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Stacking Up the Competition

Potential Republican candidates seem hesitant to announce any presidential aspirations, and the race is already starting (or continuing to not start) much later than in past cycles. In the midst of all of this hemming and hawing and aw-shucks-I-don’t-know maneuvering, a tentative outline of Obama’s would-be challengers are starting to come into focus. This is how the competition stacks up so far:

Mitt Romney smilingMitt Romney
Horse Race Status: Early frontrunner
Likelihood of Running: Almost certain
Credentials: Former Gov. of Massachusetts, ran for Prez in 2008, former CEO of Bain Capital
Strengths: Fundraising, good looks, economic chops, being seen as “electable”
Weaknesses: Mormonism, health care law he passed in MA

Photo of Mike HuckabeeMike Huckabee
Horse Race Status: Early frontrunner
Likelihood of Running: Likely
Credentials: Former Gov. of Arkansas, ran for Prez in 2008
Strengths: Likability, public speaking, fact that he’s an ordained minister
Weaknesses: Fundraising, lack of insider support

Photo of Tim PawlentyTim Pawlenty
Horse Race Status: Dark horse
Likelihood of Running: Almost certain
Credentials: Former Gov. of Minnesota
Strengths: Doing & saying all the right things
Weaknesses: Just seems to lack the “it” factor

Photo of Sarah PalinSarah Palin
Horse Race Status: Overhyped, 2nd tier
Likelihood of Running: Who knows
Credentials: 1/2 term former Gov. of Alaska, McCain’s running mate in 2008
Strengths: GOP base loves her
Weaknesses: Dumb as a bucket of fish

Photo of Newt GingrichNewt Gingrich
Horse Race Status: 2nd tier
Likelihood of Running: Almost certain
Credentials: Former Speaker of the House
Strengths: Political shrewdness, convincing salesman
Weaknesses: History of infidelity, image as Washington insider

Michele Bachmann
Horse Race Status: Wild card
Likelihood of Running: Unclear
Credentials: Minnesota House Rep. & founder of Tea Party Caucus
Strengths: Strong Tea Party support
Weaknesses: Completely batcrap insane

Photo of Rick SantorumRick Santorum
Horse Race Status: Back of the pack
Likelihood of Running: Very Likely
Credentials: Former Sen. of Pennsylvania
Strengths: Conservative on all counts
Weaknesses: Google “Santorum”

Photo of Ron PaulRon Paul
Horse Race Status: Back of the pack
Likelihood of Running: 50/50
Credentials: Texas House Rep., ran for Prez in 2008 (as Republican) & 1988 (as Libertarian)
Strengths: Active & loyal supporters, consistent libertarian values
Weaknesses: Not taken seriously, lack of insider support

Photo of Herman CainHerman Cain
Horse Race Status: Wild card
Likelihood of Running: Unclear
Credentials: Radio talk-show host & former CEO of Godfather Pizza
Strengths: Tea Party darling
Weaknesses: See credentials
(Photo: Courtesy of Gage Skidmore)

Photo of Haley BarbourHaley Barbour
Horse Race Status: Back of the pack
Likelihood of Running: Likely
Credentials: Gov. of Mississippi
Strengths: Southern Conservatism
Weaknesses: History as a lobbyist, past racial scandals

Photo of Mitch DanielsMitch Daniels
Horse Race Status: Dark horse
Likelihood of Running: Less likely
Credentials: Gov. of Indiana, served in Bush Jr.’s cabinet
Strengths: Baby-blue eyes, political insiders see potential
Weaknesses: Mitch who?

Photo of Jon HuntsmanJon Huntsman
Horse Race Status: Back of the pack
Likelihood of Running: Very Likely
Credentials: Ambassador to China, former Gov. Utah
Strengths: Foreign policy experience
Weaknesses: Will have worked for Obama for two years (explain that to Tea Party)

Photo of Buddy RoemerBuddy Roemer
Horse Race Status: Back of the pack
Likelihood of Running: Very likely
Credentials: CEO of Business First Bank, former Gov. of Louisiana
Strengths: Named “Buddy”?
Weaknesses: Last political position was 20 years ago, used to be a Democrat

Special mentions:
Donald Trump – acts like he’s seriously considering running. God help us.
Jimmy McMillan – yes, the “The Rent is Too Damn High” guy says he’s going to run as a Republican for president in 2012. Get ready for “the deficit is too damn high.”

Personal notes:
In my opinion, Mitt Romney is the guy to beat. His economic message is giving him an edge in credibility, and therefore fundraising. In elections, fundraising success breeds more fundraising success, which lends more credibility, so Romney is in an upward cycle unless someone breaks it.
Still, someone could do just that, and I think Huckabee, Pawlenty, or maybe possibly Gingrich or Barbour are the only ones that might have a chance.
Conversely, I think the only candidates that could give Obama a run for his money in a general election are Romney, Huckabee, and maybe Jon Huntsman.

In short, I would watch Romney and Huckabee. One of them is extremely likely to be the nominee. If Huckabee declines to run, I would have trouble seeing anything other than a Romney-Pawlenty ticket or something very similar.

  1. Julie R.
    March 15th, 2011 at 19:50 | #1

    1. If romney has a strength of good looking, same should apply to the idiot Palin. Just saying 2. As a PA resident, your critic of Santorum is dead on….beyond moron to seriously, dangerously crazy 3. I’m just learning about Mitch Daniel’s, but NPR seems to have adopted him as the least terrible choice in case their greatest fear, a Republican return, occurs 4. Can you even imagine saying “President Huntsman”

  2. David Brisson
    March 21st, 2011 at 00:58 | #2

    @Julie R.
    1. Touché. I think it’s interesting that while McCain’s choice of Palin did not pull in many new women voters, Palin does seem to maintain a higher approval rating among men…
    2. Yeah, Santorum scares me.
    3. Mitch Daniels probably isn’t “fire and brimstone” enough to win a GOP primary even if he wanted to.
    4. Jon Huntsman is a pretty awesome name for a number of professions other than President of the United States (for example, whitewater kayak instructor).

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