Charles Krauthammer is the columnist I respect the most for his values, insights, and political sense. So let’s use his column “Handicapping the 2012 Presidential Odds” as a starting point for my own assessment of the current field.
Charles begins by dissing Donald Trump and dismissing Michele Bachmann. Sorry Charles but wrong and wronger. Trump will run as a Republican with a damn good chance of winning the nomination. He appeals more to moderates and Independents than to stalwart Republicans but he captures the hearts and minds of the outside-of-the-beltway crowd with his blunt outspokenness and a raft of experience deep enough to show up a former community organizer.
Bachmann is also a front tier contender. She wows them on the stump, has a lead in fund raising, appeals to the Tea Party folks, and stood up and voted against the phony Boehner-Reid-Obama budget deal. She’s the real deal.
He correctly dismisses Mitt Romney because of Romneycare in Massachusetts. He won’t win New Hampshire. Last time he didn’t win New Hampshire and he’s got to win New Hampshire.
Newt Gingrich is also in Krauthammer’s front tier. He’s improved a lot lately. Likely most Republicans (including me) believe it would be great if this articulate, brilliant man could be our nominee. So let’s all hope he overcomes the negatives.
But Krauthammer’s main mistake is flatly saying that Mike Huckabee won’t run. Then what is he doing crisscrossing the country going to all the primary states? Think he likes the fishing in New Hampshire? My bet is he runs and that he’s got a great chance to be the nominee….and the next president.
Then Charles, his view obscured by Washington DC’s buildings, says Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels, and Tim Pawlenty are first tier candidates. Barbour can’t run if Huckabee does. He won’t beat him in a single southern state. In the rest of the nation, his lobbyist record kills him. Pawlenty would be good but, as Governor of Minnesota, his Housing Finance Agency set up a Shariah compliant lending fund to enable Muslims to buy homes without paying interest (the state paid it and they paid the state back through a lease-purchase deal). After eighteen months, he ended the program. He claims he didn’t know about it. Didn’t know? There were protests at every Agency meeting. Eileen and I wrote about it in Catastrophe which sold 300,000 copies! If he didn’t know, he’s a bad Governor. If he knew, he’d be a bad president.
Mitch Daniels would be great. He’s done wonders in Indiana, most recently passing the best school choice program in America. Mitch walks the walk! But I don’t think he’s running. He sure didn’t seem like a candidate to me when we met a few weeks ago. But, he would be great.
So, the betting here is that the first tier is Huckabee, Gingrich, Romney, Trump, and Bachmann. I don’t think Palin can run if Bachmann and Huckabee do. I think Huck wins Iowa. Somebody beats Romney in NH and then Gingrich, Huckabee, Trump and Bachmann duke it out down the stretch.
Charles got it mainly right but a bit wrong. That’s why he’s my favorite.