Thursday, May 19, 2011

Monitoring the Chessboard

Mike Huckabee's decision not to run has left a void in the Republican field that is becoming painfully evident. While it is very early in the process, some fundalmental conservatives are not liking the way things are shaping up.

For some, the former Arkansas Governor seemed to be the answer. He was socially conservative, but had a history of compromise on fiscal issues. He was "clean" from a "past personal baggage" point of view. He wasn't offensive to Hispanics. He had demonstrated an ability to attract "blue collar" Democrats. He was the darling of Evangelicals. He was more than a regional candidate. The chance of him getting the necessary number of electoral votes was good.

Why isn't he going to run? Maybe it is because he can run later. Currently, he has a successful program on Fox News that builds his platform with every broadcast. His radio potential is boundless. He has other "irons" in the fire. And, he knows that in the event that he becomes bored, he can always return to politics in a big way by opposing Mark Pryor for his Arkansas Senate seat in 2014. Would Governor Huckabee want to be a U.S. Senator? He has not indicated a desire for such. But, you can never tell! Especially when common sense would suggest an easy victory. From there, he could decide if he wanted to finish his career in the Senate or run for the Presidency. And, there is always the possibility that he might want to stay in broadcasting. Nobody could spite Governor Huckabee either way.

The dilemma that has resulted for party conservatives is "what other candidate in the present field" could bring those three aforementioned factions to the Republican column? Not to mention unite Tea Partiers and Establishment GOP members?

Jeb Bush tops the Establishment GOP wish list. He represents a successful Governor from a large swing state, who would not only has money but a Mexican wife. In college Jeb majored in "Latin American Studies." His written and spoken Spanish is flawless. He would be very difficult to beat in Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado, three states won by his brother in '04 that broke for Obama in '08. Not to mention his home state! But, Jeb is evidently going to pass. Perhaps he is looking at 2016. Maybe his advisors are saying the country needs four more years to forget about George.

After that, it begins to look bleak. Romney will run but how will he rate with "Hispanics, Evangelicals and "blue collar" Democrats?" Can he unite the "Tea Party and Establishment?" Smart money would say "poorly and no."

Tim Pawlenty just doesn't have the sizzle. He is a good man and should be on the top of everyone's list for Vice President. Same would hold for Mitch Daniels. If there is anything that is good about this years GOP field, it does have some outstanding candidates for Vice President. You could easily add Chris Christie to that field although it's unlikely he will be available. Ron Paul makes some good points. But he is too old for either President or Vice President.

Newt Gingrich has self destructed. Not that he ever really had a chance. He was always too polarizing. While he might be a strong debator, his best move is to drop out of the race ASAP! He has done nothing but help the Democrats with his questionable assertions regarding mandated healthcare coverage and Paul Ryans proposed budget plan.

Cain, Huntsman, Santorum, Bachmann? Wouldn't bet on it!

Sarah Palin? It doesn't look like she will do anything other than sit on the sidelines and pick a winner. Some suggest that she may be positioning herself for a cabinet appointment. And it may be that she likes the money that she's making and wants to leave it at that. As with Governor Huckabee she will have the option to challenge a liberal Democrat in a conservative state in the 2014 Senate election.

Rick Perry? A very good record in Texas. But it is likely that his differences with many of the key state players might be at odds with his running in 2012. But don't count him out for a possible 2016 bid!

Are we out of options? Well, maybe not. It may come down to how badly the Republicans want Obama to be a one-term President. It also comes down to how realistic and pragmatic Republican elites truly are. These are not facitious questions! At stake is the leadership and direction of the party. Often "passing the mantle" is not done without reservation or resistence.

Kentucky Senator, Rand Paul's new book "The Tea Party Goes to Washington" strategically distinguished "Constitutional Conservatives" from "Neo-Conservatives." The crowning difference between the two is governments size and role. As Paul put it, "Neo-Con,"George W. Bush wanted a big government to implement conservatism. The Tea Party is all about "reducing the size and cost of government" based on what is actually written in the constitution. This is the key difference between "Establishment Republicans" and "Tea Party Republicans."

What is wrong with the current field(Ron Paul being the exception) is virtually all of the declared candidates are "Neo-Cons." It is easy to forget that it was the "Constitutional Conservatives" who resurrected the Republican party from their 2008 death. It would be unrealistic for Establishment types to expect be given full control after their abysmal performance in the last decade! They can use their control to nominate one of their own. But do you not smell a repeat of 1996? I do!

Which leave us one real choice for the 2012. This candidate would do well with "blue collar Democrats, Hispanics and Evangelicals." He would score well with both women and the newest and most volitile political faction: "Young, upwardly mobile professionals and technicians."(Yuppietechs). He would even make inroads in traditional Democratic strongholds, thanks to his conservative Roman Catholic values.

I am speaking of Florida Senator, Marco Rubio. We must remember however, he was not the choice of the Establishment. Mitch McConnell and Lamar Alexander urged him not to run for the Florida Senate in 2010. They warned him that their support and GOP money was headed Charlie Crist's way.

Without money and the support of the Republican hierarchy, Marco Rubio rolled up his sleeves and went to work. His weapon was modern communication, namely Facebook, You Tube and Twitter. He made it clear that the election was "about an idea, not me." People were amazed at his ability to speak "noteless" for an hour or more. He quickly labeled Crist(never using the Governor's name) as the "Arlen Specter wing of the party." In May of 2009 he was 40 points behind the popular Crist. In May 2010, he was 30 points ahead in the polls. Crist quit the Republican party and ran as an independent. In the end, Rubio pulled 52% of the total statewide vote. The remaining 48% was divided between Crist and the Democrat, Kendrick Meek.

True, Rubio has said that he is not running for President. But, most of those answers were rendered when Mike Huckabee was thought to be running. The landscape is different now that Huck is out of the race. Rubio and Huckabee are friends. Without question, Huckabee would endorse and actively campaign for Rubio. Ditto for Jeb Bush.

Could a 41-year-old Rubio have a realistic chance against Barack Obama? Think about it! John F. Kennedy was 43. Bill Clinton was 44. Rubio has more experience than did Obama at the time Obama launched his Presidential bid. After all, Rubio was previously Speaker of the Florida House of Representives. He is the son of a bartender and a hotel maid. Both were Cuban exiles. He still owes money on his college education. Sound familiar?

He is a first generation American. His wife immigrated from France as a child. They have four children. How many immigrants could relate to him as their President? How many traditional Roman Catholics in states like New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island might cross party lines on his behalf?

Liberal pundit Arriana Huffington called Marco Rubio "the Obama of the right." She predicted that if he were the Republican nominee, "California would be in play."

Rubio himself might need to be convinced. But when the potential electoral votes are projected,with the exception of Jeb Bush, it begins to sound like any Republican candidate other than Marco Rubio would be a waste of time.

1 comment:

  1. jeff, i think you've characterized the field fairly accurate, with the exception of michelle bachman... i think it's too early to count her out(and sarah palin would endorse her- i believe sarah is advising her now)... also, you didn't mention allen west... the dems are going to play the race card if they can, and west would put an end to that... so would rubio, but i'm not as confident as you, that we can convince him to run... whoever we nominate must have the backing of the tea party(in which i'm a member)... the teaparty was the reason we dominated in the 2010 election... but i think a lot of Americans think the way i do, which is... we would vote for daffy duck over barry soetoros hussein obama.