Firstly, my list is going to be overwhelmingly dominated by Governors of States. It is my belief that executive offices require executive experience. Obama, the first Senator to be elected since JFK, has proven the point that Senators make bad Presidents! (I have not included Ron Paul because of his age... he is the only other candidate with impressive ideas of drastic changes needed to return Liberty to the People.)
Secondly, this list is in no particular order - but I will offer up a top three, as I see them.
Thirdly, Governors with re-elections in 2010 stand to lead the pack, as they will be backed by momentum, and could go hard against Obama on a national level during their campaign... something to watch for - but not necessarily the biggest factor!
My conversation piece of potentials:
Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell. She has the ability to draw much attention due to her state's Civil Union laws - a break in ranks from hardcore Social Conservatives, leaning toward a Libertarian ideology of Personal Liberties (even in the bedroom) - This alone would make for great debate and give a good representation of the future make-up of the GOP. She is very moderate, and a nomination would not be in support of the general agenda of the Libertarian Movement. Definitely not one to win, but one to draw attention to Political Parties using Govt. to force Social Agendas. Her re-election campaign in 2010 may be an indicator as to her future aspirations.
Idaho Gov. C.L. Otter. He is a little known one-term Governor, but his early Congressional opposition to the Patriot Act and many of Bush's policies are signs of his promising Libertarian streak. He is up for re-election in 2010. There is nothing highly controversial, nor glaringly spectacular about this potential candidate. Busted for DUI and married to a much younger woman... other than that he is a fairly conservative "no-namer" with a libertarian streak that could sit well with a country ready to reduce the role of the Federal Govt. He is up for re-election in 2010. How he runs that campaign could make or break it for this Libertarian minded Republican.
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels. Mitch has been pinged a number of times for 2012, and has denied interest in running. He is a reformer in Indian, and could bring some energy back to the GOP in that region - however, a Daniels presidency would grossly resemble a Bush presidency. There is no indication that Daniels would openly support Libertarian ideals in eliminating the Federal stranglehold on the Union. This guy may be one to watch, but not for reasons of support... we should be wary of this "Bush Republican".
North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven. The longest serving governor in the United States, Hoeven is a Libertarian minded Conservative. His support of strict state's rights in control over drug policy, health care, gun issues, etc make him a glowing prospect to carry the Gadsden flag to the White House. As a former president of a state owned bank, he has the right credentials in times of economic woe - which I still see us being in as we approach 2012. Hoeven's term is up in 2012, so he will have to make a move on his own to rise to the national stage.
South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford. Until recently he was my favorite for the 2012 campaign. However, the handling of his affair may have ended his political career. Regardless, he may be the best and most outspoken Libertarian Republican we have in the field... If we can get around the fact that he, like most Americans, is going through a divorce, there may be time to rebound by 2012. Pending results of a possible S.C. impeachment, I would keep Sanford on my watch list.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry. I mention Rick Perry hesitantly, and only because of his "secession" talk of late. A governor who truly understands the intent of the 9th and 10th amendments to the Constitution makes for a great President. There are, however, two drawbacks. He is from Texas, Bush was from Texas - I can already hear the Dems battle cry "we don't need another Texas Governor running this country like Bush"... It's all the dems have, and they will not be able to resist running another anti-Bush campaign in 2012. Secondly, "independent" Texas governors tend to forget the concept of state's rights once they transition into the white house... Perry may very well end up taking the reigns of tyranny without remorse, and controlling the population under the guise of "I know best" - something the Federal Government excels at.
Puerto Rico Gov. Luis G. Fortuño. Though only newly elected as Governor of PR, Fortuno's leadership experience and commitment to service of Puerto Rico's community is stellar. He leads the "New Progressive Party" of Puerto Rico, which caucuses with the Republicans and advocates for PR to become a state of the Union -the opposite mind-set of the secessionist movements. His election would quell the battle cry for freedom from the Federal Government, as it is his policy to reduce the size of government - if only for purely economic reasons. Also, as you may be wondering, he is a resident of Puerto Rico - which is a US territory and NOT a state. This would open some of the most pressing and relevant Constitutional discussions regarding the presidency in the history of the United States. If the left thought Palin caught them off guard, just try a liberty minded territorial resident aimed at healing the Union by putting to rest the policy of territories, US expansionism without representation, and re-emphasising the importance of sovereignty and autonomy while supporting a limited Federal Role. This guy may be the real ticket to a New Republican Party focused on renewed state's rights.
Guam Gov. Felix Camacho. Though less likely to stir the pot than Fortuno, Camacho has the ability to draw into question the 50 state policy of the United States, the way the US deals with territories, and the ever important role of state sovereignty and autonomy. Camacho is term limited in 2010, but could make a name for himself by challenging the Federal Government and the United States on the territory policy. This is less likely to happen in Guam as it is in Puerto Rico, but Camacho may ruffle some feathers.
Who I definitely DO NOT want to see in 2012. Jindahl, Pawlenty, McCain, Romney, Barbour.
Jindahl just doesn't have what it takes, and his hype by the GOP in 2008 for VP made me very aware of his "puppet" status as a candidate. His response to the State of the Union was weak, and he has done nothing of significance. He gets a Libertarian rating of F from me, and would prove to be a continuation of Bush Era policies. Jindahl voted yes on making the PATRIOT Act permanent, voted in favor of the 2006 Military Commissions Act, supported a constitutional amendment banning flag burning, and voted for the Real ID Act of 2005. Not a Small Government activist in the least.
Pawlenty is a McCain moderate that adds nothing inspiring to the field of potential candidates.
McCain has no chance of ever again getting the Republican nomination and should strongly consider leaving the national stage for his direct responsibility in electing Obama.
Mitt Romney has never won me over, is too similar to John Kerry, and his one term in MA Governorship was indicative of his inability to hold the line on a position. He never was and will never be a good candidate for presidency.
In July 2009, a Rasmussen Reports poll indicated that 34% of registered Republicans have a favorable view of Mississippi Gov. Barbour. However, 37% dislike him, which is the highest unfavorable percentage among 5 other possible Republican candidates for 2012: Dick Cheney, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Tim Pawlenty. Also, 21% of GOP voters would least like to see Barbour win the party nomination in 2012. Including the Liberty Republican.
I have left Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin until the end for a reason. She was my pick for VP, he was my pick for President.
Huckabee, at this point, lacks the willingness to end entanglements with foreign countries, reduce the size and control of the Federal Government, and eliminate the Federal Reserve. He is a proponent of the Fair Tax, which is promising. However, I fear that after Obama, a Huckabee message of Hope and Change (as in 2008) will not get far, and that his intent to use the POTUS platform to enact a strong Conservative Social agenda does nothing to advance True Libertarianism and reduced Federal Government.
Sarah Palin, the bull-dog, is a rally cry for state's rights and perceived change within the ranks of the GOP. She is the manifestation of discontent with the status quo within the Republican Party, and lacking an alternative may be our next Presidential Candidate, ensuring Obama a two term presidency. Palin cannot win votes from the left. She doesn't represent enough of a Libertarian change within the ranks of the GOP and she has not made decisions that inspire confidence in her ability to lead the nation. As a VP, perhaps... but she has yet to indicate that she has what is needed to return the Presidency and the Union to a settled state. She is too polarizing, and for all the wrong reasons - a distraction as I see it at this point. As much as it pains me to say it, She has a lot of growth ahead if she is going to win my endorsement again.
My early picks, then, would be as follows:
Puerto Rico Gov. Luis G. Fortuño
North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven
Idaho Gov. C.L. Otter
h/t to PuertoRico.com blog:
Fortuno was born in San Juan, in 1960. He attended the School of Foreign Service (Georgetown University) where he received his bachelor’s degree and went to the University of Virginia Law, to obtain his Juris Doctorate. Politics became a part of his life early on, when he was voted Vice-President of his Freshman Class, and later became the Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Conference. He also played a significant role in the establishment of the Congressional Friends of Spain Caucus. While working his way up in the Republican Party, Fortuno held various positions throughout his career including member of the House Republican Policy Committee, member of the Executive Committee of the National Republican Congressional Committee, served on the Committee of Education and Labor, Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company and was the President of Hotel Development Corporation. His position as Department of Economic Development and Commerce Secretary came in 1994 and in 2005, he was elected to Congress. With the various positions held over the years, Fortuno has gathered a wealth of knowledge in various sectors and it is believed that if anyone can bring about change in Puerto Rico, it would be him.