The Race for the 2012 Republican Nomination

With the Presidential Election of 2012 now underway in earnest, here’s a look at the Right-Leaning hopefuls that may emerge at the top of the ticket sent forth to challenge President Obama two Novembers from now.  While the list is certainly not exhaustive, it does include most of the major (and minor) players.  There is certainly room for new faces, but considering the “shortage” of time between now and primary season, said newcomer better get a move on if he/she wants to make a splash in Iowa or New Hampshire.

So, here’s the list (for now).  The “IN’s” are obviously those that I think are either going to enter the race or are already in it; and the “OUT’s” are a combination of those who have said publicly that they are not running and those who simply have no place in the race in the first place.  I think the arrows are pretty self-explanatory, but just in case… we will be using them to track momentum.  Have a look.

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TIM PAWLENTY: [IN]

I think he will be the first to pop.  He’s more or less been campaigning since the last election results came across the wire two years ago.  He decided not to run for a third term as Governor of Minnesota and has been testing the waters for quite some time in Iowa and New Hampshire.  I think its really just a formality at this point.  My money’s on late December, but before the Holidays.  Just in time to give people something to talk about as they gather with the family for merriment.  If not, expect an announcement to accompany his scheduled January book tour.  Before if he’s confident or after if he is not and needs to sell books to lay the groundwork for future employment.  Being the first out of the gate could give him a much-needed boost in the name-recognition department as well.

JIM DEMINT:  [OUT]

I don’t see him entering this race, but his clout with the Tea Party crowd could be enough to make a legitimate candidate out of the Senator.  I’m inclined to believe he fancies himself more a King maker than a king, but you never know.  He may be tired of fighting Gov Palin in the endorsement game and ready to try out the role of the endorsed for a change.

RICK PERRY: [OUT] [--]

He’s said unequivocally that he’s not running.  He’ s content serving Texas as Governor and he appears to be enjoying his new role as head of the Republican Governor’s Association.  I think the case is closed.

“I don’t want to be the president of the United States.” FOX NEWS SUNDAY (November 21, 2010)

“Being the governor of a state like Texas… is a more pivotal job in the future.”

GARY JOHNSON:  [IN]

Yeah don’t feel bad if you said…. “huh??” to this one.  He’s the former Governor of New Mexico who currently chairs the Our America initiative.  He’s by all accounts a libertarian, but since that’s so in vogue these days, perhaps he has a chance.  He hasn’t publicly declared his intentions, but he did hint at a run with the Daily Caller.

MITCH DANIELS: [IN]  

I think he’s in, but I think he missed his window.  He was all the rage in the run up to 2008 and decided to do little more than flirt with the idea.  I’m thinking he’s been passed in the Governor’s race for the nomination by Pawlenty, Kelly, Jindal, Christie, and the whole list of “former governors.”  To make the matter worse, his name recognition is de minimus so he’s going to have to do some serious leg work if he’s going to make a real run at this.

CHRIS CHRISTIE:  [OUT]

The Governor of New Jersey has widely become a popular choice amongst the newest breed of Republicans – those that want fiscal discipline in government and care very little about the rest of the murk and the hogwash.  While his candidacy is intriguing and would be very entertaining, he’s not running in 2012.  He has much work still to do in the Garden State and that is where he will remain.  Should he choose to enter this race or any hereafter, he will have quite a hill to climb in the primary process as his positions on pivotal social issues remain largely a mystery, but don’t rule him out in 2016 if Republicans drop the ball this time around.

BOB MCDONNELL:  [OUT] [--]

The Governor of Virginia was quite the talk of the town early in the Obama administration after he destroyed Dem Creigh Deeds last November.  His GOP rebuttal from the Virginia State House was quite the national platform for a new faced up and comer, but I think his day on the national stage is likely to come in 2016 or thereafter, if it is to come at all.  I wouldn’t expect seeing his name among the early hopefuls.

JEB BUSH:  [OUT] [--]

He’s not running.  As his mother aptly put it in her family interview with Oprah, the nation is simply “Bushed out” for now.  He will be a player in the race depending on which of the candidates he decides to endorse however.  Florida will be a key state and a few kind words from the one Bush anybody actually likes could go a long way.  A point worth mentioning, he first said Palin lacked the “intellectual curiosity” to be President, but has since backed off and said “You betcha” to the idea of her claiming the post.  My guess, he’s going to back someone else.  First impressions are the most enduring.

MARCO RUBIO:  [OUT]

He’s not running folks.  He hasn’t even taken his seat yet in the Senate.  Spare me the Obama references.  Its not the same scenario and Republicans don’t get to play by the same rules as Democrats do.  He will be the focal point of the Republican Convention ala Obama in 2004; but thats where reality needs to meet these comparisons – for now…

I am rather pleased to hear however that Dem Pollster Doug Schoen thinks he could be a force on a ticket with a platform centered around American Exceptionalism.  I could go for that.

MIKE HUCKABEE: [IN]

The Former Governor and Fox Friendly personality is always an intriguing figure.  He polls extremely well among Republicans, but could he appeal to mainstream America?  I happen to believe he’s a little too Evangelical for the general electorate, but he could be a force in the primaries.

His decision to run could play a huge role in Gov Palin’s decision as well.  He would likely steal a large portion of a base that would otherwise go her direction.  Bumper sticker Republican battle of 2011 – Huckabee versus Palin.  No holds barred, no hyperbole off limits.  No talking point left unrepeated.  And more importantly, who would the Fox crowd back?

I’m inclined to say OUT here, but I think the Huckster’s got another run in him and I think he believes he can win.  Ready the summer concert series with Mike, his guitar, and every washed up band from the last 40 years.

Monday night he told Greta that he’s “not ruling it out” …. but that he’s “not jumping into a pool that is empty” meaning he’s not running another campaign that doesn’t have any money.  So, if you’re a fan of the Huckster, send him some loot ASAP.

Favorable Quinnipiac poll results released Monday have him on the up-tick.  Trailing the incumbent within the statistical margin of error two years out isn’t a bad place to start.

Good news is… He’s Joy Behar’s “favorite Republican”

MIKE PENCE:  [OUT]  

He’s definitely flirting with the idea of seeking higher office.  The only question – is that office in Washington, D.C. or Indiana?  After relinquishing his post as Chairman of the House Republican Conference, he appears poised for a move, but he’s been slow to climb up the leader boards in national and inter-party polling.  Perhaps a term as Governor could better prepare him for a 2016 run and improve his visibility?  After all, a run from the House is a less than conventional move.

I’m inclined to say not that scenario is rather unlikely.  He is an ardent believer in finishing what he starts.  That reportedly played a large role in his decision not to run for Evan Bayh’s Senate seat in his home state.  Leaving the governor’s mansion mid term would not be a move that aligns itself with such a mindset.  Maybe the time is now.

Could a Pence run steal Palin’s thunder?

SARAH PALIN:  [OUT]  

I have said repeatedly that I do not think she will run and I’m sticking to that position, but I have to admit that she’s calling into question the quality of my clairvoyance with every waking moment.  She’s holding to this “I’ll run if there’s no one good enough out there” message, but she seems to be leaning toward pulling the trigger.

That said, I’m terribly intrigued as to who would actually have to enter this thing to convince her to NOT RUN.  I mean come on.  The list isn’t exactly top secret at this point.  The key players are on board.  Save for the dark horse we all keep hoping will emerge, who else could really be out there?

Could it really hinge on who might run against her?  (see Newt Gingrich)

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough will not be among those supporting her candidacy.

NEWT GINGRICH:  [IN]

I think he’ll run.  I think he will run dirty.  I think he will come out of the gates early with guns blazing and will keep some of the fringe players from even thinking about entering the race.  The “dirt” on Newt has been out there for ages, so there’s no doubt that if he runs, he’s in it to win it.

Outside of Huckabee stealing Palin’s base, Gingrich will be the biggest threat to Palin should she run – not in the primaries but in the general should she emerge.  Gingrich will hammer her from every angle during primary season and paint a picture that won’t be easily forgotten come November.

Expect him to bow out early if things don’t look promising and to firmly align himself with the Romney camp.

Also, expect his decision to play a huge role in Palin’s decision.  No one else will dare attack Palin directly, so I’d predict her announcement to run – should it come – will emerge only after Newt announces firmly and conclusively that he will not.

Washington Post:  Gingrich, though, isn’t ready to make an announcement right now. He told Beaumont that he will likely announce whether he is in or out of the race by February, but in a separate appearance in the state suggested it might take as long as March.

Gingrich waited until late September 2007 to say that he would not run for president in 2008, meaning his time frame is significantly accelerated this time.

RICK SANTORUM;  [OUT]

The Former Senator of Pennsylvania is talked about as a fringe candidate for 2012, but I fail to see how he’s even remotely viewed as anything but a long-shot.  He’s found himself in troubled water recently after characterizing himself as a TEA Party candidate and I would venture to guess that his misunderstanding of what the movement was all about in the first place is probably a sign that we shouldn’t hitch our cart to such a feeble horse.

HALEY BARBOUR:  [IN] [--]

He would make for an extremely entertaining primary season with his candor and quick wit, but could he appeal to the rest of flyover country outside of the South and Southeast?  I sincerely doubt it, but I do hope he runs.  I think the GOP could use a good dose of Southern Conservatism injected into this race coming from someone other than the Huckster.

BOBBY JINDAL:  [OUT]

I’m not buying this even if he is selling it for bargain basement prices.  I once jumped aboard the Jindal express only to find myself hitchhiking back from the quaint little town of misery and embarrassment after watching him give the GOP rebuttal to President Obama back in 2009.  He was the rising star that never was and hopefully never will be.  I commend him for his efforts in Louisiana but pray that is where he will remain – and it looks like he’s answering my prayers.

“My only political aspiration is to be re-elected as Governor of Louisiana.”  MEET THE PRESS (November 21, 2010)

“I’m running for re-election as Louisiana Governor” ON THE RECORD (November 22, 2010)

I think this star simply missed its moment.  He’s out pubbing a book on leadership in times of crisis, so maybe that will keep him occupied and out of the race.  Lets just hope he doesn’t get struck by his own “star power” once more and decide to enter this thing.  Expect his name to be on every VP short list though as we move toward the Convention, so the Jindal hype machine could resurrect itself.

JOHN THUNE:  [OUT]

Many think he “looks the part.”  I think that’s about as far as the list should run.  He’s cookie cutter Republican through and through, but thats really the only resonating characteristic he has to offer.  I can’t say that’s in any way undesirable, I simply fail to see how this or any Senator from South Dakota offers anything to a Presidential ticket other than a Presidential face.  He’s not a leader, and in my humble opinion, has done very little to demonstrate that he is even capable of leading.  And…. asRedState aptly reported, he may have buried himself with Tea Party supporters with his reported reluctance to get on board for an earmark moratorium.    He did however respond by shifting focus to another effort to check spending.  So maybe call that a push.  That said, either way, you’re still only left with a Presidential face from South Dakota.

MITT ROMNEY:  [IN] [--]

He’s got GW’s support.  Not sure that he’d want it OR that it’d help him, but he has it nonetheless.  He’s what many would call the “next-in-line” candidate, but in a TEA Party driven Republican primary that may not be the best thing to be.  He does have nearly two years to recast that image and one could only guess at this point what the TEA Party’s impact will be once 2012 finally rolls around.  That said, he’s going to have quite the hill to climb.  Romney Care is going to be his biggest enemy and he will have to do some pretty heavy lifting if he wants to bring the Right wing of the party into his camp.  He may stack up best against President Obama but he may not be able to get that far if he doesn’t find a way to answer some pretty tough questions.

MIKE BLOOMBERG: [IN]

I think its a bit of a stretch to call him a Republican at this point, but just for the sake of argument and because I’m way too lazy to include a special independent post, we will include him here since he’s gone this route in the past.  He’s a shape-shifter changeling and a moderate at best.  That said, he does have quite the following among independents.  That could help him in a general election campaign but could also be his undoing in the primary.  I think he will eventually run.  The primary choice  is the only real question.

December 12, 2010:  Meet the Press

“No way no how.”

Maybe he’s not going to enter this race after all.  He says he aims only to be the “greatest major in ever” ; sorry Rudy.


H/T Photo Bucket

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