While Palin remains the biggest GOP star and has a passionate following, when you get beyond her core supporters, voters are deeply skeptical of her ability to be president. An ABC News/Washington Post poll taken last month found that even conservatives are divided -- with just 45 percent saying she's qualified to be the nation's top executive and 48 percent saying she isn't. Tea Party supporters are split 48 percent to 48 percent on the question. Meanwhile, among the public at large, just 27 percent view her as qualified compared with 67 percent who say she isn't. Were Palin to run, she'd have to prove that she could build a functioning national political operation and translate her celebrity into actual votes beyond her fan base.
When Huckabee ran the last time around, he built a strong campaign on a shoestring budget with little name recognition, but he had trouble competing in states that did not have a critical mass of evangelical voters. And national security and economic conservatives distrusted him. Were he to make a second bid for president, in addition to these obstacles, Huckabee's penchant for pardoning criminals as governor of Arkansas would come under added scrutiny given that he commuted the sentence of Maurice Clemmons, who in 2009 was suspected of killing four cops in Washington state.
Gingrich, who in the past has exploited speculation about his presidential ambitions to promote himself and his books, may actually decide to run this time. But while he's respected in some quarters for being a one man idea factory, he's rankled many grassroots conservatives for such decisions as recording a television ad with Nancy Pelosi demanding action on climate change and endorsing liberal Republican Dede Scozzafava over conservative Doug Hoffman in a well-publicized special election, allying himself with the GOP establishment. Should he run for president, he'll also carry a ton of personal baggage that he'll be seriously questioned about for the first time since the late 1990s.
The list goes on and on. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will enter the race with lower name recognition than his rivals and a sense that he's too boring to be president. His rightward shift over the past few years will also open him up to charges of being a flip flopper. Over the past several months, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has managed to anger key constituencies of the conservative movement by calling for a "truce" on social issues, saying that defense cuts had to be on the table, and flirting with a value added tax. At a time of unprecedented anti-Washington sentiment, it's hard to see Republicans rally around a lobbyist in Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour."
Back in 2008, I forced myself to become quite pragmatic over what was then the current crop of presidential nominees and I concluded that on net balance, Romney was probably the best candidate out of all of them. Of both parties. Although far from being anywhere near the perfect candidate, at least Romney had accomplished something in life and helped turn around failing, money-losing businesses for a living before being elected governor of Massachusetts. Guiliani? Too much personal baggage and his type of so-called conservatism doesn't play well west of the Hudson River. Fred Thompson? Good, but uninspiring. One commntator noted that it seemed he was walking for the nomination rather than running for it. Mike Huckabee? Too many pardons of hardened criminals while governor of Arkansas. McCain? Wrong on immigration, cap and trade and a whole host of other issues as well. We all see what a disaster his campaign turned out to be.
Yet Romney, despite some baggage of his own, seemed to be the best out of the entire lot. Although he had some dalliances with policies that skewed to the left, I do not question his patriotism or that he would throw the US under the bus. I cannot say the same for our Kenyan-American president.
Who do you think is presidential material for 2012? Post your thoughts here.
P.S. I just realized something. If I were to follow the patented Whateverman System of Logical Argumentation, I would have to conclude that the reason that Romney didn't get the nomination in '08 was due to bigotry because of his non-traditonal religion (Mormonism) and it couldn't possibly have anything to do with policy differences. B-b-b-b-bigots!