To begin, one has to wonder what the current President is planning for 2012. Early speculators for the left are suggesting that Hillary is ready to jump in and save the party and the unpopular president, while others are publicly calling for the president to announce that he will not seek re-election now in order to stop short of absolute destruction of the Democratic Party. A saviour he was not! Of course, barring any major changes on the left, we should expect to see a very weak President unable to control his divided legislature and thus enter the race as a weak incumbent. His performance at the G20 summit and throughout Asia last week indicate that the world is no longer smelling what Barack is cooking!
The GOP faces two camps of contenders for 2012 - those who fell short in 2008 and those who are new to Presidential politics; Each has a strength and a weakness. Those who are past failures have name recognition, but also suffer from burn-out or simple distaste from the people - hey, we already said we didn't like your brand of politic. Those who are up and comers have the fresh sense of something new, but may struggle with name recognition on a serious national scale. For the old, they suffer from the changes over the past two years, as anyone can clearly tell 2012 is definitely no 2008 in the political world!
So, who is in and who is out for the GOP?
Fox News is running a series called "12 in 2012" where they highlight 12 candidates:
Those candidates includes: Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, South Dakota Sen. John Thune, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
McPike reports, “A thirteenth story is also planned with long-shots such as former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, and others like Donald Trump.”
I had looked into the campaigns of some potentials (mentioned in my 2009 article linked above). Idaho Gov. Otter is out, carrying only 59% of his state when the Republican Senator snagged 71%. ND Gov Hoeven easily won election as the US Senator from ND with 76% of the vote. Some time on the federal stage could lend credence to his libertarian tilt. Gov. Luis Fortuño of Puerto Rico is single handedly turning the liberal state into a conservative economic model, and his campaigning in 2010 with others around the nation have lended credence to him as an early pick.
So, who is in? Who is out? No one is talking just yet. Word is that some are waiting until after the first of the year, and after the new congress is seated. Some are waiting a bit longer to see who is jumping into the race.
Of the list above, who would I NOT support?
1. Mitt Romney. He is a big government moderate who has gained nothing since 2008, and remains somewhat of an elitist with respect to the people and the media. He has nothing good to offer the GOP... unless you need someone to sell you a used car.
2. Bobby Jindahl. Anyone who votes 'yes' on making the Patriot Act permanent will never get my vote. He would be the Bob Dole of 2012, and is not significant enough to move this country back into the hands of the people. His horrible state of the union response in 2009 was both the beginning and the end of his national level political career. He is best left to the people of Louisiana.
3. Sarah Palin. I know Palin is a fan favorite, but she cannot beat Obama, and she cannot unite the base. Her career move to leave Alaska's Governorship in 2009 (after just two years) destroyed her credibility as an elected official. For whatever her purpose, the end did not justify the means. Her re-election campaign in 2010 would have been the training for 2012, and her two more years running up to that election plus two more ahead of the 2012 election would have given her significant executive experience. Instead she became a cheerleader for the tea party, in my mind washing away all the hope and respect I had for her as an elected official.
4. Newt Gingrich. He may have been third in line for the top spot in the nineties, but this is not the nineties. Newt Gingrich is a relic, and does not have what it takes to 'right' the sinking ship.
Who would I support?
1. Luis Fortuño. A Puerto Rican bid for the presidency would send a shockwave through the nation. A territory of the US for over one hundred years, the island's population are US citizens, but hold no vote in the US federal government. They pay no federal taxes, but receive federal funds. Fortuño has spent the last two years reforming the island commonwealth into a tax haven, and has worked to drastically cut the size of the island's government - and the jobs that went with it. He is a rising star, and his campaign would not only draw a latino voting bloc, it would change the debate to one focused on our imperial policy of territories.
2. Ron Paul. His economic forecasts proved to be true. His foreign policy stance is very isolationist, much like most Americans pre-WWII. His followers have taken root in local and state parties across the nation, moving into key leadership positions. His backers have never quit the 2008 campaign. Ron Paul's followers are the reason for the Tea Party. The Campaign for Liberty has millions of followers. Ron Paul's appointment as the Chair of the Sub-Committee on Monetary Policy, which he will use to go after the Federal Reserve lends credence to his gain in popularity and credibility within the party, and the outcome of his crusade of the Fed could put him in a strong place to lead the field in 2012.
3. John Hoeven. If he can do something strong and dramatic within the Senate, he stands a chance to make a national name for himself. He is easily in the libertarian camp; arguably able to become the Ron Paul of the senate (notice Rand did not get that distinction). He did a great job in North Dakota, and could do a great job taking that same policy to D.C.
Others who Intrigue.
1. Lou Dobbs. There were feelers put out when he left CNN last year that he may be setting up for a 2012 run. Dobbs would do a great job in the mix.
2. Joe Arpaio. The Arizona County Sheriff will play the part of Tom Tancredo, getting tough on immigration. He holds general favor across the nation, and is already making the rounds.
Wikipedia is tracking 28 potential GOP contenders, with the prospect of a few more waiting in the wings. As the dust settles from November 2010, it will surely be interesting to see who decides to put a horse in the race for 2012.