Three new candidates are slowly circling above the GOP presidential race. Will they land or fly on by? New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former VP candidate Sarah Palin, and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan are in various stages of contemplating possible candidacies.
Start with Palin. A good Iowa source tells me that she is preparing a massive event in his state on September 3rd, very possibly to announce her presidential candidacy. It would be a huge mistake…but it would help the Republicans defeat Obama!
A mistake because she’d get slaughtered. Michele Bachmann – more credentialed, accomplished, and informed – has breathed all the oxygen she’d need for her candidacy. Before she could compete in the primaries, she would need to defeat Bachmann in the “woman’s primary.” But the Congressman is vastly better equipped to discuss budget, deficit, foreign affairs, and virtually any other issue. She has stirred the same kind of enthusiasm as the former Alaska Governor, but with much more substance behind it. If she ran, it would end up trivializing her and showing feet of clay.
…But it wouldn’t be bad for the Party. Sarah Palin is the same kind of lightening rod in the Republican Party that Hillary Clinton is in the Democratic. (Doesn’t that reflect the sexism of our politics?). If she entered the race, the entire political establishment would descend on her in a chorus of criticism and undeserved mockery. She would deflect attention – and therefore negative attacks – from the likely front runners.
The entire Republican Primary has been waged in the shadows of those who will not be the nominees – Trump, Daniels, and Huckabee. For the past three months, we have been rid of these phantoms and can focus on the real candidates. Now, if Palin runs, she will be the object of media scrutiny, permitting Bachmann, Romney, and Perry to advance their campaigns without negative media scrutiny and Democratic attacks.
Can Palin win the nomination? Not a chance. Not while Bachmann is viable. Can she defeat Obama? She’s probably the only Republican candidate that can’t. Even these days, Obama gets more than 50% of the vote in matchups with her, more than he draws against any other candidate.
Then there’s Paul Ryan. Another bad idea. If he ran and got the nomination, the Democrats would hang his proposed Medicare cuts around his neck. Again, this is one of the few events which could spell doom for our chances in November and re-elect Obama.
Ryan, a compelling and articulate figure – who I urged to run for president before he came up with his Medicare plan – is being pushed by many of the operatives associated with former President George W. Bush. There was never a lot of love between Governor Bush and his then Lt. Governor Rick Perry and now many of the Bush people are pushing Ryan to get in as an antidote to the Texas Governor. Originally, they had pinned their hopes on Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels (who would have been a great candidate) but when that soured, they cast their lonely eyes to Wisconsin’s Congressman Ryan.
In any event, Paul Ryan repeatedly threw cold water on my entreaties to run for president speaking movingly and vividly of his determination to “be there for my kids” while they are growing up. After his splendid reply to Obama’s State of the Union speech, I texted him that his eloquence would spark demands for his candidacy. “Thanks but no thanks” was his answer.
Chris Christie, on the other hand, is the real deal. His record in New Jersey is awesome, a real testament to conservative values amid a liberal environment. His courage, clarity, and wisdom are very impressive. He’d make a great candidate and a great president. We hope he runs!
But its hard to see how someone can run after saying that they are “not ready” to be president. If he had demurred using other language, he could now reverse field and run. But if he wasn’t “ready” to be president – by his own admission – in the spring, how could he be suddenly ready by the autumn?
Still, Christie could get over that hurdle citing the manifest incompetence of the current president. He should run. He probably won’t get re-elected Governor of liberal New Jersey in 2013 – he’s been too faithful to his conservative agenda.
In the meantime, we have a field of very good candidates. Romney, Perry, or Bachmann could all beat Obama and, as noted before, don’t count out Cain, Santorum, or even Newt.
Are we having fun yet?