November 19, 2014

RNC 2018 Straw Poll Lists 33 Possible Candidates

The Republican National Committee recently began an on-line straw poll asking its members which candidate they would like to see. The respondents are to circle any three. The list includes:

  1. New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte
  2. Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour
  3. Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton
  4. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush
  5. Businessman Herman Cain
  6. Dr. Ben Carson
  7. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
  8. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz
  9. Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels
  10. Former CEO Carly Fiona
  11. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich
  12. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley
  13. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee
  14. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal
  15. Ohio Gov. John Kasich
  16. New York Rep. Peter King
  17. New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez
  18. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin
  19. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul
  20. Former Rep. Ron Paul
  21. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty
  22. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence
  23. Texas Gov. Rick Perry
  24. Ohio Sen. Rob Portman
  25. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
  26. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio
  27. Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan
  28. Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval
  29. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum
  30. South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott
  31. South Dakota Sen. John Thune
  32. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker
  33. Former Florida Rep. Allen West

Write-in votes are allowed.

The results have not been published anywhere that I’ve seen, and I don’t particularly wish to sign up just so they can get my email address to spam me. However, if you are inclined to participate, here is the link.

November 12, 2014

A Personal Appraisal of the Early Field

Since some of the other posters from R4’12 seem to be returning (great to see you, Matt and Mark), I thought I might do the same. A good place to start might be with a very preliminary assessment of the field that is shaping up. In order to do that fairly, however, I think I need to first position myself, so that you know from what perspective I’m coming (or, if you prefer, what my biases are).

In the run-up to ’12, I was an ardent Mitch Daniels supporter. After Daniels withdrew, I never really settled on another candidate, though I tried to get hyped up about several, most notably Tim Pawlenty; hell, I even gave Jon Huntsman a look (and then quickly backed away). Eventually, of course, it became obvious that Romney would get the nomination, but I couldn’t work up enthusiasm about him, either, since I was fairly certain he’d lose (admission: there was a point in October where I came around to thinking he might pull it out – wrong again!). However, I was out of the country by then and unable to do anything other than go to the nearest consulate and vote for him).

Which brings us to 2016. I would still support Daniels in a heartbeat, but he seems perfectly happy at Purdue, and getting him to change his mind about subjecting his family to the ugliness that American politics has become is about as likely as the Romney and Palin supporters of R4’12 organizing a ‘Draft Bob Hovic’ movement.

So I’ll have to find someone who can fill the same slot – reformist, executive experience, competence, able to relate to ordinary people, fiscally conservative, socially conservative, and defense-minded.

On those last three points let me add this: our party (and any party that is going to be more than a splinter movement – I’m looking at you, Libertarians) is a coalition. Any candidate that is going to unite a coalition must be acceptable to all major factions. Not that s/he is the favorite of all of them (or any of them). But s/he must not be obnoxious to any of them.

Matt Coulter listed a number of subgroups in his recent (excellent) post, but I’ll be old-fashioned and go with the old ficons, socons, and defcons. The Republican nominee need not be a hard-core deficit hawk, but must not go far in the opposite direction; need not be a culture warrior but must not be pro-choice (or even weakly pro-life); need not be an interventionist, but must not be isolationist. Which means the candidate must be able to thread needles quite nicely.

Oh – and one more qualification: I refuse to support anyone who can’t win.

For an early choice I’m leaning toward Scott Walker. Walker is identified primarily with fiscal and reform issues (especially reining in public employee unions), but his social policy credentials are sufficient that I think my most ardently socon friends would find no problem accepting him (part of why I think this is because he is well to my right on social issues). I know nothing about his defense views (having held only local and state offices, he has not had occasion to take positions on defense). I’ll look forward to seeing what he has to say about defense and foreign policy.

He also comes from a solidly middle-class background (mom a bookkeeper, dad a Baptist minister) and can relate to the suburban and blue-collar people Republicans must get in order to win. He has that Midwestern Nice thing going for him (though it did nothing for Tim Pawlenty). Coupled with his inoffensive (some say ‘bland’ and/or ‘boring’) manner, he (like Daniels) seems able to take strong positions without being offensive to middle-of-the-roaders.

My early second choice is Bobby Jindal, who shares many of Walker’s qualities – a proven record of reform at the state level (including a successful school voucher program), plus strong ficon and socon credibility. In addition, his grasp of policy is legendary, and to be blunt, his skin color is a positive. As with Walker, I know nothing of his defense views, and I’ll be waiting to learn more.

On the negative side, I have a perception of Jindal as being very outspoken on social issues – to the point that it might create problems for him with social moderates (whether or not strongly-held socon positions are a big political negative in a national race is, in my opinion, dependent on words and tone more than the positions themselves). This is just a perception, I admit, and only time will tell. I also think a Midwesterner would be a better choice than a Southerner.

It’s no accident that my two main choices are both governors. I strongly prefer governors for two reasons: 1) If Obama has proven anything, it is that executive experience matters greatly; and 2) I think the anti-Washington mood will continue into 2016, and these two will have little difficulty painting Hillary as an ‘insider’ and contrasting her to themselves.

These are the two I’m most interested in at this point. There’s a long way to go, obviously (at this point last time, Mark Sanford headed my list – but I’d rather not discuss that, thank you), so I retain my option to change at any time.

As for the others, just a few words on why I choose not (for now) to back them.

Mitt Romney – Obviously meets my executive experience criterion, in spades. He totally fails on appealing to blue-collar types and is past his sell-by date. In any case, I’m inclined to think, for now, that he isn’t running.

Mike Huckabee – Another governor who can sell socon positions with a smile, though I think he is so closely identified with social issues that he comes across as a one-issue candidate. His Arkansas record makes ficons like me uneasy, to put it mildly. I can’t support him for that reason, and I think he will have problems with a big enough bloc of Republicans that he’ll be stymied.

Rand Paul – Certainly a better salesman for libertarianism than his father, though that isn’t saying much. (As a libertarian myself, I prayed nightly for Ron Paul to just go away). Unless he starts quickly to moderate his foreign policy views, however, I think he has zero chance of getting the nomination. Also – no executive experience.

Jeb Bush – If only he had a different last name. By all accounts an excellent governor, but … well, let’s put it this way: We have an opportunity to run against a hard-core insider and we are contemplating nominating a Bush? Really?

Marco Rubio – No executive experience. Shot himself in the foot on comprehensive immigration reform, but probably backed away sufficiently that it will be forgiven/forgotten. Probably hasn’t been in Washington long enough to be perceived as being one of them. My problem with him is that I see no reason to support him other than his ethnicity. (We do owe him thanks for ridding the party of Charlie Crist).

Ted Cruz – Another short-term Senator. In addition to having no executive background, the guy is a loose cannon. Heaven only knows what he’d spout on the campaign trail.

Rick Perry — We’ll see if he learned anything from 2012. If he did, he might be worth giving attention to (though I think he’s damaged goods). If he didn’t, we won’t have to wait long for him to be gone.

Chris Christie – “Shut up and sit down!” might go over big in NY/NJ, but it will get real old real fast in the rest of the country. The guy just lacks the temperament for a long national campaign. I’ll never forgive him for embracing Obama right before election day – that finished the guy for me.

Paul Ryan – A ficon’s wet dream and one of my ABR options late in the 2012 primary season. On sober reflection, I don’t think a Representative can do it – though he has the advantage of having run a national campaign (losing, but still …). My objection is no executive experience, but I certainly wouldn’t be upset if he were the nominee.

Rick Santorum – He apparently hasn’t figured out that the only reason he did so well in ’12 is that he was the final ABR. If Huckabee gets in, Santorum will be eliminated in Ames, otherwise he might make it to New Hampshire.

Ben Carson – Okay, I’m scraping bottom now. Time to quit.

June 20, 2012

No One Knows, NO ONE

As soon as Mitt Romney had clinched the Republican nomination for president several weeks ago, I wrote a column with my own list of prominent persons who might be considered for vice president. I have been observing and writing for presidential politics long enough to know it was no more that. My list included Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana, Governor Robert McDonnell of Virginia, and Governor Susana Martinez of New Mexico. Soon after that, more lists appeared, many of them including other names. The person I have thought to be the most likely choice, Senator Portman, has appeared on virtually every list, and seems to be the first choice of several observers.

Speculation about a vice presidential choice is one of the most inevitable, and least useful, aspects of a presidential campaign. With the exception of 1956 Democratic nominee Adlai Stevenson, only the nominee makes the choice after a highly confidential vetting process (a process heightened after 1972 Democratic nominee Geroge McGovern’s initial choice had to resign from the ticket after public disclosures about his health).  I say “least useful” because so much that is written and said about who will be chosen before the choice is announced is wrong.

Already, we read published speculations that former Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota is the new frontrunner, if not the certain choice, to be picked by
2012 presumptive nominee Mitt Romney. Senator Portman, these speculations also say, has been eliminated from consideration. Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, it is also said, is the second choice, and Governor McDonnell has also been taken off the list. The basis for most of these speculations is that certain politicians have “bonded” with Mr. Romney, and others have not.

It appears, however, that the vetting process has only begun, and that Mr. Romney is only now becoming better acquainted with the men and women he might choose.

Publications and networks, most of which have been hostile to the Republican cause, are breathlessly reporting “unnamed sources” with inside information about who is in and who is out. A recent such report, allegedly from high sources in the Romney campaign, stated that Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, and a major Romney ally, was not being vetted. Mr. Romney, on the campaign trail, promptly refuted the report, stating that Mr. Rubio was being fully vetted.

My rule of thumb is that ANY report before the official announcement, no matter how high (always anonymous) the sources from which it came, is to be viewed with considerable skepticism. Ninety-plua per cent of such reports, to be blunt, are false. (And those that are true are lucky guesses.)

Only one person knows who the nominee will be (Mr. Romney) and only one other person (Beth Myers, who he placed in charge of the nomination vetting process) knows fully who is being vetted, who is not, and the status of that process. As the date of the announcement approaches, more facts may be known, but the final choice will be a very tightly kept secret. The whole purpose of drawing out the process, other than the practical efficacy of the vetting, is to create suspense, and maintain news interest in the campaign. It is unlikely the final choice will be announced any time soon.

A lot of folks with various connections to the Romney campaign, to the Republican Party, and even to Mr. Romney personally, will be tempted to
parade their self-importance (hiding behind anonymity) to members of the news media by “leaking inside information.” And virtually everyone (myself included) will indulge in speculation about who the final choice will be.

But only Mitt Romney and Beth Myers will really know the facts, and they won’t be revealing anything until the final choice is made.

A little anecdote from the 2008 campaign: I was told by VERY HIGH sources the day before Senator John McCain was to make his vice presidential choice known that it would be then Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. Living in Minneapolis, I drove over to the governor’s residence in St. Paul that evening to see if the secret service were now protecting the residence, as they would have to do if Mr. Pawlenty had been chosen. No secret service were visible. In fact, they WERE quite visible that night accompanying Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska (who had been chosen.)

Mr. Pawlenty might be chosen this time, or it might be Mr Portman. It might be someone else. But no one knows who it will be now, and until a few hours before the announcement, no one but Mitt Romney will know.

You don’t have to wait for the fat lady to sing, but it will be a good idea to watch for which vice presidential hopeful is suddenly joined by a small horde of figures with little devices in their ears.

________________________________________________________________

-Copyright (c) 2012 by Barry Casselman.  All rights reserved. Please visit Mr. Casselman’s personal site

April 19, 2012

Veep Poll: The Third Round

The second round of Veep Polling has passed (results here) and we’re moving on to the third round.

If John Thune was selected as Romney’s VP, how content would you be on a scale from 1 to 10 (1=You’d stay home, 10=You’d canvas the country for Romney)?

If Bobby Jindal was selected as Romney’s VP, how content would you be on a scale from 1 to 10 (1=You’d stay home, 10=You’d canvas the country for Romney)?

If Mike Huckabee was selected as Romney’s VP, how content would you be on a scale from 1 to 10 (1=You’d stay home, 10=You’d canvas the country for Romney)?

If Mitch Daniels was selected as Romney’s VP, how content would you be on a scale from 1 to 10 (1=You’d stay home, 10=You’d canvas the country for Romney)?

Example (mine):

John Thune- 5

Bobby Jindal- 10

Mike Huckabee- 6

Mitch Daniels- 8

Note:  I realize that some of you may not be overly familiar with some of these candidates, but please try to provide a response for each, or I will not be able to compile the data.  Lack of familiarity (which would likely lead to average numbers) is a response in of itself.

-Matthew E. Miller can be contacted at Obilisk18@yahoo.com

  12:00 pm
Bobby Jindal, Mike Huckabee, Mitch Daniels, Veep Watch  

April 18, 2012

February 2, 2012

Results-Oriented Conservatism

Yesterday, Indiana became the first state in the manufacturing belt, what was once called the rust belt, to enact “Right-to-Work” legislation.  Governor Mitch Daniels signed the bill into law immediately following its passage by the state senate.  The RTW law represents another, and perhaps final, jewel in the distinguished crown of results-oriented conservative Governor Mitch Daniels.  It was preceeded by his stellar record of decertifying public-sector unions back in 2005, pro-growth budget and tax reform, and education reform, among others.  Thinking back through my many years in politics, I observed two distinct classes of conservative politicians and political leaders—those who made noise, and those who made a difference.  Occasionally, but not often, the categories overlap.  Mitch Daniels is clearly in the category of “making a difference” and his record as Governor in Indiana stands as tribute.  Hopefully, Governors Walker in Wisconsin and Christie in New Jersey will be as successful as Daniels has been.  Each of them fit squarely in the category of “results-oriented” conservatives who are making a difference.  The GOP, and the country, desperately need more like them.

  7:56 pm
2012 Misc., Chris Christie, Conservatism, Mitch Daniels  

January 24, 2012

GOP Response to Obama—A Reminder

A reminder to all of our readers that Governor Mitch Daniels (R-Indiana) will deliver the GOP response to Obama’s State of the Union Address tonight.

As one of several Race regulars who had wanted Daniels to run for president this time, I believe it will be interesting to see his address tonight and to compare it in tone, content, and substance to that of our presidential candidates as well as to Obama.

[Edit] Kavon says: On this topic, here’s the RGA’s new video entitled, “The Veteran”, which promotes Gov. Daniels’ record:


January 19, 2012

Daniels Reconsidering 2012?

The Weekly Standard has obtained what they are told was a draft copy of Daniels’ counter to the President’s State of the Union address. In it, he says that he will reconsider his decision to not run for President.

Here’s a quote:

But in preparing this response to President Obama, I’ve been struck, even more forcefully than before, just how urgently our federal government needs to be remodeled. In fact, it needs to be remodeled even more dramatically than our state government in Indiana had to be. President Obama has failed to do this in his first term. He would fail to do this in his second term, if he were to win one.

Which raises the question: Is the current crop of Republican presidential candidates up to denying President Obama a second term? And would any of them be up to the necessary remodeling of our if they were to win? Unfortunately, lots of my fellow Republicans have doubts on both scores. A recent poll found that 7 out of 10 Republicans across the nation would like more options to choose from for president.

The candidates for the Republican nomination are my friends. I like and admire them. But I must say I’ve increasingly come to share the doubt that any of them would be likely to win, or would be likely to govern successfully.

So I want to announce tonight that I am open to reconsidering my decision not to seek the presidency in 2012. I have not wanted to run, for family reasons among others. I have hoped someone else would prove up to the task. But my family and I have now decided that country must come first. I am considering joining the race.

But I need to know if you want me to run. I only want to enter the race if you, the people, think I should. So here’s what I propose: None of the candidates currently running has received more than a total of 300,000 votes in the three contests so far. So here’s a test of my viability: If in the next few days I receive more than 300,000 emails, at http://mymanmitch.com/, asking me to run—then I will take that as a sign that, despite my previous reluctance, I should enter the contest.

If I run, I will be a reluctant candidate, in the sense that I did not plan on seeking this position. But let me assure you of this: if I do run, I will not run a reluctant campaign. I will run full out. I will compete in those primaries where I can still get on the ballot, I will go all out to win at the convention where the nomination will likely be decided, and I will take the fight to President Obama in the fall. If I run, I will run to win—because this country deserves leadership that will fundamentally remodel our government and restore our nation.

Thank you, good night, and God Bless America.

It’s unclear if this is a hoax or what, but it’s interesting. Also, may prove difficult for Daniels, if he were to run, to get on the ballot in many of these states.

Feel free to speculate in the comments section.

_______________________________________________________

-Matt Newman is a conservative blogger from Maryland who blogs at Old Line ElephantPundit League and Tweets far too often.

  2:32 pm
2012 Misc., Mitch Daniels  

December 14, 2011

Weird Scenario 1: The Late Entrant

The turmoil of the Republican nomination process, and the unhappiness of a large part of the party with all the choices, has led to recent speculation that we might have a brokered convention and/or the nominee might be someone not in the current field.

In the interests of full disclosure, I must note that I am not an unbiased observer on this point, since I count myself among those who look at the current field with disappointment (well, okay, ‘disappointment’ is a weak word – ‘revulsion’ is more like it).

Sean Trende assessed the possibility of a brokered convention, and rated the chances as low, which I think is fair. But that there is any realistic chance is remarkable – it has been sixty years since either party’s convention has gone past the first ballot.

So what are the factors that could cause a brokered convention this time?

  • The two leading candidates are deeply flawed in the eyes of many in the party
  • A substantial portion of the delegates will be selected by proportional methods
  • There is a strong third candidate (Ron Paul) who has the resources and the will to stay in to the bitter end

The factor that, added to the above, may mean a late entrant has a chance to emerge as the nominee from a brokered convention is that the nominating process is back-loaded.

  • Several large states are going late, with winner-take-all delegations
  • A significant number of states have relatively late filing deadlines

Let’s examine that last point first, because it brings into question the idea that it is now impossible to enter the race. Let’s say that someone decided to enter after Iowa and New Hampshire (it would, of course, have to be someone who has the name and the establishment support to credibly do so). The following fifteen states have filing deadlines three weeks or more after New Hampshire votes, giving time (maybe) to get on the ballot:

  • Arkansas (3/1 deadline) – 36 delegates
  • California (3/23) – 172
  • Connecticut (3/2) – 28
  • Delaware (2/24) – 17
  • Indiana (2/10) – 46
  • Kentucky (1/31) – 45
  • Montana (3/12) – 26
  • Nebraska (3/7) – 35
  • New Jersey (4/2) – 50
  • New Mexico (3/16) – 23
  • New York (2/9) – 95
  • Oregon (3/6) – 29
  • Pennsylvania (2/14) – 72
  • South Dakota (3/27) – 28
  • Utah (3/15) – 40

These states have a total of 742 delegates and most vote in April-June, giving a new candidate time to campaign. The strategy would probably be to concentrate on New York and Pennsylvania, which vote in April. Victories there would lead to May-June wins in other states (see the chart on Sean’s article for voting dates). A candidate who captured a big piece of the 742 delegates could prevent anyone else from getting the nomination and would go to the convention with a strong argument as to why he (to randomly select a pronoun) should be the compromise choice.

Let’s say that when the dust settles in June, the scoreboard looks something like this:

  • 800 Gingrich
  • 800 Romney
  • 400 Late Entrant
  • 200 Paul
  • 88 Everybody Else

In this scenario, Romney and Gingrich have so soiled each other that they are unacceptable to too much of the party and are too wounded to battle Obama. After a nasty campaign, it’s unlikely that 350 Romney delegates could be persuaded to switch to Gingrich, or vice versa. That leaves Late Entrant and Paul. We know it won’t be Paul, so …

As the headline should make clear, this is not a prediction. I’m not even saying it is at all likely. But I do think it is just barely possible, and its slim chances seem to be growing.

This has been the strangest campaign I’ve seen in my five decades of following politics. There’s no reason to think it can’t get weirder still.

One final point: Can we put a name to the Late Entrant? The obvious choices are Daniels, Christie, Ryan, and Jindal. My pick, of course, would be Daniels, but unless the Women’s Caucus of the Daniels household has had an epiphany, that isn’t happening. Christie has endorsed Romney and this scenario involves Romney staying in all the way (I don’t see a brokered convention if he’s knocked out early), so eliminate Christie.

Jindal would be possible if Perry is eliminated after Iowa or New Hampshire. Ryan has not endorsed, so he could still get in. John Thune? Suggestions are welcomed.

Here are a few other assessments of the chances for a brokered convention or a Late Entrant: Brian Bolduc in National Review, Rhodes Cook at the Crystal Ball, Nate Silver at NYT.

October 13, 2011

An Interesting Question

From the Christian Scientist Monitor (emphasis added):

Watching Rick Perry’s debate performance Tuesday night, [the author] (along with many observers in the press) was struck by how itching-to-get-out-of-there uncomfortable he looked. It was like watching someone’s half-hearted attempt to engage in polite conversation at a dinner party he was only attending as a favor to his wife.

Which has led us today to this fundamental question: Does Rick Perry really want to be president? Or, more specifically, might the Texas governor regret his decision to jump into the race?

Tellingly, when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie offered up his reasons for passing on a White House run, he said he’d tried to imagine himself in a hotel room in Des Moines “and it’s 5:30 in the morning and it’s 15 below, and it’s time for me to get up and go shake hands at the meatpacking plant.”

His point? To subject yourself to the true grind of a presidential campaign – with the loss of privacy, the discipline of having to be always on message, the tedium of giving the same speech over and over, and the out-and-out hard work required behind the scenes – you have to really, really want it.

And almost by definition, a candidate who jumps in only after some arm twisting by supporters – as Perry did and Christie did not – probably doesn’t want it that bad.

Last time around, we had Fred Thompson. There was a great clamor for him to get in the race, too, but anyone watching real close could see that his heart just wasn’t in it. So when he finally did jump in, his campaign just slowly withered on the vine.

Perry simply was not ready. Everyone convinced him that all he had to do was show up, swagger a bit, talk real big, sling a few half-truths about Mitt Romney, and the nomination was his. He was in no way ready. And it has blown up in his face. Now he’s stuck with sinking polls, $15 millions in the bank, and seemingly hating every minute of it. Now what?

We’ve had a number of candidates this time around whose supporters did everything they could to convince them to join the race, but were wise enough to know that it wasn’t for them. First, there was Mike Huckabee. He was leading the polls when he let it be known that he was not running this time. Mitch Daniels was another. And let’s not forget Haley Barbour and Jim DeMint. Both of them had supporters begging them to run. Even Jeb Bush got some action.

(more…)

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