometimes dark and lonely work."

Opinion on Caddell's future role in the Democratic Party is decidedly mixed. Like a troublesome slugger in a tight pennant race, he could still be picked up by another presidential team -- but many influential Democrats say they can't buy that scenario at all.

For his part, Caddell continues to insist he can't be left out because he's already quit. He has no interest in campaigns, he says. What he does have an interest in is substance. He says he wants to contribute by speaking and writing. He's working on book proposals, he says, and jokes that even negative publicity helps generate interest. He says he's not going to "miss his wave."

He says he's also working on some movie projects with his friend Warren Beatty in L.A., and that he loves teaching. "It changed my life," he says of the course he taught at the University of California at Santa Barbara. "Just to be able to give something to these kids." His students say he is a terrific teacher.

But does anyone believe he won't be back with a vengeance for at least one last campaign?

Not a chance.

"Napoleon was exiled to the island of Elba, from which he returned for his great 100 days," says Christopher Matthews, a veteran observer of the Democratic wars. "Later, he was exiled to St. Helena, where he died ... The big question is whether this is Elba or St. Helena for him.

"I think there is a second coming of Pat Caddell."

David J. Marek also contributed to this story.