Monday, January 22, 2007

Race for the Exits 2008: The Republicans

There was a reason for my blog's hiatus. This is rare. Normally, I just don't feel like blogging. However, this time I was in Berlin for a few days and away from Ted Stevens' fantastic series of tubes we ordinary folk call the internet. Anyway, I am back in Sweden and have been greeted by the first real snow of the year. So back from the birthplace of Bismarck and hard power here are in some particular order the possible and actual candidates for the Republican nomination for the Presidency in 2008:

John McCain
: The senior senator from Arizona and the surprise winner of the 2000 New Hampshire primary, John McCain wants this job. Many Republicans see him as the ultimate Anti-Hillary. The former Vietnam POW has more military cred than even democratic four star General Wesley Clark. Sitting in a war room in Washington or Brussels is one thing, sitting in a Viet Cong POW camp is something else. His first problem is that he will be 72 by election day 2008, that's damn old. In 2000, he had the Straight-Talk Express. It was this approach that endeared him to many moderates and independents like the people of New Hampshire. Well, learning from his crushing defeat at the hands of the Rove spin wheel, McCain has turned the straight-talk express into the spin-mobile. He gives speeches at Jerry Falwell's university. He talks about gay marriage as if it's a real threat to society. No one knows how McCain will shape his bid, but Iraq, an obvious way to go, seems unlikely as he has done little to differentiate himself on the file. McCain has all the intangibles he lacked in 2000 and has lost the intangibles he had. He might win this thing, but really can a man so clearly divided against himself stand in the party of Lincoln?

Rudolph Giuliani
: Giuliani has credibility in this race because of his actions on and after September 11th. He became "America's Mayor." Giuliani clearly thinks that America's mayor is really the President and would like to get the title more formally. As Mayor of New York City, Giuliani had an impressive record. Not only winning twice in a city that leans so far democratic that it falls over, but cutting the crime rate and cleaning up the Big Apple. A successful administrator with credibility on terror seems to be a shoe-in. The question is whether or not the Republican base is ready for a thrice-divorced pro-choice Catholic from NYC. Yes, Catholic still matters especially if he's thrice divorced and pro-choice. Giuliani would have been better served if Gore had won in 2000 and Rudy could have run in 2004. The emotion he would have generated then is somewhat lost now more than five years after the fact. Giuliani is a real threat to win and also a real threat to be like John McCain eight years ago and flop in the South.

Chuck Hagel: I'll admit it. I like Chuck Hagel. I don't know how many other Republicans I can say that about. Hagel, I just like. One of the party's only strong critics of the Bush Administration on everything from the Iraq War to fiscal management, the senior senator from
Nebraska wants to bring the Republicans back to their roots: pragmatic conservatism. He would be seen as an Eastern egg-head except that he's from the heart of the heartland. He's also a decorated Vietnam war vet. Aside from the Kennedy Curse on Senators who run for office Hagel has all the tools to win. What he doesn't have is credibility among the party's religious and far right base. The people who love Bush don't like Hagel. There aren't a lot of them left but they have a big say in the Republican nomination process. This is the guy that should scare the Democrats the most. He might scare too many Republicans to ever get the chance.

Condoleeza Rice
: The US Secretary of State and former National Security Advisor has made no indication that she is in the race. I don't think she will. I view this as Republicans thinking "well, if we put a woman against Hillary...." Having said that, this is what her resume looks like. A former professor, Rice is a double minority in the Republican party and in life in general: a black woman. She is one of the two most influential advisors that President Bush has. In spite of the whole black woman thing, Rice is the most stay the course candidate out there. She would be Bush's heir-apparent should she run and his devout followers may just follow her. What she lacks to be Bush II (or III) is the connection to the religious right. She has never run for election and there are questions as to her ability to campaign. However, the largest thing stopping Condi from getting her name on the ballot is the fact that she won't put it there. She would be an interesting choice for VP.

Newt Gingrich
: Yes, Newt Gingrich. I know. He was supposed to be gone forever. Yes, the ethically challenged former speaker of the house is running on... you won't believe this... renewal. He thinks that like Jesus he can be resurrected and with him the Republican landslide of 1994. Yes, this is the Contract with America guy. He has been trying to show himself as a moderate advocating for projects with people like his former arch-nemesis Hillary Clinton. I really don't think the Republicans who just lost both houses to corruption are going to try to send Mr. Corruption himself to the White House. The base will have good memories and everyone will be very polite to him on the campaign trail but I can't believe his campaign will get off the ground. Think a corrupt Ken Dryden. The only reason I think he might win is because I'm so sure that he can't.

George Pataki: Why not. That's the rationale behind the Pataki campaign. He's got a lot of friends telling him how great he is. He's going to try to be president. The former governor of New York looks a lot like Giuliani. A good administrator who came off well in the days and weeks around 9/11. He also has a lot Giuliani's flaws. He's too left wing for the party base being the most crucial. I can't see him creating any momentum with Giuliani in the race. The governor below him on the list is the one to watch.

Mitt Romney:
When I said this list is in some particular order. I didn't mean that it was an exact order. Romney really should be higher. I just can't figure out where to put him. The former governor of Massachusetts is a lot like Pataki. A republican who was overwhelmingly popular in a blue state. Romney's big advantage is also his biggest disadvantage. He's openly religious, unfortunately (in terms of public perception) he's Mormon. The religious right doesn't really like Mormons. They're viewed as almost a cult. A Mormon Republican from Massachusetts may be too much for the base to swallow.

Sam Brownback
: The senior Senator from Kansas is actually more of a viable candidate than his relative anonymity may lead you to believe. The reason: the religious right. This guy is one of their own. A born-again Christian, he equates abortion with the Holocaust. He hates same-sex marriage. With Santorum's defeat in November, Brownback has become Mr. Morality in the senate. Five of the candidates above him are serious concerns for the evangelical movement. If he galvanizes the base, he could win or at least decide the nomination. The question is whether or not this guy has the political je ne sais quoi to run a national campaign. He won't be in Kansas anymore.

Mike Huckabee
: Getting duped by Rick Mercer is apparently a reason to run for President. Tom Vilsack is running for the Democrats and the Republicans have Mike Huckabee. The last Governor from Hope, Arkansas became president so he has a path to follow. Much like Vilsack Huckabee is a bit of tabula rasa in the sphere of public perception. A former minister, he would have entry into the religious right but would probably not have the same connections as Brownback. He could also go after the obesity epidemic as he personally lost about half of himself while governor of Arkansas. Once again, major questions about being ready for prime time.

Tommy Thompson
: The second Bush cabinet name on the list, Thompson has been elected. He was governor Wisconsin. One of the more touted Bush cabinet nominees when he was appointed in 2001, Thompson never really stood out in his years in Health and Human Services. This might mean he was a good administrator, it might mean he was useless but knows how to avoid the spotlight. A former great lake governor would be good for the Republican electoral map but there are questions as to whether he can stand out in this packed field. Like Romney and Pataki he has a history of winning big in a blue state so he can't be ruled out.

Tom Tancredo
: If you watch Lou Dobbs you've probably seen Congressman Tancredo (R-CO). Here ladies and gentlemen is the anti-immigration candidate. Tancredo wants illegal immigrants, their language and their culture out of Colorado and out of America. He's running to get that message out. He won't win but there will be pressure from the base for someone more credible to come towards his way of thinking.

Duncan Hunter
: If Tancredo is the anti-immigrant candidate this is the anti-obscenity candidate. However, the good congressman from California has ethics issues. He'll run, he'll lose and it will not change your or anyone else's life. In other words, Fuck him.

Haley Barbour
: Another governor. This time Mississippi. He's religious right. He's got Katrina sympathy except for the fact that he kind of screwed that up. He's not really ready for the national spotlight i.e. he's bound to say something stupid. Think Stockwell Day.

Jim Gilmore: This is not the Virginia candidate the Republicans wanted or the governor of Virginia the media wanted but after George Allen stepped in macaca and Gov. Warner said no thanks this is what they're left with. The former governor... it may seem like it but they aren't all running... is yet another possible place for the religious right to park its votes.
He worked for Bush on WMD but aside from that has done, well nothing, since leaving office in 2001. Anonymous meet Jim Gilmore... oh wait... you already know him.

Ron Paul: Congressman from Texas. Old fashioned libertarian Republican. He's Hagel without the flair, support, money or credibility.

John H. Cox:
This guy likes losing nominations. He's run unsuccessfully for nominations to the house in senate from his home state of Illinois. Now he'll have the failure trifecta. He's JFK... if he lost instead of won.

Michael Charles Smith
: Don't worry. You shouldn't know who this is. This is some guy who's trying to make a name for himself. Literally some guy. No political experience, he works for HP. He's trying to get himself a delegate spot in the Oregon primary. He is a registered candidate.

Yikes! For someone who hates the Republican party, this is a beautiful list.


Anonymous said...

What about Tom Ridge?

aginsberg said...

I hadn't heard the rumour. Wikipedia has nothing on him running., which is a great source on American elections, also leaves him off the list. I think his retirement from public life was legitimate. Now that I've said that of course he'll form an exploratory committee tomorrow.

McGuire said...

Keep an eye on Huckabee, I think he's gonna end up as McCain's main challenger. Giuliani b/c of his stance on social issues & personal problems & Romney's shameless flip-flops those in the GOP will end up looking for an alternative & he could be it. I've read up on the guy & am very impressed.

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