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2012 Republican Nominee May Rise From Obscurity

As this year's Conservative Political Action Convention (CPAC) winds down today, it has become evident the Republican Party possesses a wealth of articulate and principled conservatives from which to select their 2012 presidential nominee. Interestingly, it also appears the so-called top-tier candidates may not be the GOP's strongest options for defeating Barack Obama. The inclusion of lesser known names into the discussion of attributes and liabilities raises the plausibility that the next Republican nominee will emerge from a current position of relative obscurity.

The Presumptive Front-Runners

Sarah Palin is clearly a bonified conservative, but her percieved devisiveness may trouble Republicans who simply deem her too risky. Her ability to galvanize Republicans in the face of utter vitriol from the left is extremely useful in ideological efforts such as the TEA Party movement, but the "Woe is me" stance only goes so far in a presidential campaign. She may also appear to bring some of the attacks on herself. While she wins arguments with David Letterman and the creators of Family Guy, these dustups undermine her efforts to cultivate a perception of leadership. As the left appear geared to define Republicans as mere obstructionists, it is disappointing that Palin has not used her visibility to help direct the Republican policy agenda.

Mitt Romney poured tremendous resources into his 2008 presidential run and lost to John McCain and Mike Huckabee as Republicans apparently found him unlikeable and an unreliable conservative. In his new book No Apology, Romney supports the TARP bailouts as well as the Obama stimulus and declares that global warming is a "clear and present danger... caused at least in part by human activity." He attributes the banking and housing crisis as an absence of governmental regulation. Romney will be bashed mercilessly by conservative opponents over these progressive positions.

Newt Gingrich has shown a propensity to support big government Republicans over principled conservatives. His succor to statist Dede Scozzafava in the controversial NY-23 congressional race was an enormous gaffe. While he later conceded this was a mistake, he is now endorsing progressive Republican Senator Bob Bennett (UT) who has supported Wall Street and Automaker bailouts. Like Romney, this will not fly amongst conservatives.

Tim Pawlenty has packaged himself much the same as Romney. He won the governorship in liberal Minnesota and, like Romney, has made a considerable shift to the right through his political career. He is not seeking re-election, presumably to devote full attention and resources to a presidential bid. He will likely struggle to emerge from Romney's shadow given the proximity of their moderate positions.

Mike Huckabee's strength in 2008 was his presence as the sole representative of the Christian right. He will surely not have a corner on that market next time around. His brand of conservative populism is unlikely to stand out amongst candidates to the right of him.

Scott Brown is frequently mentioned as a rising political star and possible presidential contender. This borders on the absurd. To his credit, he has unequivocally dismissed such talk and seems focused on his role in the Senate.

The Sleepers

Jim DeMint has been the exegesis of Reagan conservatism. Through his first term, he is the only Senator holding a perfect 100 rating from The American Conservative Union, which sponsors CPAC. His willingness to engage the President directly has elevated his stature. During his speech at CPAC on Thursday, DeMint accused Obama of "selling socialism" and leading a government "teetering toward tyranny." His prediction last fall that the health care bill would be Obama's "Waterloo" created lasting memories. DeMint's leadership in supporting conservative candidates has built important bridges. His Senate Conservatives Fund has contributed $1.2 million to Marco Rubio and other primary candidates in Texas, California and Pennsylvania.

Marco Rubio is a dynamic and genuine conservative whose political stock is likely to soar if he wins this November's election for Florida's open Senate seat. Honored with the opening speech at CPAC, Rubio declared the Democrats are systematically redefining our government, economy and country. Rubio's rapid emergence from obscurity to front-runner over Governor Crist is a testament to the sheer force of his charisma and correct principles.

Mike Pence is also extraordinarily articulate and charismatic. Opening all meetings with a prayer, Pence connects with Christians could effectively win a number of Huckabee supporters. As House Republican Chairman, he has gained exposure and continually espouses that a "great American awakening" is ongoing and could culminate in a Republican takeover of the House in November. Pence describes himself as a Christian, a conservative and a Republican - in that order.

Rick Santorum has not been shy about discussing his interest in seeking the Republican nomination. A stauch supporter of life, Santorum supported Rush Limbaugh's desire to see Obama's policies fail and warned strongly about the burgeoning size of government long before the TEA party movement took hold. He publicly opposed the stimulus bill and renounced support for then-Republican Senator Arlen Spector after its passage. If DeMint and Pence decline to enter the race, Santorum could build a substantial core of support among Christian conservatives.

Haley Barbour is a less dynamic figure, but remains an intelligent and creative political strategist. As Chairman of the Republican Governors Association, Barbour led the party to important victories in New Jersey and Virginia. He was also Chairman of the Republican National Committee when the GOP recaptured both houses of Congress. He also could do well with former Huckabee voters.

Michele Bachmann is not likely to run for president, but she is worth mention as a possible VP candidate sometime down the line. Another strong conservative, Bachmann is sharp and willing to publicly engage the administration.

Other more moderate candidates such as John Thune and George Pataki cannot be ruled out. While it appears Republicans will desire a genuine conservative after the McCain disaster, a moderate could once again be the benefactor if the conservatives split votes among multiple candidates.


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Comments (29)

Once again the Republicans ... (Below threshold)

Once again the Republicans begin the chase for the shiny new toy. Instead of finding a competent politician that has a career of cutting budgets, good governance, leadership, and ability, the Republicans are once again chasing a bunch of unknowns who have little leadership ability, no ability to govern, and ever expanding government.

Maybe someday, conservatives will learn that rewarding success and punishing failure is a better way to find candidates instead of chasing politicains with little record of success.

Let's look at the record of... (Below threshold)

Let's look at the record of Republican presidents during my lifetime.

Dwight Eisenhower was a well known and widely respected WW2 general before he ran for president. Richard Nixon was Eisenhower's Vice President. Ronald Reagan ran for president first in 1976 and was already famous then both for his California governorship and his radio show. George H. W. Bush was Reagan's Vice President.

Then we come to George W. Bush who was relatively unknown as the Governor of Texas. His main competition was lovable loser John McCain who then was the very next Republican Party nominee.

Mitt Romney came in 2nd to McCain in the 2008 primaries. History says he will be the next Republican president. He will certainly be the nominee in 2012.


If your list and options is... (Below threshold)

If your list and options is IT for the GOP in 2012, they had better get busy on the ground work for 2016.

Speaking for myself, a life... (Below threshold)
gary gulrud:

Speaking for myself, a life-long indie from MN and WI(voted for Proxmire and Reagan) execs Romney or Pawlenty will not garner my vote for lack of principle and passion.

GOP machine faithful like Barbour are not attractive to indies.

The last legislator w/out exec experience becoming POTUS should remind us of this as a signal disqualification. Love DeMint and Pence, but Daniels would be a better offer even were he to refuse service.

"but she is worth mention as a possible VP candidate sometime down the line." Indeed.

Rubio is a brighter star than Brown.

The pundit attempts to anal... (Below threshold)

The pundit attempts to analyze Sarah Palin continue to amuse me. Her career as a public servant is over; she will never again hold any major elected office. And y'know what? I think she knows that, and I think she doesn't care. I think she likes what she's doing right now, and she isn't about to give it up for "rebuilding her image" or "guiding the Republican policy agenda" or any other such rot.

Romney will never win because of RomneyCare. That one item on his resume will force him to run way right in the primaries, after which he'll get butchered as a flip-flopper in the general election.

Gingrich or Huckabee -- never. They might win a primary campaign, but never a general one. Too much baggage. Gingrich will never live down the failure of the 1994 Republican Revolution, and Huckabee is too easily caricatured as a nutcase religious fundamentalist.

I looke up and down the Republican Party, and I don't see anybody who has the ability to win in both the primary and the general election campaign. Just like 2008.

It's Huck for me and you di... (Below threshold)

It's Huck for me and you dismissed him too easily. I think you will be surprised at the support he has built through his fox show and the amount of speaking/travelling he has done since 08. Plus his PAC may not be raising tons of money, but he has endorsed key candidate in key states and his grassroots team is working hard. He is smart to fly under the radar with you bloggers. I'll be laughing at all of you when he is the eventual nominee.

George Bush unknown? HUH?</... (Below threshold)
Pretzel Logic:

George Bush unknown? HUH?

Before the last election th... (Below threshold)

Before the last election the buzz was all about Bobby Jindal. Now his name doesn't even make the "maybe" list.

Let me put it this way, Lyn... (Below threshold)

Let me put it this way, Lynn: between Barry Lackwit and a guy who thinks freedom of religion (and presumably the rest of the Constitution) can be sidestepped at will, I'm not at all sure which is the lesser of the two evils.

I suspect I'm not alone in that, either.

Huckabee distinguishes hims... (Below threshold)

Huckabee distinguishes himself from Michael Bloomberg only in that he's active in his Southern Baptist church, and he uses this distinction to mislead Christian Right voters into supporting him.

Mike Huckabee is a faux-con, not a so-con.

One of the things that anno... (Below threshold)

One of the things that annoys me about Gov. Romney is that he either not willing to defend the beliefs of his Church or he thinks that conservative Christians are too stupid to understand that there are large theological differences between Protestant Christianity and Mormonism. It's perfectly reasonable for him to believe something different from me and there are a lot of good and decent people who are not Christians but to state that the two belief systems are the same is a obvious lie that turns off Christians. Many of those Christians are the conservative voters he needs to win over.

Romney is a global warmist?... (Below threshold)

Romney is a global warmist? DOA then.

What about Bobby Jindal? He's a sleeper.

Very high IQ/talent AND a solid conservative. That's the combination we need. We need someone to take a wrecking ball to the leftist institutions in this country and the ability to govern as well.

We need someone to take ... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

We need someone to take a wrecking ball to the leftist institutions in this country.

This indeed, appears to be the primary strategy of the GOP, as described by Caroline Myss. The Republican Strategy: Covert Destruction at all Costs.

The long term Republican agenda is to sabotage this Democratic administration so successfully as to make it appear responsible for all the failures of the Bush administration while simultaneously preventing this administration from accomplishing anything on its own merit, even to the detriment of the good of this nation.

Next, we have Sarah Palin, one of the more covert schemes of the Republican agendas. What makes Sarah part of Republican covert strategy? Simple-Sarah doesn't even realize that she is being used by the Republican brain trust as their Vamp distraction - the poor thing.

The Republican creed of "less government" is in truth one of "corporate government".

Dream on Steve.... (Below threshold)

Dream on Steve.

Umm, no Stevie.Oba... (Below threshold)

Umm, no Stevie.

Obamalama is primarily responsible for his own failures. It is he who is damaging our recovery by creating uncertainty with his push for loony leftist policies.

You can spare your Huffin-and-Puffin propaganda. We ain't buying here.

"Corporate governance", pshaw. Tell that to Barack's BFFs in GE and other biggies.

What is meant by "wrecking ... (Below threshold)

What is meant by "wrecking ball to the leftist institutions" - defund "community groups" like ACORN, denazify the totalitarian indoctrination mills of our educational system, from K through University, defund the National Endowment for the (Liberal Propaganda) Arts, empower individuals and families with choices in healthcare, education, and taxation and encourage small businessmen and entrepreurs to put this country back on track. The taxpayer subsidized march to socialism is over, buddy.

entrepreurs=entrepreneurs</... (Below threshold)


JB your advertised, populi... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

JB your advertised, populist, 5th avenue, 50 thousand dollar, Sak's dressed with accessories, Sarah Palin, if she has a coherent political philosophy (that would be elitist), is in at least two major ways, much more socialist than Obama.

Sarah Palin just presided a huge redistribution of wealth when she signed an energy "rebate" of $1,200 for every man, woman and child in Alaska. The money for that wealth redistribution comes from our collective wealth, which we have thanks to our state (Alaska's) constitution ... The framers of our constitution wisely didn't want state resources to be privatized, as they are in Texas, for example, where the people of that state are separated from their wealth by billionaires. Thanks to the framers of our state's constitution, our collective ownership of state resources guarantees low taxes and high revenues, not to mention a Permanent Fund dividend program, another socialist scheme that gave each Alaskan over $2,000 this year ... Truth be told, when Gov. Palin redistributes the wealth held in common by the people of Alaska, she is fulfilling the socialist dream of many of Alaska's pioneers.

Secondly, with Palin´s enthusiastic support for Medicare, she implies that she would like to provide essentially unlimited government coverage for her 'child with down syndrome' as well as her parents".

On paper, Rudy would be a g... (Below threshold)
Sean P:

On paper, Rudy would be a great bet (strong fiscal conservative, significant executive leadership accomplishments and credibility, if not necessarily experience, on foreign policy), but I fear his lengthy absense from elected office and the stink of failure brought by his poor showing in the '08 primaries, seals his fate as the top of the ticket nominee (still holding out hope he'll be nominated as veep though).

And that's the problem with this crop. The potential nominees are either too green to make a run in '12 (Jindal, Cantor, Christie, Brown), damaged goods due to prior campaign and/or policy positions (Giuliani, Romney, Huckabee, Gingrich), or both (Palin). Hopefully Pence can live up to his hype because if he doesn't I really don't see any credible alternative.

Steve Crickmore,Yo... (Below threshold)
Sheik Yur Bouty:

Steve Crickmore,

You are either dishonest or an idiot, which is it?

The Alaska Oil Dividend has been in place since the early 1980's.




Taking advice from you (or any other of the resident Trolls) about a Republican nominee would be like the farmer taking advice from the fox on how best to secure the chicken coop.

So, you're just wasting your time and ours.

Alan,"her percieve... (Below threshold)
Sheik Yur Bouty:


"her percieved devisiveness" is a smoke screen perpetrated by the far left out of fear.

"may trouble Republicans who simply deem her too risky" these are the stupid chicken little RINOs who keep saying we need to move to the left to save the party.

"but the "Woe is me" stance only goes so far in a presidential campaign" I must have missed it, because I don't recall any 'woe is me' from Palin...EVER

"While she wins arguments with David Letterman and the creators of Family Guy, these dustups undermine her efforts to cultivate a perception of leadership." The whole 'not responding to your critics' bag was shown to be a colossal failure of the Bush administration. These lefty bastards won't just go away if you ignore them.

"As the left appear geared to define Republicans as mere obstructionists, it is disappointing that Palin has not used her visibility to help direct the Republican policy agenda." What the hell are you talking about? She most certainly has used her visibility to define an agenda. Just see her posts on Facebook for good examples. If the brain dead morons in Republican leadership ignore that, well, that's there mistake.


[email protected]#$ there = their at the e... (Below threshold)
Sheik Yur Bouty:

[email protected]#$ there = their at the end of last post

Sarah Palin isn't my "front... (Below threshold)

Sarah Palin isn't my "frontrunner", douchebag.

And, btw, here's what some conservatives think of your deceitful whines about "corporate governance":


Sheik, I wasn't talking abo... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Sheik, I wasn't talking about the energy dividend, but the $1,200 redistributive, 'one off' energy rebate Palin introduced to Alaskans in 2008, in addition to receiving the oil dividend. Not bad, sounds like sound socialist or government social democratic policy to me. Of course, this was before Palin became worried about defining a 180 degree reverse to the Dems, strict national GOP capitalist agenda as many such as you are preoccupied with.

If United States of America... (Below threshold)

If United States of America's President and Armed Forces Commander In Chief-Elect Sarah Louise Heath Ronald Wilson Reagan Palin wants to take the "Elect" from her job description, I will bet New york City to a single brick the gig's already hers!


The ticket should be Romney... (Below threshold)

The ticket should be Romney/Pawlenty. Period.

Unless we can secure our el... (Below threshold)

Unless we can secure our election process before 2012, none of this will matter.

Soros and his "chose decline" gang are doing more than sucking up our assets. Realizing that we are onto their Acorn type shenanigans, they are going after the election higher ups, the Secretary of States. They are putting their men in so they can influence the results of presidential and congressional elections.

Annita, the Acorn whistle blower, has given us the heads up. Here is a link to their "Secretary of State project" website.

A clip from the site:... (Below threshold)

A clip from the site:

To Our SoS Project Supporters -

Since we launched in the fall of 2005, we have engaged in eleven races and have backed the winning candidate in nine states...

We are proud of our 2006 victory in Minnesota, where long time reformer Mark Ritchie pulled off a major upset, with our support. He... oversaw the recount of the Franken/Coleman senatorial race... finally sending Franken to the Senate, where his vote is much needed.

With your support, we have made a major difference. We can be sure that the Republicans and the opponents of honest elections will try triply hard to regain lost seats and capture seats held by reformers.

- The Secretary of State Project"

IMO the nominee will not be... (Below threshold)

IMO the nominee will not be from the current batch. Also the nominee will be much more conservative than McCain or Romney.

IMO many are going overboard on what is meant by "obscurity". In this context, it usually means someone who is not being considered likely as a possible candidate at this moment. It has nothing to do with if someone has political experience or not.






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