GOP Deck Shuffled…No More Mr. Nice Guy

Less than 24 hours after the Iowa Straw Poll results were announced, the candidate many considered, Mr. Nice Guy, pulled out of the race – and to be honest, it was not a surprise.

Tim Pawlenty, after a Sunday morning conference call with supporters, called it quits. So, what went wrong?

Pawlenty, the former Minnesota Governor, was by most accounts, a really nice guy but, was he true presidential material? No. Pawlenty had 2 memorable showings in debates once calling Romney’s health care plan ORomneycare and the second, going after Michelle Bachmann harshly. Neither moment would be enough to get him any better than 3rd place in the Iowa Straw Poll nor it seems, be enough to garner further financial support for a long and tough campaigning.

The financial end of it is but one factor in his decision.

The other may well be his attempt to position himself as a serious contender for a VP nod down the road.

Tim…Don’t hold your breath.

Serious and top-tier candidates know what they need to boost them to a win in November 2012, and Minnesota isn’t really it. They need Florida, and in THAT state, 2 names are resounding: Marco Rubio and Allen West. So far, Rubio has stated he’s not interested in that position while West has indicated he WOULD take a serious look at VP if asked. Either way, one of the two has the inside track for ticket ink.

Now that Pawlenty is out, Perry is in, who makes the next decision?

Probably Newt Gingrich. His polling numbers are nearly nonexistent, his campaign staff is shaky at best, he’s a million in debt and he finished behind a write-in Rick Perry at the Iowa Straw Poll. The faster Newt bows out, the better for his future book sales.

Thadeous McCotter finished the Iowa Straw Poll behind Newt but, he’ll stay, for a while, and while he’s got some good ideas, he’s just not going to catch fire.

Santorum finished behind Pawlenty – but is taken a LITTLE more seriously than Pawlenty. The real race here will be between Santorum and McCotter…not to see who becomes a top tier candidate but to see who exits first. Santorum seems more spry.

It’s going to require lots and lots of money to stay IN it for the long haul, and Mitt Romney has plenty coming in, for now, but…It’s OLD money. Mitt’s donors are primarily establishment donors who were there with him 4 years ago.

This race is going to be fueled by NEW money.

Conventional wisdom dictates you don’t get to the White House from the House floor – so where does that leave Michelle Bachmann after winning the Iowa Straw Poll?

If this race is to be fueled by new money, then this race will be decided by those with new views – so it’s safe to say, conventional wisdom is not the standard bearer for 2012. In fact, using conventional wisdom, the sweep of the House in 2010 would not have occurred.

Bachmann is a top-tier candidate and very capable of drawing new money into her coffers. Michelle Bachman is also something Tea Party fresh with a voting record to back up her claims. She’s tough, plain talking and successful. Make no mistake, Bachmann is in it for the nomination distance as one of the top 3 candidates.

Rick Perry, the newest shiny ball in the hunt, will not have an easy road to the nomination. Liberals are already gearing up their attacks and primed to label Perry as another Bush. Their spin will include how close his policies are to Bush and how both are Texans (whatever that means) and how electing Perry will ensure another 4 years of the Bush years.

Who really cares what the libs say? In this case, Tea Party votes will care as they were not really fond of Bush’s spending habits and that could hurt Perry down the road. That said, Perry is tough and, unless another new shiny ball rolls through the field, will also likely be in the top 3.

How about Ron Paul? Where does Paul stand?

Ron Paul doesn’t really have supporters, he has followers and they are legion. Paulites, as many refer to them are libertarians, not Tea Party voters and there is a vast difference. Ron Paul is going to HAVE to stop with his isolationist ideology if he wants to be one of the 3 at nomination time. That ideology alienates him to supporters of Israel and puts him at odds with those to whom foreign policy is important.

Another problem for Paul is that while HE is a libertarian, the majority of his followers lean substantially toward being anarchists. Don’t count on Ron Paul to be there at the end.

If you think it’s hard to get to the oval office from the House, try getting there without ever holding any elected office whatsoever, and you’ll understand what Herman Cain is facing. While Cain has been brilliant in the corporate boardroom, can he transfer that success to the White House? No. In a world where his word alone determines the course taken, it just doesn’t work that way when you’re the President. Cain’s lack of clear direction concerning foreign policy is also a roadblock. While Cain can and has clearly turned around failing businesses, he doesn’t possess the needed political acumen to steer the ship of state.

In the current pack, that leaves Jon Huntsman.

Huntsman certainly has a grasp of foreign affairs having served as Ambassador to China and let’s face it, we’re going to have to deal with China in the next 4 years as that country owns a great deal of our debt. On the down side, Huntsman served in that position at the request of Barack Obama – and that’s not going to sit well with Tea Party voter and may well not sit well with independents either.

Chances are, Huntsman will be viewed, rightly or wrongly, as another establishment candidate due to his heritage. As Jon Huntsman just got IN the race, look for him to ride it for a while before exiting gracefully down the road. It’s just not in the cards right now for the dapper gentleman from Utah.

So…Now what? We have a couple of top-tier candidates with the means to be there, but who will be the third?

Here is where we have to take a good look at existing poll numbers. Right now, beating Obama is…generic. A generic republican, according to polls, is trending nearly 8 points ahead of Obama but who IS that generic candidate?

To find that candidate we have to look at the “maybes” and that’s an interesting list.

Sarah Palin is a maybe. She just keeps hanging around and showing up and everywhere she goes, she draws a crowd. Ask Rick Santorum. In Iowa, while in a tent speaking, Santorum watched as those in the audience made a mad rush toward the door the instant Palin walked in.

The truth about Palin is that she can wield more power and influence as an advocate than as a candidate – and her PAC has been doling out bucks to other candidates. Sarah Palin will influence this race with her endorsement, but not with her name on a ballot.

Chris Christie is a maybe, but he says he’s not running. Christie comes with baggage – and while he has been able to strong-arm his state legislators, it will be difficult for him to do likewise in Washington.

Allen West, though holding fast to his initial statements of not running for president at this time, is still very much on the radar for many supporters. West has a firm grasp of foreign affairs and is more than capable of handling domestic and economic concerns and issues. His overwhelming Tea Party support has cracked recently but only by those who would stand on ideology rather than on moving forward the principles of the Tea Party platform. While some Tea Partiers have, for now, walked away, independents are coming toward West.

If, as he has stated, he is willing to take a VP slot, why not a run at POTUS? Allen West is a maybe.

Also making noise is former UN Ambassador John Bolton, who has been showing an ever increasing displeasure and disgust with the Obama administration at every level and every turn. Don’t be surprised to find Bolton in the mix before Thanksgiving.

Here’s the good news. As long as the republican field remains in flux, as long as the top-tier shuffle continues, as long as polls change faster than the debt clock, and as long as the generic candidate remains unnamed, the Obama candidacy remains somewhat off balance. Obama will have to use a scatter gun approach rather that a focused laser and that benefits ALL the GOP candidates.

Let’s face it, liberals always make the most noise regarding that which scares them the most, and we can expect lots of liberal crowing about the fact that the GOP field has no clear front runner, ergo, they’re frightened silly over it. Right now, the Obama campaign machine has let it slip they’re focused on Romney. Go for it.

Don’t for a minute believe republican voter are not engaged. They are and they’re weighing the field of candidates, vetting and waiting. Republicans are not tipping their hand and GOP voters ARE looking for something outside the conventional realm of political thought.

GOP candidates are in the best position heading into 2012 but here is the one thing they MUST keep in the forefront of their campaigns.

This is very, VERY important..

While they work toward the nomination, they MUSY allow the VOTERS to sort out their differences rather that affording THEIR efforts in the direction of sniping at one another.

Listen up Bachman, Romney, Paul, McCotter, Huntsman, Santorum, Perry, Gingrich and those on the list of maybes…listen up…

Stop running against each other and start running FOR the American people. Whoever does THAT the best will win the nomination AND the White House.



3 thoughts on “GOP Deck Shuffled…No More Mr. Nice Guy

  1. Excellent article Craig. From the bios on each candidate, to the message of uniting to defeat the Liberals, this is top shelf commentary. Well done!

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