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Posts Tagged ‘2012’

Gingrich Next Flavor of the Week?

November 7th, 2011 No comments

While I would love to really get my hands dirty with a more substantive topic, the “Dumb and Dumber”-inspired GOP nomination race is really the least depressing thing to pay attention to in politics right now. So I’d like to bring to your attention a theory for what might be the next piece of news the media will be obsessively caressing and calling its “precious.”

If you’ve been following the Republican presidential nomination circus or following my blog, you might have noticed a pattern. In the beginning there was the Candidate, and the Candidate was Romney. He led the field with a whopping… less than 23% support in the polls. Then Michele Bachmann appeared! Out of nowhere she rose to 2nd place and was a major challenger and was going to win Iowa and… then her support collapsed. But then there was Rick Perry! Out of nowhere he rose to 1st place in the polls and was the new front runner and was going to beat Romney and… then he sucked at debating. Now Herman Cain has appeared!

I think you see where this is going. Herman Cain is currently in the lead, but a few gaffes (like appearing to be pro-choice), and now the revelation that there were multiple sexual harassment charges filed against him in the 90’s, are likely to take a toll. I’m wondering how long it is before the new golden boy is abandoned in search of another.

Now I know you probably read the title of this post and thought, “Gingrich? Is he even still around?” But hear me out. Even though Newt Gingrich sounds like a Dr. Seuss villain and mostly seems like an awful human being, he has a number of things going for him. He’s a good debater and can create soundbites. He has name recognition and a little bit of insider clout left. He has past experience and leadership credentials. Perhaps most importantly, he was actually the early 2nd place contender before the race heated up, which means there is already a decent base of people who would consider supporting him.

There has been a very slight uptick in media talk about Newt Gingrich lately, and his poll numbers have recovered a bit from their single-digit lows. He’s barely third now, behind Cain and Romney. Which has gotten me thinking… next flavor of the week?

Now, there’s also a ton of reasons not to expect Gingrich to catch on fire. Not the least of which include poor campaign management, desertion of campaign staff, that time he shut down the government in 1995, and that time he had an affair and divorced his first wife so that he could have an affair and divorce his second wife.

Still, I wouldn’t count him out. Oh wait, let me rephrase that. Newt Gingrich isn’t going to win the nomination. But he stands a chance to catapult into the media limelight for a little bit while the Republicans consider another candidate who warrants considering because HE ISN”T MITT ROMNEY. The upshot of all this is you might get to spend a little more time seeing this around:

Newt Gingrich's head next to a Lego version of Newt Gingrich's head

You heard it here first.

Categories: Primaries Tags: , , , ,

Mike Huck Down: The Battle for Iowa

May 22nd, 2011 1 comment
Mike Huckabee

With the electric bass-playing, Iowa-winning, obesity-fighting, charismatic former governor and Southern Baptist minister Mike Huckabee declining to run, who will fill his void?

The most important event to date in the 2012 GOP nominating process occurred last weekend, and I believe it has already passed for most of the public with relatively little fanfare. That event was the announcement by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee that he would not be running for president. As the two runners-up from the Republicans’ last presidential nomination, and the two most consistently high in the polls, I was fairly certain that the race would come down to Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee if they both ran.

Now the race is essentially: “Is there anyone better than Mitt Romney? Please? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?”

Perhaps most importantly, Huckabee’s exit means that the race for Iowa (the first contest and one of the most important) is wide open. Huckabee surprised everyone by coming out of nowhere to win Iowa last time. His sincerity, populism, and religiosity played well among the heavily evangelical voters that represented around 60% of Republican caucus-goers in 2008 Iowa. Without the anointed Huckabee, however, these heartland evangelicals are now casting around for a Romney-alternative who can speak to their hearts and their guts.

Why is this such a big deal? Because almost every candidate besides Mitt Romney has only one path to the nomination, and it runs through Iowa.

Let me lay it out for you. There are three early contests that matter for Republicans: Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina (sorry Nevada – no one cares). Historically, Iowa has voted for a candidate, then New Hampshire has said, “Screw Iowa,” and chosen a different one, and then South Carolina has decided between the two, with the rest of the country following suit. Since Romney has a pretty strong lockdown on New Hampshire, the other contenders are counting on Iowa to catapult them into the front of the pack. Furthermore, for the candidates without national name-recognition (pretty much all of them), Iowa is their last chance to gain the limelight, without which, they are just yesterday’s toast.

Obviously, the process doesn’t have to follow the expected script. A second-place winner in Iowa or New Hampshire could leverage that to unexpected wins over a still-undecided base, like Bill Clinton did in 1992, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Nominations for the Democratic Party tend to be much less predictable than for the Republicans.

So who has the best shot at snatching Iowa now? A flashy, socially-conservative populist who appeals to the base and doesn’t mind coming off as a dick to most rational people. Hey – is Donald Trump still in? No? Ok, basically I’d watch these four: Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich…. ok, ok, and Sarah Palin if she runs, but honestly I just don’t see it happening at this point. She would have to have at least the skeleton of a possible operation in Iowa, which does not seem to be the case.

As far as other candidates, don’t be surprised if Ron Paul does better than expected, considering that he was a libertarian before it was cool. That being said, his consistent principles pretty much guarantee that he’ll still go nowhere in the Republican primaries. I guess Tim Pawlenty still has a chance if the Republican Party spends months arguing about what flavor to choose before giving up and just going with vanilla. Wait, you don’t know who Tim Pawlenty is? Bummer, because he doesn’t even interest me enough to find a link to insert.

That leaves Jon Huntsman as the only other candidate worth mentioning. He’s a competent, reasonable, moderate Republican who accepted Obama’s offer to serve as ambassador to China. Sadly, the very things that make him (in my opinion) the most viable opponent against Obama are the same ones that will doom his chances in Iowa. I guess if he weren’t Mormon, he could at least make a good running mate for Romney.

Jan Luyken's illustration of the Rapture described in Matthew 24:40, from the Bowyer Bible.

The Rapture: the real reason Huckabee decided not to run?

And that, to be honest, is how I see the whole shindig at this point: tryouts for Mitt Romney’s running mate. Because as awful a candidate as Mitt Romney is, he’s all that the Republicans have got now that Huckabee’s out. So I wish all the no-name candidates good luck in their battle for Iowa. It probably won’t matter.

In other news, I was thinking about getting raptured today, but I used God’s name in vain earlier just to be sure I could finish this blog post. You’re welcome.

Stacking Up the Competition

March 13th, 2011 2 comments

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.