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:
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.
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:
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.)
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.
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.
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:
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 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.
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…
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…
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.
Just Google Rick Santorum quotes. No change. Nothing more to say.
Could be included here too.
The could haves, but have better things to do:
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.
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.