A Democrat’s take on the 2012 GOP Presidential Field


Last week, the FOX network continued its push to replace President Obama with its first official piece of business, the first FOX Republican Presidential candidate debate.  While many of the top contenders decided not to attend, five middle and lower tier candidates showed up and excited national Republican political junkies.

Despite the low candidate turnout, and the absence of the most controversial candidates, this particular debate was a bit controversial.  Not just controversial in that 4 of the 5 candidates in attendance said they would support torture as a President… (pause for shake of head)… but it was controversial in that the Associated Press and Reuters chose not to attend because of restrictions placed by the FOX Network on other news gathering organizations.  I guess it just proves that Sirius/XM was correct in their recent reclassification moving FOX “News” from the News station category to the Political station category.

Anyway, it was the first event of the 2012 presidential race.  We will have a better picture of what to expect as we approach the summer and fall. There should be candidates beating down the door to take on President Obama the way Republicans talk about how bad a President he is. I think the reality is that potential candidates realize it would have been really hard to beat Barack Obama even before the recent political events.

Here is my uneducated take on the field of Obama’s potential challengers.

The Serious Presidential Challengers:
Mitt Romney
Former Governor of Massachusetts, dogged within the party for RomneyCare and past “liberal” stances. Most recent polls have him closely behind poll leader Mike Huckabee, second, just like he was to John McCain.  Romney lost to Ted Kennedy in a Senate race not long ago.  In that race Senator Kennedy joked that Romeny flipped and flopped so much that if the election lasted long enough, Mitt would vote for Kennedy instead of himself. Ted Kennedy also joked saying “I am pro choice, Mitt is multiple choice.” I think that flip-flop aspect of his history will keep him in second, regardless of who wins the nomination.  But, if he gets the nomination, he might have a better chance of winning than a lot of these candidates.

Jeb Bush
I included Jeb Bush in the serious challenger list, but not Mike Huckabee, go figure.  Huckabee is obviously a serious contender, I’m just unsure he will run.  I think Jeb will run.  He is obviously hurt by Bush 43 as well as Bush 41, by 43’s policies and result, and 41 along with 43 by the monarchal aspect of a third Bush as a President.  Those are the only reasons he wouldn’t run, but if he jumps in, especially at the last minute into a crowd of dull, lifeless contenders, he immediately becomes a star.  I don’t think he can win the presidency because of 41 and 43, but he could easily get the nomination. 

The Dark Horses:
Paul Ryan
Like Bush, he isn’t necessarily an expected candidate, but neither was Barack Obama.  He is a Midwesterner liked by Tea Party and Republicans, and he has already established a fiscal campaign against Obama. He is technically a dark horse because he isn’t a candidate yet. If he jumped in, I think he would move to the serious challenger level and be labeled by some the second coming of Ronald Reagan (which would be completely inaccurate, don’t get me started.)

Tim Pawlenty
He seemed to be the winner in the recent FOX Network debate according to other’s accounts.  He could win by default because he is non-controversial nationally, yes, he did raise his hand in support of torture.  Of course, how he left the State of Minnesota could really hurt him in a national debate.  But if Mike Huckabee stays out of the race, and he wins Iowa.  He could run away with the nomination a la Bill Clinton. 

Mitch Daniels
Ditto on Tim Pawlenty, but he actually did the things Pawlenty didn’t, like solving a state budget deficit. He also is seen as a little more independent that would appeal to moderates with his decision to avoid controversial social wedge issues, which is a negative to hard core Republicans.  Maybe a good national pick, but might have a hard time getting the Republican nomination.

Michelle Bachmann
I know she got a zero in a recent Iowa poll, but ths is a very shrewd and hard working politician. I consider her a dark horse, not because I think she can win, but because she can get some serious attention and raise a lot of money.  The problem is she has a really good thing going where she is right now, so I question whether she would want to leave the House, especially if her district borders remain unchanged as they appear to be in the first redistricting attempt. On the other hand, if she does enter the race and doesn’t win the nomination, she is poised to fully concentrate on taking on Sen. Al Franken in 2014.  That makes me think she might not mind getting in.

The Not So Likely:
Newt Gingrich
He announced he is in today.  He is a fundraising powerhouse and he WAS a political powerhouse. I think the “was” aspect is weighing on his ego.  He can make a run, and if he loses, but does well, he gets the extra attention to sell books and continues to get calls from the FOX network to be an analyst.  If he happens to win, even better for Newt.

Herman Cain
Herman Cain was the fan favorite at the FOX Network debate, and to his credit, he was the only candidate who said he would not support torture.  He doesn’t have much of a chance.

Sarah Palin
Fierce loyalty among fans, but doesn’t seem to the have the skills or desire to seriously compete for the GOP nomination, let alone the Presidency. Plus, a bad loss would seriously diminish her ability to be taken seriously on the FOX network…

Ron Paul
Might have a better chance to win the presidency than some of these guys, but he can’t win the GOP nomination.  Plus, there is his son…

The Jokes:
Donald Trump
He was a registered Democrat, vied to run as the Reform Party candidate for president, toyed with running for New York Governor, and now is threatening to toss his hair in the ring this year for President. It is all a publicity stunt to increase his wealth. After all, is the country really going to elect a man who started life with $400 million that his father left him and has been bankrupt 3 times since, divorced twice, had an affair, and thinks he has the right to judge other’s moral and financial decisions?  Recent polls have put him in his place, close to last.

Rick Santorum
Just Google Rick Santorum quotes. No change. Nothing more to say.

Sarah Palin
Could be included here too.

The could haves, but have better things to do:
Mike Huckabee
He has a good gig going. If he gets in he is a “challenger” but I’ve read that he isn’t necessarily interested.  He leads in the current polls, and he might be the only current potential candidate (not including Bush or Ryan) at the top of the list who could unite the Republican base and challenge Obama. 

Haley Barbour
Already out. He is old and wants to spend the rest of his life enjoying it.  The funny thing is that I read he might be Mike Huckabee’s running mate if he runs.  His exit from the race adds to my feeling that Huckabee is out too.

Overall, at this point in the race it seems like a pretty weak pack. If I were betting, and Huckabee stays out, I would put my money on Pawlenty.  But if Bush or Ryan get in, Pawlenty is toast.  They are probably all toast if Huckabee gets in.


3 thoughts on “A Democrat’s take on the 2012 GOP Presidential Field”

  1. Excellent job laying out all the players. Seems like every leading contender has their own Achilles heal. Let’s keep the pro-Obama surge going!

  2. The inclusion of Jeb Bush is most interesting … which prompts the real question : Having been around the White House through two administrations, does he really want that responsibility ?
    Yes, he could win.
    The biggest reason is the change in the Electoral College where historically GOP strong-holds picked up EC voters … remember, forget the popular vote, it’s who can win Florida, Texas, Arizona … plus some potentially swing states like Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Wisconsin … and even Pennsylvania. The Dems lost seats in MA and NY … it’s a whole new ball game in 2012. Obama benefited in 2008 by attracting moderate Republicans who may return to their roots … plus McCain was disliked and distrusted by the Hardcore Conservatives who either stayed home or voted for him because his Palin pick.

    Your take on Gingrich is spot-on … he’s in this for the money and not for the job … which is the reason that Palin won’t run … and why Mike Huckabee may be this year’s version of Fred Thompson – “the Reluctant Candidate for President”.

    Romney has many problems which you have identified … but those are with the GOP base … not with independent voters … he could do better in the national contest than the many of the others.

    Paul Ryan … you must be kidding ?

    Mitch Daniels … com’n now … do you think that John Kline would support him after Daniels went to DC last week and praised Education Sec. Arne Duncan ? Plus, the word is that his wife does not want him to have the job. Heck, let’s remember that Daniels had no problem taking the stimulus money that resulted in Indiana “green jobs”.

    By the time, you’re done … who is left … that’s right … the guy that everybody knows nothing about … Tim Pawlenty. The guy that became Governor based on the candidacy IP’s Penny and Hutchinson … and has no foreign affairs background … and no natural base (military, ethnic, gender, etc.) or experience on the national stage … heck, did you see how unease he was when the I-35 bridge collapsed … and when he heard that Iran’s connections could stop his Essar Global deal. Heck, he couldn’t back down the David Storm and the Minnesota Taxpayer’s League, how could you expect him to confront Iran or North Korea … his Libya “stare-down” suggest was “Trump-like”.

    All that said, there are two issues that will determine the election … jobs and healthcare. Jobs will be a wash … Republicans will blame Obama’s policies but anyone that has a clue will realize that private sector employment has been rising (while government has shredded workforce). But healthcare could be Obama’s winning ticket … think about it, Republicans have called it the “Job-killing healthcare bill” yet private sector jobs have been increasing since it was enacted … the uncertainty was gone … secondly, people will look at what Ryan is proposing to do with Medicare and that will cause people to be concerned what a Republican President and Congress would do … remember John Kline was supposed to be the point man on “Replace” after they repealed it in January and this is May and he has held one full committee meeting on it (this month) … voters will want to know what will happen to their healthcare … the backlash is coming.
    Then again, tell me what is in the news on November 1st, and everything may change.

    As an independent voter, I long for an election where I have a choice between two good candidates … from what the Republicans are offering, they have nothing.

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