Saturday, May 28, 2011

Race for the White House 2012

As the incumbent President spent most of the week in Europe, both speaking in front of large, excited crowds, and taking part in a couple of relatively minor protocol gaffes (which would have gotten far more attention if George W. Bush had been President), the field of Republicans who want his job continue to look both clearer and unclear in many regards.

Early Sunday, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, citing family reasons, announced he would not be seeking the White House. That put an end to much speculation and hope of establishment Republican types who believed he would have been the best candidate for the party to put up. Both Tim Pawlenty and Jon Huntsman are hoping to benefit from the party establishment types who are looking to someone to support who is not Mitt Romney. Those three men comprise a troika of the only candidates whom some consider to have a realistic shot of capturing the nomination.

After having announced his bid last week to some relatively large notice, Herman Cain was tripped up a bit on a Sunday morning Fox News appearance, in which he seemed to not be aware of an issue related to the Israeli- Palestinian disputes. That caused many conservatives to consider he was perhaps not ready for prime time after all, while others applauded his candor in admitting later on that he was unaware of the issue, and that he would not pretend to know everything.

Michele Bachmann, who was initially going to announce her candidacy this past week, has now pushed back the announcement until June, when Rick Santorum will also formally enter the race. More significantly, the man many consider to be the Republican frontrunner, Mitt Romney himself, will formally declare his candidacy this coming Thursday in the First in the Nation Primary State of New Hampshire.

With those candidates who have announced exploratory committees now having announced, and with others having taken themselves out of consideration, the field seems to be crystallizing. However, many in the GOP and in the media continue to talk about other candidates, potentially jumping into the fray late. This past week, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has reiterated that he is flattered for the consideration but will not run. Another Floridian, who might once again be subject to some "draft" whispers is freshman Senator Marco Rubio. In many ways, a potential Presidential candidacy of Rubio would be the GOP version of how many in the Democrat Party embraced an early Barack Obama bid, once he first came to Washington. Rubio has flatly ruled out a bid though, and has also said (for now) that he would not agree to run for Vice President either.

With Mitch Daniels out of the running now, there are expected to be increased calls placed to two politicians, who have previously denied all interest in a 2012 run; New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and House Budget Chair Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Many conservative blogger types are quite hopeful that those two physically dissimilar gentleman might change their mind, and some are quite certain, that Ryan perhaps might be more willing to do so. My belief is that neither will run.

Making some more news on the potential late entrant front though are two other names, former New York City Mayor and one time 2008 GOP frontrunner Rudy Giuliani, and a man who had supported "America's Mayor" during that primary run, veteran Texas Governor Rick Perry. Associates of Giuliani now say that he is "inclined" to run, and there has been a story printed about how he is motivated to somehow stop a Romney candidacy in New Hampshire. Rudy has gone down this road before though in flirting with bids for office and based on his business commitments and the unlikelihood of his getting the nomination (despite very high name recognition in current polls) is unlikely to run. The Perry camp is sending mixed messages, as the Governor has previously ruled out a bid, but late this week told reporters he will "think" about it after his state's legislative session ends. Some are convinced that Perry will run, while others think he was being just a bit coy in teasing a bid, and is not serious. I will be at least somewhat surprised if he runs.

I would also be fairly surprised if my party's 2008 Vice Presidential nominee runs, but I do fully expect Sarah Palin to appear to be "open" to the possibility of running for President for most of the rest of this year. There is much attention being given to her plans to take a bus tour of the eastern part of the U.S. starting off on this Memorial Day weekend, and comparisons are being made to it as an exploratory effort. She is also reportedly in the process of buying a home in Arizona, a state which has not exactly seen success in producing Presidential candidates in either party. Palin has stated that she has the "fire in the belly" to be involved in the debate, but a run would mean the end of her television projects and could be a very risky proposition. As long as she remains the subject of speculation though, much political oxygen is denied to other candidates who may want to run. If she were to pull the trigger, it would probably be a very positive strategic development to the Romney campaign, as people like Pawlenty would find it tougher to break through as an alternative. When all is said and done though, I do not think Palin will run.

Happy Memorial Day.