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Looking At 2012

Democratic strategist Ed Kilgore looks at how the 2012 Republican primary race is shaking out.  I think his take is a bit concern trollish, but I think he is right about how big of a problem the family resemblance between Obamacare and Romneycare will be for Romney.  Huckabee would seem to have the clearest path to the nomination.  His social conservatism is articulate, authentic, and a strength rather than a weakness.  He talks the populist economic rap as well as anyone.  He is very likeable.  His biggest weakness is that I haven't seen him take a hard shot on the FairTax.  I'm not sure how well his support holds up when it becomes clear he wants to slap on a 30% sales tax.  I'm not sure Palin is running, and I'm not sure how well she would do in a crowded primary.  It isn't that I think she would do badly in the Republican debates (she knows her audience), but I do think she risks being diminished if she doesn't do great and seems no better than solid performers like Huckabee and Mike Pence.  Gingrich's personal history will probably keep him from the nomination.

I think that all of the Republicans who are currently polling best are vulnerable to bleeding support as the nomination contest unfolds.  There is plenty of space for a not-very-well-known candidate to emerge from the Republican presidential debates of 2011 and become the anti-Huck/anti-Romney/anti-Palin/anti-Gingrich.  They will have to seem more authentically conservative than Romney, more orthodox on taxes than Huckabee, more electable than Palin, and less baggage-encrusted than Gingrich.  Who will it be?  Well, maybe no one, but it depends on who runs.  I would prefer it were Mitch Daniels, but I think John Thune and Mike Pence are better positioned to hit that sweet spot of being the freshest, most conservative, most (seemingly) electable candidate who is acceptable to the most kinds of Republican primary voters.  

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Discussions - 11 Comments

Pete, do you think Republicans would nominate (or Americans would elect) another president straight from Congress who has no executive experience? Hasn't worked well with Obama ...

Rick, I dunno. Depending on the governor, I hope you are right. I also think other factors matter. If the choice in the latter primaries comes down to the executive experience-heavy Romney with all his convenient policy changes, and the fact that his main policy innovation as governor was Romneycare against a Mike Pence, then questions of policy and authenticity might override questions of executive experience.

I agree with your observation about Obama, but he has, to my mind, worked out all too well at advancing his policies. Depending how things turn out in the labor market (and as today's events remind us) in foreign policy, the public might think Obama turned out well enough to give him a serious look for reelection.

Pete, why do you prefer Mitch Daniels to Thune and Pence? Daniels may be great on fiscal and economic issues (which, I'll grant you, are of greatest salience now), but he has a demonstrated tin ear for dealing with hot button issues and, having watched a speech of his, he seems to me unlikely to appeal to ordinary voters, either in the base or in the general electorate. From what I've read, other than on money issues, he seems to be an unimaginative, uncharismatic, standard issue RINO/mainstream Republican. Also, can he address foreign policy or national security with any authority? In sum, he strikes me as well-suited for a governorship, but not for the presidency.

ron paul

Way off base - Chris Christie or Herman Cain, who refers himself as the dark horse. Herman Cain destroyed Bill Clinton in a 1994 discussion on health care reform. He has the ability to the same to Obamacare which will be a big issue in 2012.

djf, interesting points and I'm thinking abut building a longish post around them in the next couple of days. Is it okay if I quote your comment and refer to you by your initials in the post?

cowgirl, I believe Christie when he says he won't run for President (whether he says no to an offer of Vice President...), but he would be a force if he chose to run. Cain lost a race for the Republican Senate nomination in Georgia to Johnny Isakson. I don't see why he would do better nationally against better competition. He has the same FairTax problem as Huckabee, but is much less well known.

Huckabee is a muppet. While I don't find him to be a serious man (he seemed more surprised than anyone that he made it as far as he did in seeking the nomination), we could nominate worse (ie Palin) but whoever it is there's no doubt the Right will rally behind them. There's just something about a candidate who gets a TV show that makes me instantly not want to vote for them.

I keep hearing about this Rubio fella down in Florida. Any thoughts on that (and forget experience as a qualifier -- look at Obama).

Just wait on Christie. There is still time. Obama was an unknown who basically got national attention because he was Africian-American and could speak well. He is now the failing President of the United States, but he is the President. Cain speaks well, far far better than Obama. Cain rocks the house whenever he goes. Furthermore, he has way more experience than Obama. Just because he lost a race, doesn't mean he can't win. Given how bad of shape this country is in right now - anything can happen.

Right on Cristie - it really is up to him. I don't think you are taking into account the way in which Obama's rhetoric (which was geared to several differernt kinds of Democratic-leaning groups and swing voters) and other elements like his personality, ability to organize campaigns, etc.) interacted to give him a real chance to get elected President. Jesse Jackson and Alan Keyes are also African Americans with reputations for being excellent speakers. And they are! They just don't have the right rhetoric, and other personal elements to win over a large enough audience to have a decent shot at being elected President. Jesse Jackson's appeal was limited primarily to African Americans and some white radical leftists. Keyes's appeal was limited to a very small subgroup of self-identified conservatives. I've seen Cain on tv abut a dozen or so times in the last ten years. At best, he doesn't seem to be any better than Huckabee or Pence. Though it is a free country and his record in business, economics, and lobbying/political activism, along with his ties to the right-leaning media would at least get him into the early (pre-New Hampshire Primary) debates. He might pop, but the FairTax thing will still be a problem if he starts getting close to winning the nomination (hardly anyone will hear of it if he is just another also ran.)

Disagree with you on Cain. He would wipe Obama up with a mope in a debate any day and twice on Sunday.

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