Monday, August 15, 2011

Looking at the 2012 GOP Field after the Ames Straw Poll

This past week has been an interesting one as it pertains to the 2012 Republican Primary season. After the debate on Thursday, the Iowa Straw Poll on Saturday, and the entrance of Texas Governor Rick Perry, we’ve seen a lot shake out in the race.

Generally speaking, we have seen the beginnings for a shakeout of the field. In many ways, we’ve seen who is a real candidate for the nomination, which candidates have a chance to be on the eventual GOP ticket but not as the Presidential nominee, and which candidates are pretty much in the race to whistle “Dixie.” We’ve even see one candidate, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, drop out of the race. So let’s actually break down who is, to borrow a term from American Idol, is in it to win it, who is in it to be a Vice Presidential nominee, and who is just whistling “Dixie.” (For those of you from Palm Beach County, FL, whistling “Dixie” means “wasting their time.”)

Please note: All of these things can change, remember, it’s four months until actual votes are cast.

Real Nominee Competitors

Mitt Romney: This is the obvious one, of course. He’s the GOP frontrunner, he leads pretty much every national poll. (Although, we must remember, national polls are not a good prediction of who will win the nomination, because primaries are held over time, and as we move along the process, candidates drop out and their supporters are sent elsewhere.) Romney is not my first choice, by far, however, he’s a far better choice than Barrack Obama. So would be any candidate in the race, or most people in existence, a few intelligent dogs I’ve met (including my parents golden retriever Buster) or the Looney Tune rooster Foghorn Leghorn.

Michelle Bachmann: Congresswoman Bachmann won the Iowa Straw Poll on Saturday. She is the Tea Party favorite in the race, and, as the field looks now, my personal choice to be the Republican nominee. Bachmann’s showing in the Straw Poll, a show that, regardless of what the Drive-By Media is telling us (largely because they wish it were true, not because it is true), the Tea Party is going to be a huge player in this election.

Rick Perry: Governor Perry did not participate in the Iowa Straw Poll Saturday; as a matter of fact he wasn’t an official candidate until Saturday. I will be honest, I don’t know a lot about Governor Perry. He was George W. Bush’s Lieutenant Governor before Bush was elected President. Perry ascended to the Governorship in 2000 when Bush resigned as President-Elect, but has been re-elected on his own three times. From what I’ve read, he has legitimate Conservative credentials. At any rate, he’s a legitimate contender, at least for now.

Vice Presidential Contenders

Herman Cain: I like Cain, I really do. He’s got real business experience in the business world. Unfortunately, the last time we elected a person with zero political experience to the White House, he was five-star General Dwight Eisenhower. I’ll be honest, I don’t see him winning the nomination, even though I do honestly believe he is qualified. However, Cain would make an excellent Vice Presidential Nominee. He’s got real business credentials, he’s a legitimate Conservative, and it would also be fun to be able to throw that back at Liberals who claim racism when people don’t like Obama.

Rick Santorum: Santorum’s candidacy reminds me a bit of John Edwards’ candidacy in 2004. (Not in terms of policy, mind you, but in terms of his place in the race.) I don’t see him as President. I can, however, see him as the #2. He’s a legislative guy with legitimate Conservative credentials who can debate. He gives a good speech and debates pretty well. I’m not saying with certainty I see him as a top flight Vice Presidential nominee option. But I do see him as a potential option.

Whistling Dixie

Ron Paul: I know I have at least one reader who is an avid Ron Paul supporter, and perhaps others, so I’ll apologize to you now. That said, I don’t see Ron Paul winning the nomination. He’s off the path from most mainstream Republicans. I’m not saying he’s right or wrong in his policies. Unfortunately, he’s the GOP’s answer to Dennis Kucinich. Like him or not, agree with him or not, he’s not going to get the nomination. I know he came in 2nd at the Iowa Straw Poll, but I’ll just be realistic here. Also, as far as Paul as a VP option, I don’t see Paul setting aside his firmly held beliefs to support the eventual nominee’s policies. (By the way, I respect the heck out of him for that.)

Jon Huntsman: Huntsman is the Drive-By Media’s favorite RINO Republican. They’re trying to pass him off on us because he’s a wimpy RINO who would play the lame compromise game. He’s in the same category as Bob Dole and John McCain. In our modern climate where Conservatism is the philosophy that a plurality of Americans supports and with the Tea Party leading the way, a candidate like Huntsman is going nowhere. (Thank you Jesus that a RINO doesn’t have a chance.)

Newt Gingrich: Gingrich is someone who I thought had a chance to be a game-changer and a real Presidential candidate…in 1996 or 2000. He was the leader of the 1994 Republican Revolution. Unfortunately, the political life expectancy on the national stage is only about five to ten years. There are younger candidates who are bursting on the stage like Michelle Bachmann, like Rick Perry. There are more young candidates who are new to the Senate or early in their Governorships that will be the next generation of national candidates, like Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Rand Paul (Ron might not have a snowball’s chance of being President himself, but he could be the President’s father), New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. Gingrich is yesterday’s news, and he’s going nowhere in 2012.

Tim Pawlenty: Governor Pawlenty dropped out of the race, so I think this is self-explanatory.
There are one or two potential candidates who may enter the race, like former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (here’s hoping) and former New York City Mayor Rudy Guliani.

I would put Palin in the “real contender” category, noting that Michelle Bachmann’s poll numbers were in the same low levels nationally as Palin’s are before the American people got to see Bachmann personally (and find out she isn’t a fire-breathing dragon or whatever else liberals claim about her).

I would put Guliani in the “Whistling Dixie” category for two reasons. One, like Gingrich, he’s yesterday’s news. Two, many Americans don’t see being a Mayor as a legitimate stepping stone to the Presidency. Personally, I believe being Mayor of New York City requires is akin to being the Governor of a state like Rhode Island, North and South Dakota. For that matter states like Virginia and Massachusetts have smaller populations than New York City. Personally, I wanted Guliani to run for Governor of New York, largely because he’s about as Conservative as one can get in New York State.

Friends, the field is starting to form levels. It is possible these levels will see adjustment. However, we’re starting to see the tiers form. Changes can happen, remember, votes won’t be cast for four months, but for now, we’re seeing the race start to shape up.

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