2012 Presidential Election

The 2012 GOP Presidential Nomination Becomes A Two Horse Race

Rick Perry is on his way out. Michelle Bachmann is on her way out. Herman Cain is likely out. Chris Christie is not running. Donald Trump played the role of creepy seducer for about two weeks. And the most sane men in the GOP 2012 presidential nominee field, Jon Huntsman, Jr., and Buddy Roemer, the latter I could actually vote for in another era, never had a chance in this field of wingnuts and freedom hating millionaires.

That leaves just two men. Two men who happen to be the veterans of the pack. They are the ones who have spent the most years trying to earn a GOP presidential nomination, and therefore, should have been the front runners all along. And those two men are Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. Romney should still be the favorite, based on the history of these things. However this installment of the GOP presidential nomination race has broken the pattern set over the last 40 years. It has been fascinating to watch. Simply the record number of debates has been fascinating. There will be more GOP primary debates than any NFL team has games this season, including the eventual Super Bowl participants.

I think we might have finally put infidelity behind us as a destroyer of men's political careers. How else can we explain the return of Newt Gingritch? Here's a man who cheated on two wives and is thrice married. It should be pointed out that Gingrich left his first two wives not only in the middle of extramarital affairs, but while they were stricken with a long term illness. Here's a man who shamelessly had an affair with the woman who became his current wife while prosecuting Bill Clinton for having an affair with a White House intern. Then, just a few months ago, he spun the story in a unique way when he explained that his affairs were driven by his passion to serve the nation. Newt is a passionate guy. And passionate guys will scamble to replace their wives as they walk the long road to the White House.

Cheating on one's wife and divorcing her when she's in the hospital is the sort of behavior that destroyed Gary Hart and John Edwards, respectively. But not Newt. He has gone from former House Speaker with no elected future 13 years ago, to having about a 45% chance of becoming the star of the 2012 GOP ticket today. He has spent most of the last decade as a lobbiest and paid speaker at Republican conferences and events. He had no chance of being elected to public office ever again. He wasn't seriously considered as a presidential candidate between 1998 and 2008, when George W. Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney were the big three ticket condenters. And does anyone remember this video from 2003

Newt being punked by Sacha Baron Cohen was confirmation that he was done as a politician, yes? How incorrect I was, with a lot of other, more qualified people who appear on television to analyize politics.

While I took a look at Newt's growing web site, I couldn't help but notice this text in Callista Gingrich's blog within site (which is called Callista's Canvas!):

Acquaintances admit that Callista Gingrich’s stiff smile and crisp uniform make it easier for detractors to portray her as cold and manipulative, a characterization they say is not accurate, though she has apparently resisted internal campaign efforts to soften her edges. Those sources also say it is hard to overstate her ever-growing involvement in the Gingrich empire and her husband’s campaign, for better or for worse.

Actually, go and read that entire blog post. It is incredibly frank and revealing. Could you imagine any presidential candidate's wife not only allowing her cold personality to be acknowledged by the campaign writers, but also acknowledging just how much of the family's K Street lobbying income is diverted to her favorite private institutions? Yes, it's public information, available to those who seek it out. But I have never seen it disclosed so clearly on a candidate's web site. Expect Rachel Maddow or Chris Matthews to pick up on Callista and the "five Gingrich firms on K Street," or, as Callista calls it above, "the Gingrich empire."

Because It Is His Turn

There is an old tradition in GOP presidential politics: the tradition of 'waiting your turn' at a presidential nomination. It's a little like the Oscars. Some actors and actresses get their first Oscar after several tries, until the majority of the Academy members agree that it is his or her turn. Well the same rule seems to apply to the GOP, except with more rigidity.

Nixon had his turn in 1960, but was awarded a second chance in 1968. After that, every GOP presidential nominee, except George W. Bush, has been an older career party leader with GOP presidential primary experience, whose turn had come up. We had Reagan, followed by George H.W. Bush, then Bob Dole, then George W. Bush (who sucker-punched John McCain), and then John McCain was awarded his chance.  It seems there is a structure in which these men have to earn their nomination.  Three of the five names above won the party nomination on their second try. The GOP seems to like this dues-paying exercise.

And next in the batting order seems to be Mitt Romney.  It isn't going to be Sarah Palin.  It isn't going to be Bobby Jindal. And it isn't going to be another newcomer like John Ensign of Arizona or Scott Brown of Massachusetts. It's Romney. You can see him coming a mile away.

Although I do admit, the VP list for the GOP will be interesting.  Not only would John Ensign and Scott Brown be acceptable choices, but there is a small number of GOP leaders who want Puerto Rico governor Luis Fortuño on the ticket.  He would not only be the first Latino on a presidential ticket, but also be the first national candidate born in the future state of Puerto Rico.

GOP Re-Affirming Itself As The Party Of The South

If the 2012 GOP presidential nominee turns out to be a governor, chances are he will be from the south, and not Alaska. Governor Palin was denied a leadership seat in the Republican Governor's Association on Friday. This would make running for Ted Stevens' Senate seat more appealing for Palin, assuming she both wants to run for president and strengthen her resume and experience. So assuming she is the GOP Senator to throw her hat into the ring in 2012, we have several southern governors (current and former) who are in-position to at least explore a run in two years:

Mike Huckabee, 53, former fat governor of Arkansas
Bobby Jindal, 37, governor of Louisiana, who is making progress on his populist policy-making skills
Charlie Crist, 52, governor of Florida
Rick Perry, 58, governor of Texas
Sonny Perdue, 61, Governor of Georgia
Haley Barbour, 61, Governor of Mississippi, and an unapologetic ally of White Supramacists (who does he pal around with?)
Mark Sanford, 48, governor of South Carolina, who was given the RGA chairmanship

It certainly does seem that the GOP is going to remain a party of rural and/or southern voters. That is the strategy for now. Their other route would have to be an urban Republican celebrity - a Schwarzenegger-type figure. But the former is far more likely.