Is Anybody Going To Run?
A few months ago I would have bet on Mitt Romney declaring and in full campaign mode by this time. Now I'm not so sure he'll even be the nominee. Doyle McManus of the Los Angeles Times certainly doesn't think so.
On paper, Romney should be the front-runner for next year's GOP nomination: He has experience, name recognition, broad popularity and plenty of money. But Republican strategists warn that because of "Romneycare" and other early flings with moderation, Romney lacks one important factor: fervent support from the strongly conservative voters who dominate the primary electorate in most states.
The healthcare system he helped put in place in Massachusetts while governor looks too much like Obamacare to the ideologues. And then there's the matter of his being a Mormon, which just doesn't sit well with the Southern fundagelicals. Does that mean he won't run? I think he will; he's given all the signs that he will, he just hasn't declared.
That leaves things wide open, and by McManus's count, there are 17 other potential candidates, none of whom have declared, although a few have come close.
Newt Gingrich, for example, has a web site! Of course, the website is just part of the exploratory process (a step or two before establishing an exploratory committee which would entail some reporting requirements). It's also a pretty obvious attempt to build a data base for fundraising should Mr. Gingrich actually declare his candidacy.
Michelle Bachman, one of the Tea Party divas, certainly has been doing a lot of traveling and a lot of speechifying. Yesterday it was on a Sunday talk show, which gave her plenty of air time to engage in her peculiar brand of perseverating talk: "Obamacare! Obamacare! $105 billion! $105 billion!" At least some people thinks she's nearing the tipping point. She just wants a little nudge from her friends.
Of course, that still doesn't explain why none of the 18 have announced their candidacy, and an article in today's Los Angeles Times offers a few reasons why these politicians are being coy.
Republican strategists had expected new contenders to emerge after the party scored major gains in the 2010 midterm election. Instead, the news has mostly been about those who toyed with running and took a pass, including Sen. John Thune of South Dakota and Indiana Rep. Mike Pence.
The rigors of presidential campaigning and the high personal cost involved are often cited as reasons why many political figures decline to run. A more pragmatic explanation may be Obama's rebound in the polls and continuing signs of economic recovery. That has made the 2012 GOP nomination seem less alluring than it did last fall.
In other words, no one wants to be branded a loser when the 2016 election rolls around. That could very well be the case: the candidates are hoping to keep their powder dry.
But surely someone will run. Eventually. At least I hope so. I have all this popcorn just waiting to be consumed.
Labels: Election 2012