2011 for someone like me is like 2012 for everyone else. 2011 means the start of the 2012 presidential nominating season. I’m usually burnt out on the entire enterprise by the June preceding Election Day. I am well aware that few of my friends remember the short-lived campaigns of Tommy Thompson, Jim Gilmore, or Duncan Hunter for the Republican nomination in 2008. For me, I will never forget the quixotic campaign of Mike Gravel or the toe-in-the-water attempt at the Democratic nomination by Tom Vilsack in 2008 (he dropped out before the first debate in 2007!). In my world, the time has come to begin sizing up the potential contenders for the opportunity to challenge Obama for the Presidency. Pundits are predicting a later start on candidate announcements compared to the 2008 campaign, but I can’t wait any longer.
Here’s what you have to look forward to:
Mike Huckabee: The GOP loves to nominate their losers from the previous cycle, and Huckabee was the last man standing before McCain clinched the nomination 4 years ago. Marra and I heard him deliver his living room stump speech in an eco-friendly New Hampshire farmhouse, and he can be very engaging, very witty. His Fox News exposure should help his name recognition this go-round. His belief that Earth is only 6,000 years old might discourage independents, and people who can think. He put forth the fair tax as a key proposal in 2008. I am interested to see if he tries to ride the tax issue all the way to the nomination.
Ron Paul: Half Republican, half Libertarian, half cocked. A man who votes strictly according to his philosophies is admirable. A man who doesn’t vote according to reality is unelectable. I like him in the mix, though, because he does challenge conventional wisdom, something that is sometimes sorely lacking in GOP candidate “debates”.
Haley Barbour: Current Governor of Alabama and former head of Republican National Committee, poised to run as an outsider because he has a Southern accent. The vision of a white, heavyset male Southerner with a thick drawl running against a thin, black male from Chicago is too much for me to bear. The media would eat it up, and our fantasy of a post-racial world would disappear faster than Gore votes in a Palm County recount.
Tim Pawlenty: He was on the short list for VP in 2008 (you have to wonder how short that list was…). His book tour begins January 11th. Let’s see how that goes first. He is also known for taking principled positions, like refusing federal funds that could help the citizens of his state. So what if his constituents suffer for his political posturing? He’s a leader, but then again, so was the Pied Piper.
Sarah Palin: Don’t worry, I’m kidding. According to the recent polling data, only defenseless caribou want her to run.
Rick Santorum: This season’s Sam Brownback – looks good on TV, but then he starts talking. When I think of Santorum, the first thing that pops into my head are his views on bestiality, and that can’t be a good sign for his chances.
Mitt Romney: Just because his hair doesn’t move when the wind blows doesn’t mean he is the heir apparent to Reagan. He has a major dilemma, since he signed an individual mandate for health insurance into law in Massachusetts, and that issue is sure to be a candidate litmus test in 2012. Perhaps he was for it before he was against it. He can afford to stick around, and hope the other candidates do something dumb, and given this group of names, that could be a winning strategy.
Chris Christie: He was President of the Student Council my senior year of college at Delaware. Anyone I went to college with cannot be President.
Jeb Bush: Don’t discount this guy making an appearance. Two term governor of a key electoral state (Florida); instant name recognition; access to a large group of well-heeled donors; good connections within Latino community; smarter than George. Given the fact that he would be surrounded by reality TV show characters, he’d look like the one adult in the room.
Newt Gingrich: His professorial tone will sink him, since the average voter wants to elect someone they could have a beer with. More voters would prefer to dump a beer over his head. His ex-wives will be offered a daytime show to compete with The View, and Newt will return to throwing stones from a comfortable distance. It is also easy to misspell his last name as Gingrinch, and that won’t help.
John Thune: He has a chance, simply because no one knows who he is, and he lives near Iowa, a critical state for anyone with a real interest in the Presidency. He’s tall, too. That’s important. Just ask Dennis Kucinich.
Mitch Daniels: The first time I saw this name, I thought it was a gag. Mitch Daniels sounded like the name of the Godfather in Old School (part played by Luke Wilson). After some exhaustive research, I discovered that the character’s name was Mitch Martin, not Daniels, but you get my point. Daniels, Indiana governor, combines the positive qualities of other candidates, like Thune (unknown), Bush (governor of key state), and Santorum (not ugly). Beyond that, he feels to me like the Evan Bayh of the GOP – good on paper, but that’s about it. VP option, and maybe that’s why his name is being floated.
I have left out lots of other possibilities – Pataki, Trump, Jindal, Pence, Giuliani, Condi and a yet unknown Tea Bagger-to-be-named-later. The only guarantee is that “Unopposed” will not appear on the ballot after Obama’s name in November 2012. We’ll take it slowly. After all, the Iowa Caucus is still one year away, and time NEVER flies. Besides, the first scheduled debate isn’t until THIS SPRING at the Reagan Library.
I wonder who will be the first candidate to recommend privatizing the library. Sarah is even money right now.