The President became the official first candidate to file the necessary papers to run for re-election the other day, though the campaign has been going on for longer than that on the GOP side. It’s a sign of the times, I guess, that the amounts of money that have to be raised, and the media images that have to be cast have caused presidential campaigns to lengthen considerably compared to past history. It is an important decision, and while there is danger of people getting bored with campaigning, and voter “burnout,” overall, it does allow for a lot of information to be made available to voters. BTW, “birthers” are going to be disappointed again, since the election commission is apparently satisfied that the President’s place of birth, or the status of his native-born citizenship, is not in question.
The GOP’s popularity has waned somewhat since their November 2010 successes in the Congressional elections, according to the polls. What I call the “blitz” of the lame duck Congress of 2010 contributed to a boost in the President’s personal popularity, and his job approval rating, now back above 50% in most credible polls. His handling of Libya also seems to be giving him a boost. At any rate, the Republicans have a tough task ahead of them if they want to win the White House in 2012, beginning with the difficult task of sorting through their ranks and choosing a nominee from among what might turn out to be more than a dozen potential candidates.
My personal favorite is Mike Huckabee. I think he represents the best of what the Republicans have to offer in terms of both leadership and policy position. He’s a former Southern Baptist pastor, and former Governor of Arkansas who doesn’t follow the corporate line of his party. He seems genuinely concerned about people, and his economic policy, focused on what he calls the “fair tax,” is really fair, which is probably why the corporate heads favor Romney or Trump. They want a candidate who will continue to exempt major corporations from paying taxes (see the previous blog). His energy policy is reasonable. But it is the fact that, in my observation, he brings his faith to everything he does, that earns my respect for him. Aside from that, most polls show him as the only Republican candidate with even a slight chance of winning in 2012.
I believe Mit Romney brings two major liabilities to the table. One is that he is a corporate sell-out. He’d continue the policy of exempting billion dollar corporations from taxes, and in fact, paying them billions in tax dollars as “incentives” or in some kind of abatement scheme. The other is that he is a Mormon, which weakens the support of religious conservatives in the GOP. The fact of the matter is that a lot of evangelical, conservative Christians won’t vote for a Mormon, any more than they would vote for a Muslim. Donald Trump is a candidate I couldn’t take seriously. I don’t think a lot of Republicans will, either.
Sarah Palin’s popularity among the GOP has waned considerably. She now falls into single digits in most preference polls, in some cases not drawing enough mention to be on the radar screen. I do not find that surprising, given her lack of substance as a campaigner, and the image that she has allowed to be created around her. To me, she seems very self-serving and defensive, her speeches have little substance and are mainly cliches designed to get applause out of a conservative audience, and her blaming the media for distorting her image is whining of a tone that resembles fingernails scraping a chalk board. The GOP doesn’t really like to nominate the number two candidate off their most recent losing ticket, and they won’t nominate Palin, either.
Newt Gingrich is a long shot as well. Why he is even bothering public consideration of a White House run is a mystery to me. The White House must be salivating at the possibility that either Palin or Gingrich would be at the top of the GOP ticket.
If Huckabee can’t put together the support to take the nomination, the GOP should look to some of its younger, up and coming stars. I don’t know a lot about most of them, but it might be fun finding out. Tim Pawlenty seems to get mentioned quite a bit. I’m sure there are some others who have it together enough to consider making a run and some noise in the party. There’s plenty of time, it seems.