“No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session”.

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mitch Daniels, Tim Pawlenty & The GOP 2012 Presidential Nomination

When I wrote this post roughly two weeks ago, I was concerned that I'd left someone out, but couldn't see, from the scrambled early field, who that would be.

It was former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. I now realize that he had declared his exploratory committee and even participated in the South Carolina debate. But I totally overlooked him.

Maybe it's my bad memory, perhaps Pawlenty's forgetability, or both.

In either case, having realized my mistake, and with Mitch Daniels' decision to skip the 2012 presidential race, my initial assessments were these:

Electable: Gingrich, Daniels

Unelectable: Ron Paul, Hunstman, Johnson, Cain, Bachman, Santorum, Palin, Romney

My personal preference? Probably Newt Gingrich, followed by Mitch Daniels. Herman Cain, by virtue of his candor and business experience, would be third.

My updated assessment is:

Electable: Pawlenty
Unelectable: Ron Paul, Johnson, Bachman, Santorum, Palin, Romney, Gingrich
Unsure: Hunstman, Cain

Ranked Preference: Pawlenty, Cain, Hunstman, Paul
I confess to being very disappointed, but not really surprised that Mitch Daniels declined to run. With his extensive federal and gubernatorial track record, it surely wasn't his concern over his abilities or prospects. Except for, frankly, that odd marital situation. And his wife's apparent total refusal to be involved in his political campaigns at all.

That kind of weirdness just doesn't play well on the campaign trail. Even the current First Lady was campaigning for Wonderboy, until her infamous gaffes about never being proud of being American until her husband ran for the Oval Office.

With Daniels out, I really don't see a mainstream GOP candidate with sufficient experience and credentials to appeal to independents except Pawlenty. Dick Armey seems to agree.

My own decades-old informal presidential prediction model involves American voters' observed preference for governors. When non-incumbents meet, a governor will beat a nominee without gubernatorial experience. The presidency has correctly come to be viewed as the executive job that it is, thus discriminating against Senators and Representatives. Thus I believe Santorum, Bachman and Paul are virtually unelectable.

Against an incumbent Democrat, I think Republicans need to give it their very best shot. Despite his horrible economic and foreign policy records, Wonderboy has the advantage of incumbency, fluency on the stump, and the inevitable appeal to racism.

It's heartbreaking to think that, like 1996, Republicans have a golden opportunity and a dearth of spellbinding candidates with the right credentials. But that's what seems to be developing.

In that environment, I suspect Pawlenty offers the GOP its best hope for recapturing the White House.

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