Sunday, May 1, 2011

Republicans Push to Widen the Field of Candidates for 2012

Following up my previous essay on GOP efforts to break away from Donald Trump's shadow, the New York Times has a piece along the same lines, "Republicans Are Pursuing a Wider Field for 2012 Race."

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Republican leaders, activists and donors, anxious that the party’s initial presidential field could squander a chance to capture grass-roots energy and build a strong case against President Obama at the outset of the 2012 race, are stepping up appeals for additional candidates to jump in, starting with Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana.

“I’m getting letters from all over the damn country, and some of them are pretty moving,” Mr. Daniels said in an interview last week at the Capitol in Indianapolis, where his friends believe he is inching closer to exploring a candidacy. He added, “It can’t help but affect you.”

The first contests of the primary are about eight months away, and most of the candidates have yet to fully open their campaigns. But some party leaders worry that Republicans are making a bad first impression by appearing tentative about their prospects against Mr. Obama and allowing Donald J. Trump to grab headlines in the news vacuum of the race’s early stages.

“The race needs more responsible adults who can actually do the job,” said Fergus Cullen, a former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party.
RTWT at the link above.

Things definitely feel different this pre-primary season. A good comparison would be 2004, when folks might recall that Howard Dean had campaigned for over a year for the Democratic nomination. Dean was in fact widely expected to take either Iowa or New Hampshire on the strength of his antiwar message. We know what happened of course. The people spoke in Iowa and Dean when down in a screaming fit of fury immortalized in political lore as the "Dean Scream." Howard Dean was the antithesis of tentative, and look what it got him. So for Republicans in 2012, while it seems late in terms of the "invisible primary" of money, media, and polling, in fact there's still plenty of time for other candidates to throw their hats in the ring, and the field shaping up isn't as bad as the media makes out. Mitt Romney's going to be formidable, despite talk that RomneyCare is a killer (and I've even suggested RomneyCare's an albatross). All Romney has to do is denounce his own healthcare record in Massachusetts as a colossal mistake, make reference to polling there looking for a change, and then turn around and say never again! It might be tough in the primaries against fellow Republicans, but with a GOP Congress looking to repeal ObamaCare, Romney can ride his mea culpa on top of a wave of conservative opposition to big government. He's telegenic and an experienced campaigner, and the press will take him seriously, unlike Donald Trump.

Beyond that, I don't know much about Tim Pawlenty, although he looks pretty self-assured at the clip from New Hampshire above. We'll know more after a round of GOP pre-primary debates. Robert Stacy McCain reports on Herman Cain, by the way, who topped an AFP poll coming out of yesterday's event: "Herman Cain Wins 2012 Presidential Forum in Manchester, New Hampshire" (with video). I like what I've seen of Herman Cain, and at this point it's hard to figure out which would be a better ticket, Herman Cain and Allen West or Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, although I think this is still super long-shot territory.

But notice that discussion of Governor Mitch Daniels, who was Budget Director in the George W. Bush White House. Hmm ... Should he take the adoration seriously and enter the race, he'll likely end up an also-ran who leaves the grassroots wanting. The Times gives cursory discussion to Sarah Palin. Perhaps her moment to enter the race has passed (doesn't bother me, since I've long suggested she run in 2016). There's also mention of Chris Christie, Rick Perry, and Paul Ryan, and who knows, maybe one of them will surprise us (I like Christie)?

In any case, like I said, let's get on with the debates and see how things shake out. And keep an eye on the money. Michele Bachmann's been raising funds like the devil, and fundraising's one of the factors facilitating media coverage, so things can snowball for a candidate that way.

RELATED: Check the 2012 GOP primary calender at Frontloading HQ.


Jeff Pulice said...

With the shellacking Barack gave to your Trump and Bachman (and Romney!) at the Correspondents Dinner. I don't think they'll have to worry about all that exhausting campaigning. Why isn't there more passion on the Republican side? I think it's a Tea Party thing. They don't like the known politicians, those guys are politicians. They like folks who are either 'The Man With No Name' or kind of off the rails. They sure do like talking about birth certificates and such!

By the way: I am still waiting for an update on how you feel about the 'Elizabeth Edwards dying wrong' post you put up a few months ago. I asked you two weeks ago if, after some reflection, some prayer, some thinking about what Jesus would have done in a situation like that, maybe you might have chosen a different path? In any case, I continue to pray for you, you're still invited to go shooting with us up at Burro Canyon any time and I'm looking forward to hearing from you.

Anonymous said...

I dunno. It feels like the smart candidate would not announce anything just yet. Just keep his/her name in the mix while Obama self-destructs.

Unknown said...

Herman Cain has a real track record against long odds. If truth and what we used to call common sense still mean anything, both he and Allen West will be forces to be reckoned with. Otherwise, the only benefit on the US horizon is that the lefties are putting the "Golden Goose" into its death throes, which means that on the most basic level, this BS is or soon will be over, and we'll be back to reality, even though it will not be pretty. At least we will no longer be feeding those who are not truly productive. Work for the best and prepare for the worst...