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The GOP Presidential Field: They Might Not Be Giants

They say six months is an eternity in politics, and if that is true, then we are three eternities away from knowing how the presidential election of 2012 will go. Having said that, let’s take a look at the line-up and have a go at not only predictions, but the implications of those possible outcomes.

First, the easy one: Obama will be the Democratic candidate, and highly likely to win the election. He demonstrated a remarkable ability to create and run an organization, and inspire voters through oratory. Despite pursuing many of the previous administration's policies, particularly regarding Afghanistan and Iraq, he has slowly made progress in disengaging from Iraq, and will likely do the same with Afghanistan. Oh. And he got Bin Laden. Foreign policy has generally been a success, including decisions regarding the Arab Spring. On the domestic front, an election like 2012 is usually a referendum on the president who is running for re-election, and the economy is usually the most important issue. The Obama administration successfully brought financial stability after 2008, and the question is whether Obama will be held accountable for growth policies which seemed to have helped Wall Street and corporations, while doing little for the average American. The traditional canard is that a high unemployment rate will prevent an Obama win, but this seems an unlikely influence on the upcoming election; although it has been a while, voters still hold the Bush administration responsible for today's situation. Through a series of compromises, Obama has cornered the market on the independent middle of the electorate, and the GOP looks disinclined to even attempt to court that portion of the voting population. So! It's Obama by a comfortable margin.

What about the GOP candidates?

  1. Romney looks like the likely Republican candidate. He has the money, organization, and experience with running to make him a shoe-in for the GOP. The 'business' wing of the GOP wants him, and they always get what they want. Thanks to the Citizens United decision, Romney will eventually command a huge war chest for campaigning, and it should not be too difficult to convince the base to vote for him rather than Obama, or not vote at all. Having said that, he comes across as very phony, and he does have a long history of reversing his supposedly core beliefs. While his loss will drag down the GOP slate in the Senate and House, the huge amounts of corporate money might be enough to hold onto the House. However, in the special election in NY-26, the GOP candidate received four times as much money and still lost, basically due to the issue of Medicare. The upcoming shellacking of Romney will force a lot of soul searching in the GOP.
  2. Pawlenty? Boring, inexperienced with a national political campaign, and unable to raise money. He is probably running for the VP slot; after all, he is only 50 years old, and he will learn. Lack of charisma can be somewhat mitigated, given enough time and practice. He will be looked upon favorably by the GOP right wing, but the word 'appeal' cannot be used with him. Right now, he is simply too boring.
  3. Newt Gingrich shot himself in the foot with his campaign roll out, with his comment about the Ryan budget being 'right wing social engineering.' A horrendous personal history of infidelity and a proven ability to shoot off his mouth mean he will be safe to make vacation plans in March 2012.
  4. Sarah Palin will probably not declare, but her lack of organization and penchant for self-promotion may make her an unorthodox and late entry. Few want to see her run because of strong polling negatives. Michele Bachmann really, really doesn't want to see her run. But nothing can change the fact that, unlike Romney or Pawlenty, Palin has charisma. She sucks the political oxygen out of the room just by showing up. Look for Palin to play Kingmaker- or Queenmaker- and use her substantial influence with the party faithful to keep the party platform to the far right, with a generous side dish of flag wrapped platitudes.
  5. Michele Bachmann: poor Michele. Should she even run? How can this flower- or more accurately, noxious weed- ever flourish with Palin blocking the sun, and casting her into political shadow? A history of lunatic statements on video will not help Michele's case. If she runs, she will also make an early exit.
  6. Jon Huntsman may be the most interesting candidate and strongest dark horse. Like Pawlenty, he is young, just 51 years old, and a VP candidate for anyone except Romney (they are both from Utah). Like Pawlenty, he lacks money, experience running for national office, and a strong organization. He will also be an early casualty.

At this point, other GOP candidates look too unlikely to even be worth discussing, but of course, you are welcome to make a case.

In summary, Romney will probably use superior funding and organization to knock out most of his competition early, and this will give him breathing space to attack Obama. Unfortunately for the GOP, his lack of genuineness and lack of any core conviction other than that he really, really wants to be president make this an easy one to predict.

Posted by phx8 at June 2, 2011 3:18 PM
Comments
Comment #323850

I wonder how much of a factor the Mormon thing will be for Romney. The Christian wing of the GOP isn’t too keen on LDS.

Posted by: Spinny Liberal at June 2, 2011 5:38 PM
Comment #323853

Spinny, As a Christian I personnelly don’t care what religion a candidate is as long as it dosen’t interfear with the way he will govern.

Posted by: KAP at June 2, 2011 6:01 PM
Comment #323855

Spinny,
Romney will have a tough roe to hoe in order to become the GOP candidate, no doubt. One of his opponents- perhaps Palin- will make it a point to familiarize conservative fundamentalists with the basic tenets of the Mormon Church. That might be enough to tank him in Iowa and South Carolina (I believe Romney has already basically conceded in Iowa). Today, when Romney officially announced his candidacy in New Hampshire, Palin’s bus tour showed up nearby in NH. The fundamentalists will be able to torpedo him again in South Carolina, but once the primaries move to multiple states around the country in a very short period of time, Romney’s corporate money will dominate the field.

It will be a weak showing within a weak field, but enough to gain the nomination. No one will much like him- he’s too fake, too phony- but the enormous amounts of corporate money behind him will be spent on the attack. He will lose the general election, but not nearly as badly as Palin or Bachmann.

Posted by: phx8 at June 2, 2011 6:13 PM
Comment #323859

The problem with the Republican field is that they’ve allowed their electorate, in the name of combatting political correctness, to become very picky in religious and political terms.

Because of that, I think the Republicans will sway between two opposite poles: on one hand, anybody who appeals to the center will alienate the base, the Tea Party. They may not get nominated. But if they don’t nominate somebody close enough to the center, the tensions in the country will play towards Obama’s interests, and he’ll walk away with the election.

But if the right wing of the Republican party doesn’t show up, of course, the outcome could be the same.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 2, 2011 6:28 PM
Comment #323860

@KAP - That’s awesome. And ITA.

@phx8 - He does have a lot of money in the coffers. That will definitely help. Poor dude was overshadowed today.

@SD - Picking a Right of center candidate is their best shot. Huntsman would be great. Like you said, though, it will probably alienate the base.

Posted by: Spinny Liberal at June 2, 2011 6:36 PM
Comment #323865

Romney will win the nomination hands down. The social conservative vote will be divided thinly amongst all those candidates, just like in 2008. I’d watch out for Hermain Cain though.

(they are both from Utah)
Although he is a part of the LDS faith, Romney is not from Utah. He was born and raised in Michigan and moved to Massachusetts as an adult in order to attend Harvard University. He did attend BYU as an undergrad though. Posted by: Warped Reality at June 2, 2011 7:02 PM
Comment #323868

Herman Cain has the best going for any candidate.

phx8

Why did you leave Herman Cain out of the pix? His polling is higher that a number of candidates.

Romney will not be there for the finish.

And Obama is a one termer.

Posted by: tom humes at June 2, 2011 7:10 PM
Comment #323873

Tom,
Cain has no experience in holding political office, no national organization, and no money. He’s charismatic, but very unpolished.

KAP,
While you may be tolerant of other religions, many others are not. Remember how there was been a lot of talk about Obama being a closet Muslim? That was for a good reason: those religious slurs work. Then there was more talk about how Obama belonged to a church led by an anti-American pastor, Reverend Wright.

It’s very possible one of Romney’s opponents may go after him based upon his religion. There is a wide open slot on the GOP right for a fundamentalist candidate, and right now, no apparent takers.

Posted by: phx8 at June 2, 2011 7:31 PM
Comment #323874

phx8, If religion is the only thing that people go after a politician for I would say he was lucky, people will find fault from religion to how the candidate wears his pants. People thought that of JFK.

Posted by: KAP at June 2, 2011 7:51 PM
Comment #323880

Funny thing about one of the Tea Party favorites Herb Cain. Did you notice that he is black. Tea party members clearly are not racist, but if we apply the Obama standard anybody who attacks him is.

This election will be a referendum on Obama. His performance has not been stunning. He is a good talker - when he has a teleprompter - but otherwise not so much.

It is becoming clearer that Obama is not intellectually up to the job. He is by vocation an academic and activist, not a leader of all the people.

I understand that Romney is not as slick as Obama and Obama will have a fantastic war chest. But Romney is smarter and more experienced. Maybe the people will have had enough of Obama platitudes and excuses by 2012.

Posted by: C&J at June 2, 2011 8:54 PM
Comment #323890

“But Romney is smarter and more experienced. Maybe the people will have had enough of Obama platitudes and excuses by 2012.”

C&J, I guess your right. Maybe the people will want to elect the actual architect of Obamacare.

Posted by: Rich at June 2, 2011 10:01 PM
Comment #323897

So Herman Cain has never held an elected office. So what!! Everybody who has ever run for an elected position has had the experience of running for the first time. That does not make any difference.

Posted by: tom humes at June 2, 2011 11:07 PM
Comment #323898

What a dismal thought. The unemployment rate is 9% and the repubs can’t field a candidate to win the presidential election. The lack of integrity in the tea/repub party is showing. Not a statesman in the bunch, just slimy politicians at the very best.
What is the difference between this and one party rule?

Posted by: j2t2 at June 2, 2011 11:12 PM
Comment #323903

Tom,
Yes, there is a first time for everything, but people don’t usually start at the top. Cain is interesting and charismatic, but it takes more than that to put together and fund a nationwide political undertaking, and so far, that is not happening.

C&J,
It would be nice to put the racial concerns about the far right to rest, and I would actually like to see Cain get some traction; however, Cain still ranks in the single digits in polling, and no one has actually voted for him yet.

As a liberal, Obama has disappointed me in many respects, yet he strikes me as being a very capable leader. He is not an ideologue. Leadership does not mean inflexibility and dogmatism. Obama leads through conciliation, compromise, and inclusion. That can be tremendously frustrating, but it works well on another level. Obama governs. Not only that, he represents all Americans, and not just a narrow base. With the compromise last fall, he traded maintaining the Bush tax rates in exchange for a lot of legislation. In terms of working with the legislative branch, he and Biden have been very, very good. His cabinet has also performed well.

Is Romney smarter than Obama? I don’t see that. Both are very smart men. I do believe Romney is the most capable of the GOP candidates. Is Romney more experienced? Obama is running for RE-election as president. When it comes to the presidency, that maxes out the experience scale.

This really is the most interesting GOP field of candidates we’ve seen since 1980. Usually, the Republican process of selecting a presidential candidate resembles a coronation more than a competition. Romney looks like this season’s heir apparent, but he is extremely vulnerable on the right to a true believer in social conservatism.

Among the major candidates, only Romney has refused to openly embrace the Ryan budget and the plan to do away with Medicare. The GOP made a major, major political blunder, and that may be devastating if the Democrats can keep the issue alive next year.

Posted by: phx8 at June 3, 2011 12:14 AM
Comment #323904

By the way, has anyone noticed how conservative CNN has become? Last Sunday, David Gregory hosted a group of four pundits for a discussion of Medicare and the Ryan budget. FOX conducted a similar discussion panel. CNN was actually more favorable to the Ryan plan than FOX, with the one token liberal basically agreeing with the three conservatives. On FOX, only one panel member- Juan Williams- openly disagreed with the GOP plan, but that was one more panel member than Gregory’s CNN talking heads.

Posted by: phx8 at June 3, 2011 12:20 AM
Comment #323914

phx8 writes; “Cain has no experience in holding political office, no national organization, and no money. He’s charismatic, but very unpolished.”

Hmmm…reminds me of another Irishman…O’bama. Of course, I forgot Erin’s favorite son’s short stint in the senate which was, if anything, forgettable. As I recall, O’bama didn’t have much of a national organization either until he won a few primaries. The money, however, was always there. As for “polish”, the O’bama not only kissed the “Blarney Stone”, but put a chip of it in his pocket.

I like what Cain has to say and he handled himself very well indeed in the first debate. I prefer someone who is not a retread from 2008.

At this writing there does not appear to be a challenger to O’bama. That could change however if the economy continues to tank. There are plenty of dem/libs who can talk the same tire old bullshit that comes from O’bama’s mouth.

Posted by: Royal Flush at June 3, 2011 12:08 PM
Comment #323916

This, from today’s NY Times.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/03/us/politics/03congress.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha2

“The debt limit would have to be raised $2.4 trillion to carry the government through 2012.”

That amount of money struck me as simply awesome. $2.4 trillion in additional debt to carry us thru for another 18 months. If my arithmetic is correct, that’s $133.3 billion per month. Or, as I prefer to write in millions when it comes to government money, that’s $133,000 million per month.

Some say we need to tax the rich to balance our budget. Do we have enough rich to soak to match money being spent at this horrendous rate? If so, where are they all?

Can any of the dem/libs on Watchblog still declare that the US needs to spend more money, or that we have not already spent more than enough?

Posted by: Royal Flush at June 3, 2011 1:02 PM
Comment #323918

The debt ceiling needs to be raised.

That said, I’ll concede that we need to rein in spending. Let’s start with the military. =)

Posted by: Spinny Liberal at June 3, 2011 1:34 PM
Comment #323919

RF,
You write: “As I recall, O’bama didn’t have much of a national organization either until he won a few primaries.”

It was precisely Obama’s political skills and ability to create a national organization, staff it with the right people, and develop a winning strategy than enabled him to win those early primaries. He defeated a very formidable opponent, Hillary Clinton, who was considered a lock until Obama exploited the weakness in her strategy. Hillary ignored the small state primaries and concentrated her resources in big state primaries. Incredibly, Obama won small state after small state until he amassed enough momentum and delegates to actually defeat Hillary, and win the nomination. Not only did he defeat Hillary, he did it with enough grace that she became his very able Secretary of State.

Spinny,
Until politicians begin talking about spending and revenues and military spending, I take it the entire exercise is a conservative attack on Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid. When conservatives include cuts to the military and tax increases, then I will know they are serious about the deficit, and that is the time to talk and hammer out some compromises.

I am concerned about the use of the debt ceiling as a weapon. The conservative GOP is threatening us all with a depression if they do not get their way, and see their ideology put into practice again… cause, you know, it worked so well under Bush. Snort.

Posted by: phx8 at June 3, 2011 1:47 PM
Comment #323920

The link Spinny provided, written by Robert Reich, includes this quote:

“To continue paying interest on the federal debt and avoiding a default, the government will have to cut spending by about 35 percent, about $3.8 billion a day.”

I would ask my dem/lib friends, isn’t currently paying $3.8 billion per day on debt enough? Simple algebra tells us that adding another $2.4 trillion in debt will increase our daily interest payment from $3.8 to $4.43 billion per day.

Keep in mind, this gargantuan daily interest payment is at current low interest rates. What would the daily interest bill be if interest rates were to rise by 1% or 2%? Don’t think that can happen. Sorry, but there is considerable evidence that interest rate hikes are in our near future along with inflation.

The easy “fix” of increasing the debt limit and raising taxes appeals to those with no skin in the game. In Texas, we refer to such folks as…”All hat, no cattle”.

I understand that “interest group” liberals must continue the shell game of spending money we don’t have to keep the votes of those receiving the government largess. Just where do they believe that will lead?

And yes, I do understand that the reps also have their favorite interest groups as well. Congress must face the fact that both sides must give ground. We must end the many subsidies for big business, unions, states and others that just are not cost effective. And, part of the bargain to reduce spending by a few trillion in 10 years must include some higher rates of taxes for the very rich. Some federal agencies must be eliminated and/or severely reduced in size. We can no longer be big spenders buying drinks for everyone in the world. And, our military involvement in many parts of the world should be halted with some advance notice. Next, our military spending can be parred by tens of billions without sacrificing our national security.

This game of “chicken-shit” politics must stop and good governance begin. If we can’t begin to govern with our brain and recognize our national interests today, why would anyone believe it would be easier, or that we would be smarter in five or ten years?

To continue to borrow, print and spend is certainly a recipe for disaster, and definition of…insanity.

Posted by: Royal Flush at June 3, 2011 2:09 PM
Comment #323923

C&J-

Funny thing about one of the Tea Party favorites Herb Cain. Did you notice that he is black. Tea party members clearly are not racist, but if we apply the Obama standard anybody who attacks him is.

1) Doesn’t figure into my thinking.
2) Some. All? No.
3) What’s with this bull****? No, not everybody who attacks Obama is racist. But when somebody talks about him downing a forty ounce when he enjoys a Guinness in Ireland, or puts a bone through is nose in a photoshop image, we need to call it what it is.

And you do need to admit that many of the accusations and insinuations made were indeed meant to play on racial tensions. John McCain certainly didn’t take as much flack for being supported by John Hagee, whose end-time views would be considered extreme by many.

There is a significant element of racism in the opposition to Obama, but I’m not going to generalize as hastily as you have by saying it is the whole affair.

This election will be a referendum on Obama. His performance has not been stunning. He is a good talker - when he has a teleprompter - but otherwise not so much.

If you want somebody you wouldn’t want off teleprompter, try Bush. Is it coincidence that Obama gets bashed, somehow, for being an empty suit who has to be fed lines?

Let me tell you what I believe the deal is here: The Republicans are trying to cancel out the various political liabilities of the Bush administration by piling Bush’s various sins on Obama’s head.

The Economy, the budget, the military problems overseas, America’s sense of weakness, the policies that led to the oil spill, the price of gas, and here, even Bush’s marblemouthed way of speaking. Obama has to be Bush, has to be as bad as Bush so the Republicans can just claim everything was equally bad, and keep the dynamic tension working against them to a minimum.

But who are you kidding? Right now your party is playing chicken with the debt limit, and deliberately sticking to its guns on an issue that is polling sixty to eight against from the outset. Even if Obama is no better than averagely intelligent, he’ll look a lot less foolish in a room full of Republicans.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 3, 2011 3:18 PM
Comment #323924

Royal you seem to forget the reason the debt has become such a burden. When we all enjoyed the Bush era tax cuts while spending huge sums of money for the nation building in Iraq we were running up the national debt. When we privatized parts of Medicare and increased the costs without increasing the rates we pay for medicare we were running up debt. When we increased the military budget this past decade we borrowed to do so. So to say revenue is not a problem is wrong.

Because we are still suffering the economic effects of the previous decade we still need to spend. Lets face it to continue to cut public sector jobs and programs that spend money in this country will only serve to further burden the economy. Medicare/Medicaid, SS, Unemployment and such spend money in this country.


Yet we do need to pay down some debt as soon as we can. So yes taxes on the rich and what is left of the middle class are a necessity as well as is cutting spending on as much as we can of government programs.

Posted by: j2t2 at June 3, 2011 3:25 PM
Comment #323925

j2t2 writes; “Because we are still suffering the economic effects of the previous decade we still need to spend.”

Frankly j2t2, I am not going to participate in the blame game as it is an exercise in futility and won’t change a damn thing. It’s just more “chicken-shit” politics.

We will continue to spend, why would anyone believe differently. I don’t believe however, that we need to spend another $2.4 trillion. We don’t have $2.4 trillion laying around in a slush fund somewhere, we have to borrow it. If congress authorized taking $1 million from every rich person, we would need 2,400,000 of them to reach $2.4 trillion.

According to Bloomberg News, March 16, 2011, we had only 8,400,000 American households with assets of $1 million or more, not including their primary residences and only 1,100,000 having more than $5 million.

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/business/7475023.html

This same report says that total US household wealth at the end of 2010 was $56.8 trillion. If we add another $2.4 trillion to our current debt of $14.5 trillion it would be a total debt of $16.9 trillion by the end of 2012. Do you realize that amount represents almost 30% of all household wealth in the entire United States.

And yet, j2t2 writes…”we still need to spend.” Unbelievable.

Posted by: Royal Flush at June 3, 2011 3:54 PM
Comment #323929

When conservatives include cuts to the military and tax increases, then I will know they are serious about the deficit, and that is the time to talk and hammer out some compromises.

@ph8x - ITA with this. Both sides have to give.

Posted by: Spinny Liberal at June 3, 2011 4:54 PM
Comment #323935
Frankly j2t2, I am not going to participate in the blame game as it is an exercise in futility and won’t change a damn thing. It’s just more “chicken-shit” politics.

You and the Repub/Tea Party both Royal. How convenient it would be if we all just forgot the past and started with a blank slate, now that is chicken shit politics if you ask me, Royal. Not only that but to insist that the world is ending if we don’t shut down most government functions to save ourselves. Throwing our economy into a complete stall to pay down the debt now is chicken shit politics Royal. The extremist far right is using the debt they created in the past decade to end entitlement programs, it is a ruse perpetrated by Conservatives to shrink the government to the size they can drown it in the bath tub.

And yet, j2t2 writes…”we still need to spend.” Unbelievable.

If we, meaning the federal government, stop spending Royal how many of those 8,400,000 households do you think will have that million or more in assets in a few years time? I thinking that when GDP shrinks that much it make effect everyone. How many doctors will see a drop in patients when you guys kill medicare/medicaid? How many hospitals emergency rooms will be overflowing with patients that cannot pay? How many more jobs can we cut before the bottom 95% won’t be paying income taxes? How many more corporate subsidies that ship jobs overseas can we finance before there will be no need to ship the products back here?

If we don’t increase the debt level how many of the same 8,400,000 households will make money when the US defaults on their loans? I am thinking that maybe just maybe the stock and bond markets may slide a bit should that occur.

It is time for the tea party/repubs to stop the politics and realize it will take spending cuts and tax increases, as well as time to fix this “starve the beast” problem.

BTW how many Tea Party/Repubs voted to cut the corporate welfare this past month? How can they be taken seriously?

Posted by: j2t2 at June 3, 2011 5:54 PM
Comment #323982

Obviously j2t2 didn’t read my comment #323920, but instead, just decided to rant against what he imagined my comments were.

Posted by: Royal Flush at June 4, 2011 12:46 PM
Comment #324001

Royal Flush-
Look, letting things get back to normal naturally means keeping America at 8-9% unemployment indefinitely, unless something gives.

Now we’ve seen big job increases recently from the private sector, and big job decreases from the public sector about every month. You’ve been getting your wish on what policy we take on a state and local level, but we’re not getting your desired result.

That’s called you being wrong.

Yes, we do need to spend, because economic activity is not free, and this isn’t like any recession we’ve had recently. This was a deeper recession, caused by an incident that left deeper wounds.

Just admit that an event like this is beyond your experience. Admit you don’t know what else to do than everything that got you in trouble in the first place. I mean, you complain about the debt now, but that’s after years of your party merrily increasing it without anybody saying crap about it.

Admit that the math shows that even if we take your suggestion, even if we pass Ryan’s budget, we’ll still be periodically raising the debt limit. The budget deficit is not going to be disappearing anytime soon.

And lets be clear on this: There is an fiscal cost to having several million taxpayers not paying taxes into the system! Your manageable deficits were manageable because you had the revenues from total employment. Ours are out of control not because Obama made any sudden movies on the spending front, but because we had one of the steepest drops off a cliff in living memory.

Now, you want America to recover in the blood stained rocks. You want us to get used to an economy that makes idle workers of too many.

I want us to do something about the problem we’re in, not just sit and milk it for political benefit.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 4, 2011 7:35 PM
Comment #324007

Royal Did my “rant” hit a little close to home? The way you diverted from what I said made me wonder a bit.

Posted by: j2t2 at June 4, 2011 10:04 PM
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