What we won't see in 2012
by Tom Donelson on March 9, 2011 at 7:37 PM
There are two predictions that I will make and be certain of. The first is that the 2012 elections will be full of surprises. That one is easy. The second is that the nominee for the GOP will not come from any candidates who ran in 2008.
I don’t see Mitt Romney as the 2012 nominee since he would have to defend Romney care, and it didn’t help when Obama recently lavished praise upon Romney care. Mike Huckabee is one of those candidates who looks good in polls, but one gets the impression that his heart is not really in it, or do I get the same impression that Sarah Palin isn’t gung ho for a run; especially in lieu of her parents recently admitting they sleep with guns under the beds. Both Huckabee and Palin are making good money working for Fox, and any run means not only no Fox money but all the headaches that go with campaigning and in the case of Ms. Palin, all the attacks on her family along with on her.
So where do we go? Right now, that is a good question and what everyone thought of being a big field may not be as big as originally thought. Mitch Daniels is playing a “should I or should I not" whereas Chris Christie is playing it coy while waiting to see how it all shakes out. Donald Trump is ready to put his hat in to save the world (I am wondering, does this mean no more contribution to Democrats such as the now Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, and what happens to Celebrity Apprentice?)
The good news is that the second and third tier candidates who did not run in 2008 just as Daniels, Pawlenty, Christie and even Haley Barbour are actually better prepared to challenge Obama than the first tier from 2008. Daniels is everyone's favorite governor based on his record, and while he has stirred enough controversy with his truce talk on the social issues, he does have an impressive resume that actually includes success stories from private sector experiences to his present gig as Indiana governor. (No community organizing on the resume.)
Tim Pawlenty's record can’t be ignored as National Review Ramesh Ponnuru noted, he did not change his conservatism in governing Minnesota whereas Romney governs Massachusetts as a moderate. Pawlenty won’t have to convince conservatives that he is one of their own whereas Romney, some four years later after 2008, is still trying to convince the GOP base, he is one of them. Pawlenty also showed that he was willing to fight the left in Minnesota and while he has the reputation of being a “nice guy”, his record shows that this nice guy won’t roll over.
Barbour is a former lobbyist but also an effective governor and we all know Chris Christie. Trump will be entertaining as his campaign slogan to Obama will be, “You’ll be fired.” Herman Cain, another business man running, can at least put up a business resume as impressive as Trump, plus he was a former board member of the Federal Reserve, so he actually understands monetary policy.
And I haven’t gotten into the GOP bench, which features Paul Ryan and Bobby Jindal, plus how can one overlook Rick Perry, whose governance over Texas has overseen some of the strongest job growth in these down times?
Nor should we overlook libertarian Republicans. Ron Paul will probably run, but former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson is running as well. Mr. Johnson proved effective as a two term governor and managed to get re-elected despite supporting legalization of drugs. On the social issues, Johnson will run to the left of Paul, who can be classified as a social conservative. Johnson is not a social conservative and his non-interventionist foreign policy is right out of the Cato Institute handbook. (Johnson supporters can point out that Mr. Johnson held records for vetoes as governor and left the state of New Mexico with a big surplus and the size of state government slashed, so he actually has a record to fall back on.)
The Tea Party's impact on the GOP will mean a healthy debate on the future of conservatives and the GOP. The Tea Party influence also means that the past history of the GOP rewarding those with past presidential experiences is over. 2012 will produce a fresh face and one not from the 2008 campaign.