Saturday, April 02, 2011

Race for the White House 2012

Another week of developments and emerging story lines, but no huge story. The U.S. military involvement in Libya continues to garner much attention. Tracking poll data indicates that Barack Obama's Monday evening speech laying out the rationale for action had little effect on public opinion. Overall, the President's job approval numbers ended March down a few points from where they were at the beginning of the month. In about a week, we will see whether the relatively modest drop in unemployment increases economic confidence and Obama's numbers.

Inside the Beltway, both parties wrangle over budget negotiations and the possibility of a government shutdown. Some Democrats have become more vocal in expressing a wish for a shutdown to occur in order to politically damage Republicans and bolster a Democrat President, as what happened under similar circumstances in 1995. We will have to see what will happen, but I am of the opinion that a widespread shutdown will eventually be averted and the GOP majority in Congress will get most of what they want as compared to Congressional Democrats and the President.

On the 2012 front, Donald Trump made a lot of noise in media appearances this past week. He really wants people to believe he is serious he is running for President. With an eye towards social conservatives, "The Donald" has now adopted a new Pro-Life position on abortion and has expressed his opposition to same sex marriage. Getting even more attention is that Trump seems intent on being the most vocal "birther" in the country, saying he has serious suspicions as to where Obama was born and if he is eligible to hold office.

For one thing, I wonder if he truly believes what he is saying on that matter or is simply thinking about the press he would earn or potential ratings for his Celebrity Apprentice reality show on NBC. Some others in the conservative movement may question if Trump's wacky pronouncements and theories might mean he is truly a plant of the left in order to tarnish other Republicans by association. I do not think Trump will ultimately run for President, as a Republican or otherwise, but with his wealth, name recognition, ego, and populist rhetoric on economic matters in regards to China and whatnot, I could theoretically envision a situation where he could have somewhat of an Independent Ross Perot like impact on next year's election.

As for Republicans, the eccentric former Governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson is said to be close to an outright campaign announcement. His candidacy would seem to be sharing libertarian airspace in the GOP with that of the movement's leader, Texas Congressman Ron Paul. Interestingly enough, Paul's son, the recently elected Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has said he is likely to run for the Presidential nomination if his father does not. Neither one of them (nor Johnson) will be the GOP nominee, and it may be a bit soon for Rand to be a serious candidate, but I think he would be a more attractive option to many in the party than his father at this point.

As for other GOP hopefuls, the former Alabama Supreme Court Justice and champion of the Ten Commandments Roy Moore is said to be considering his first Presidential bid, after two failed attempts to be the GOP nominee for Governor of his state. Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann has released impressive first quarter fundraising numbers for her PAC indicating the potential for her to be a well-funded Presidential candidate. In fact, her PAC outdid that of other potential GOP candidates, including Mitt Romney. However, the Romney PAC activity has been more focused on giving it's remaining money to other GOP politicians, as Romney is said to be opening a Presidential campaign account later on this month.

Finally, the first GOP candidates' debate, scheduled for early May at the Reagan Library in California has now been pushed back to September, as there are not currently a significant field of active candidates who would be prepared to participate. I think there will be other GOP debates and forums in the not too distant future, but it might be composed entirely of the more long-shot hopefuls in the field.

Personally, I am glad that the May debate at Reagan Library is off for now. If it were on, I would have to find a way to watch it. Instead, I can keep more focus on NHL and NBA playoffs, as well as American Idol.