Governor Mark Sanford’s South American enterprise to see his mistress this week was the most unbelievably foolish stunt we’ve seen a politician undertake for the sake of adultery in recent memory… wait… that just really isn’t the case. Oh well – it was still incredibly ill advised. Anyway, before Argentina happened, Governor Sanford was being highly touted as a potential presidential candidate three years hence. Now, that isn’t going to happen. This situation reminds us that there are different standards for Democrat and Republican candidates. Put a different way, there are standards for Republican candidates and no standards for Democrat candidates (see W.J. Clinton, Teddy Kennedy). So who’s left on the Republican chief executive smorgasbord? And what will push each of them toward and hold them back from the right to challenge the venerable and serene President Barack Obama? Seek no more for the answers, dear friend, they lie mere millimeters from you now. Here, in no particular order, are your four most likely GOP nominees.
Alaska Governor Sarah Palin
Does it seem odd that there are only four names on this list? Perhaps, but that is precisely the sort of near to absolute certainty that we here at Goose Radio seek to proffer you. And there’s no way around it, Palin belongs on any short list of Presidential contenders. She remains the most intriguing candidate on the fruited Republican plain. Upside - Armed with undeniable charisma and a vice-presidential nomination, Palin is an absolute rockstar among the party faithful. Recent polling shows that she retains a 73% favorability rating among Republicans. Palin’s exploits, whatever or wherever, continue to draw a crowd and a presser. Just take a look at the coverage of her recent East Coast trip or the extemporaneous Thanksgiving speech she gave last fall with an unfortunate turkery being slain behind her. Downside – While the national exposure she gained as John Sidney McCain’s (“MY FRIENDS”) running mate was enormous, it brought problems – as well as boons – in its wake. Her interviews with Katie Couric and Charles Gibson provided ample fodder for the now ubiquitous questions about whether or nay she has enough knowledge of the world to be a Vice President – much less a President. The questions weren’t limited to liberals. After the election day Obama rout, many of McCain’s own staffers vented in the press that Palin wasn’t knowledgeable and that working with her was less than joyous. While it’s her straight talking demeanor that has gone a long way to galvanizing her base of support, we noted last week that her response to David Letterman’s crude joke was a reminder that she is very much a politician.
Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee
With a weekly television show and a daily radio feature, Huckabee (or ‘The Huckster’ as Rush Limbaugh calls him) has certainly remained in the public eye. His numerous speaking and book signing appearances, particularly in first in the nation Iowa, certainly have the look of a man on a mission. Upside – Huckabee went from next-to-nowhere to having a huge impact on the ’08 Republican primaries. The ‘Huckaboom’, as it was termed, was largely the product of the Governor’s pleasant demeanor and his uniquely effective communication skills. He is immensely attractive to Social Conservatives due to his strong record on faith and family values. His Iowa upset of Mitt Romney, who led the polls for months in the aforementioned ’08 caucus, is a great starting point for a primary road in ’12 that will once again feature Iowa as stop #1. He also cultivated a personable relationship with the media during his primary run – which never hurts. Downside – One of the big questions for the Arkansan will be whether or nay his presence as a ‘talking head’ on Fox News will diminish or improve his standing for a possible run. Ronald Reagan’s career as a radio man and a General Electric TV pitchman might be seen as a precedent for taking this very route, but Reagan’s media career was all undertaken before his California governorship and two presidential runs. You don’t see a great many politicians at this level become media folk and then transition back. And for all his success in ’08, Huckabee is still widely viewed as a candidate with severely limited appeal demographically. His performance in the days before Iowa over a year ago was uneven, with some highly visible oddities regarding an attack ad that he crafted and retracted and his reaction to developing events in Pakistan. But Huckabee’s most ironic problem might be that for all the warmth values voters feel for him, a sizable segment of fiscal Conservatives absolutely loathe him.
Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty
And here comes “T-Paw”, as this gentleman is commonly and affectionately known in the Upper Midwest. Upside – The governor isn’t widely known, and he still has the chance to introduce himself as he sees fit. If you’ll notice, he’s really the only one of these political heavyweights for whom that’s the case. It’s not a bad thing. Pawlenty is different, and that too is good. He’s no nobody either – reports suggest that he made the final short list for McCain VP before Sarah Palin happened. He’s managed to get elected in one of the most liberal states in the US of A as a conservative twice. His likability and plain spoken persona hearken to Huckabee, while his small town, animal-slaying streak can look a bit Palin-esque. His fiscal record is something he would be able to place against Romney’s. Pawlenty also has made it clear that he intends to be the one to stand up for the plight of the common man, and fight the ‘Republican’s are all wealthy cake-eating rich dudes’ rap. Who knows – he might be able to pull it off. Minnesota also happens to be right on top of Iowa if one waxes geographic for a moment. There’s a good chance he might have some added support in the Iowa Caucus because of it. Downside - His rivals have a real head start on him – in name recognition, fund raising networks, and potential endorsements. He’s also very close to Senator McCain, who is potentially the least liked major party nominee within his own ranks since John Tyler. And he’s had the term ‘moderate’ swirl around him a bit more than might be prudent in an early Republican primary situation. But no very serious pitfalls have reared their heads on the good ship T-Paw thus far.
Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney
A great decidedly mediocre, ever empathizing President was elected not so long ago by constantly reminding himself, “It’s the economy, stupid.” And as long as the US economy continues to be buffeted on a daily basis, Mitt Romney’s position in this potential race will continue to look enormously strong. Upside - As a former business wiz, Romney has successfully navigated more capitalist terrain and gained more business know-how than any of his potential opponents. Manning private sector economic success stories like the Salt Lake Olympics all his life give him unparalleled trustworthiness when it comes to managing the business of government. Romney also has a very calm and cool demeanor, which many see as suited to the top job. And he is perhaps the best connected candidate with party bigwigs and fundraisers across the fruited plain. While his real base in 2008 was Fiscal Conservatives, he was also the only Republican candidate that showed an ability to draw together Social, Fiscal, and Foreign Policy Conservatives. He was competitive in every region of the country. Strong links to New Hampshire, Michigan, Utah, and California look likely to aid him again. Downside – He’s not known as “The Stormin Mormon” for nothing – and the reason isn’t meteorological. Romney’s religion may have played as big a factor in ’08 as any other issue in the GOP primaries. Many Conservative Christians (used here as a compliment as opposed to most every other location you’ve seen it) have a great deal of difficulty with Mormonism, believing it to be a cult and therefore mistrusting one of its members in the Oval Office. Romney’s opponents (particularly Huckabee) also made a great deal of hay with his decision to move from the Pro-Choice to Pro-Life camp earlier in the decade and potrayed him as a sort of return of John Kerry.
So there you have it. Are you picking up what we’re throwing down or are we full of political hot air? Feel free to emote in the comment section and share the piece with friends on Facebook or Digg…
In mere days, we will provide you the five keys to the GOP nomination. Giving you clarity and mirth in one fell swoop – it’s who we are.