- Pre-Campaign « The Field on Nov. 2
The field of potential 2012 candidates includes a few
familiar faces from 2008, several very active pre-candidates who appear
likely to run, and others whose intentions are impossible to discern.
Former Gov. Sarah Palin
the headline grabber among the field in 2009-10. In July 2009 she
surprised just about everyone by resigning her position as Governor of
Douglas MacArthur she said she was "advancing in another direction") >. She followed
that with the success
of her book Going Rogue
(HarperCollins), which came out in November 2009 with a first printing
of 1.5 million copies >.
In the 2010 midterm elections
Palin made a series of
high profile endorsements; throwing her
support behind dozens of candidates including a number of "mamma
grizzlies." She was credited, for
example, with helping boost Nikki Haley to victory in the South
Carolina gubernatorial primary and her endorsements played a major role
in attorney Joe Miller's upset win over Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the
Alaska Senate primary and Christine O'Donnell's upset win over Rep.
Mike Castle in the Delaware Senate primary. Not all of her
worked out, however. Karen Handel fell just short in the Georgia
gubernatorial runoff, and her
endorsement of Brian Murphy in the Maryland gubernatorial primary
failed to have much effect in
his campaign against former Gov. Bob Ehrlich. According to the Washington Post's "Palin
Endorsement Tracker" Palin made a total of 64 endorsements; her
candidates won in 33 races and lost in 21.
there is the promise of more Palin
activity. TLC's eight-part series "Sarah Palin's Alaska" is set
to premier on November 14. Palin has another book coming out;
America by Heart (HarperCollins)
If Sarah Palin was not in the
news, her daughter Bristol drew some attention. Bristol announced
Levi Johnston in a cover story of Us
Weekly in July 2010 >,
Due to her
celebrity status, Sarah Palin dominated coverage among those mentioned
possible 2012 candidates; during 2009-10 she
appeared on about two
covers, while the only other prospect to even muster
more than one was Mitch Daniels with two. On July 29,
2010 SarahPAC Treasurer Tim Crawford reported that Palin's Facebook
page had reached two million fans; by comparison all of the other
prospects had fewer than half a million.
For all her Facebook
friends, Palin has ample critics who deride her as a "former half-term
governor" or believe that she is just cashing in on her
celebrity. Skeptics doubt her seriousness, doubt whether she will
run, and doubt whether she could win.
Gov. Mitt Romney
was seen as something of frontrunner, in part because of his third
place finish in 2008 and because his turnaround of
the 2002 Olympics and business experience have given him a "Mr. FixIt"
reputation that suggests he might be well suited to addressing the
nation's economic difficulties. He also has proven fundraising
leadership PAC brought in significantly more money
than the PACs of any of the other 2012 prospects, and he spread the
wealth to GOP candidates and causes (1, 2, 3).
Romney issued a
book. Unlike Palin's book, his
Greatness (St. Martin's Press, March 2010) was
decidedly policy oriented.
For Romney, having run a
previous presidential campaign is both an advantage and a
disadvantage. In 2007-08 Romney's appeal
to social conservatives failed to
pull him to first in the Iowa caucuses and only resulted in a fourth
place showing in South Carolina. Romney
faced charges of being flip-flopper, questions about his Morman faith,
and criticism of the health reform he instituted in
Massachusetts. Detractors may again raise these points. Yet
Romney's experience in the 2008 primaries
introduced him to voters and gave him the experience of running.
from the areas that did not work in
2007-08, and indeed he has shown signs of adjusting his message and
approach. Romney is said to be downplaying his appeal to social
conservatives and emphasizing the economy and national security.
In the 2008 pre-campaign period (Nov. 2004-Nov. 7, 2006) Romney made a
dozen visits to Iowa; this cycle he made two visits in the comparable
period. Observers also see a more casual,
jeans-wearing Romney as a candidate who might connect better with
Gov. Mike Huckabee remains popular in Iowa and his HuckPAC made
126 endorsements during the cycle >.
Mainly, however, Huckabee kept busy
activities, and it is not clear that he has any interest in another
campaign. In addition to his weekly
"Huckabee" on FOX News, on July 26, 2010 he launched "The Huckabee
Show" a daily hour-long program produced by Twentieth Television and
running on seven FOX owned and operated stations for a test period of
six weeks. Also of note, Huckabee changed his
residence to Florida.
Pawlenty ("T-Paw") been among the most active in signalling
2012 White House
bid and visiting early states (seven visits to Iowa, five to New
Hampshire and one to South Carolina). Pawlenty might benefit from
to first-in-the-nation Iowa. Pawlenty's
innovative and conservative leadership to
balance that state's [Minnesota's] budget, cut spending, reform health
care and improve schools without raising taxes." On Aug. 31, 2010
Pawlenty gained a bit of
notice by signing an executive order "directing state agencies to
discretionary participation in the federal health care legislation
known as Obamacare." >
mate in 2008 and is term-limited in 2010. His forthcoming
book Courage to Stand: An American
(Tyndale House Publishers, Jan. 2011) will provide him a ready vehicle
for further travels once he leaves office.
Johnson has been
conducting his pre-campaign activity
through a 501(c)(4) political advocacy organization, the OUR America
Initiative, rather than through a leadership PAC. He brings
a strong libertarian
orientation and could attract many who supported Ron Paul, if Paul does
not run. Johnson could fare better than the Texas congressman by
building on Paul's base with a more
energetic and focused campaign. He would certainly be the only
candidate in the field to
have climbed Mt. Everest (in 2003); more recently he completed
ride across Iowa, in July 2010 and the Breck Epic ultra-endurance
mountain bike stage race in Colorado in August 2010. Because
he is little known and has a compelling story and a clear message,
Johnson could do better than expected, but his advocacy of marijuana
legalization may undermine his efforts. His record of running
positive campaigns could also help him stand out from the crowd.
Rick Santorum was the most active of the prospects
in the pre-campaign period (he made seven visits to Iowa, five to New
Hampshire and six to South Carolina). He would bring to the race
social conservative views [speech],
which to launch a
Newt Gingrich would bring a lot of ideas and historical
race. Gingrich says that he has "never been this
possibility of running and will decide early next year. However,
Gingrich took a similar approach in 2008 before opting not to
run. Gingrich was
quoted in the Andrew
Standard profile of
Gov. Daniels as telling the governor, "But say you’re leaving the door
open, and the national press will pay a lot more attention to your
viewpoint." Given his past record, Gingrich could be pursuing
this course. However, this cycle would likely be Gingrich's last
plausible chance for a White House run, and it is
interesting to note that his wife Callista has assumed a high profile
in his activities this cycle.
Gingrich has conducted much of his activity through his 527
group American Solutions for Winning
the Future, which is described as "a tri-partisan citizen action
network of over 1.5 Million members." Beyond American Solutions,
built up a mini-empire of groups
ranging from the Center for Health Transformation to The Americano, "a
that offers a real take on news and opinon for Hispanics and true
Conservatism." Gingrich also added the political tome To Save
America: Stopping Obama's
Secular-Socialist Machine (Regnery, May 2010) to
his oeuvre and has another of his historical novels, Valley Forge
(Thomas Dunne Books),
due out right after the mid-terms.
Gingrich was one of the most
outspoken critics of the proposal to build a Muslim cultural center
including a mosque near Ground Zero in New York City. In a
mid-August he tweeted, "GZM Imam is apologist 4 sharia law & calls
US accessory to 9/11.Won’t call Hamas terrorist org.Facts Obama forgot
to mention." In his speech at the Values Voter Summit in
September Gingrich declared, "I am totally oposed to any effort to
impose sharia on the United States, and we should have a federal law
that says under no circumstance in any jursdiction in the United
States, will sharia be used by an court to apply to any judgment made
about American law."
Because of his strong
record as a fiscal conservative Gov.
Mitch Daniels, who is term-limited in
2012, could be a solid
prospect if he decides to get in. Daniels has disclaimed interest
running, while not ruling it out. He engaged in little
that suggests a White House bid. Although a September 2010
Jonathan Martin in Politico described
cover story in the June
15, 2010 issue of The Weekly Standard
which caused a lot of buzz.
article also touched
off one of the more
noted tempest-in-a-teapot skirmishes of the pre-campaign period.
Ferguson, in his profile story, wrote, "And
then, he [Daniels] says, the next president, whoever he is, 'would have
call a truce on the so-called social issues.'" >
of life and traditional marriage are not bargaining chips nor are
they political issues. They are moral issues." Tony
president of the Family Research Council, found Daniels' statement
"astonishing." "Unfortunately, comments he made this week raise
questions about his level of commitment to fundamental issues like
life-leading many of us to wonder if he has the ability to lead a
unified conservative movement," Perkins stated. Months later at
the Value Voters summit in Washington, conservative activist Phyllis
Shlafly again alluded to the statement
Barbour were to run he could bring a formidable
network into play. Barbour is highly regarded for his
work as chairman of the Republican
National Committee during the 1994 cycle and as the current chairman of
Republican Governors Association he raised record amounts >.
undamaged. Barbour has a
folksy appeal and as
a Southerner might fare well in the critical South Carolina primary,
Barbour could come under attack for some
of his lobbying work. In an August 2010 interview >
at the Hoover Institution Barbour said that, "I was a lobbyist and a
d**ed good one... The next president of the United States on
January 21st, 2013 is going to start lobbying. He's going to be
lobbying Congress, he's going to be lobbying other countries, he's
going to be lobbying the business community, he's going to be lobbying
the labor unions and the governors, 'cause that's what Presidents
Barbour is term-limited in 2011.
He did little
activity, although at the beginning of August 2010 he did send out a
letter to Iowa Republicans, as reported by Jonathan Martin of Politico.
Sen. John Thune has kept a
profile in terms of presidential speculation ("My focus right now is
very much on
2010"). He enjoyed the only
uncontested U.S. Senate race of the 2010 cycle. If he does decide
to run he will be able to convert his Senate committee funds, which
stood at $7.1 million >,
Rep. Mike Pence
conservative credentials, even going against his party on a number of
key issues. As he notes, "I opposed No Child Left Behind, I
opposed the Medicare prescription drug bill, I opposed the Wall Street
bailout." Pence describes himself as "a Christian, a conservative
and a Republican, in that order." He serves in the House
Republican leadership as chairman of the Republican Conference.
In September 2010 Pence narrowly won Family Research Council Action's
Values Voter Summit Straw Poll. However, in recent decades the
Representatives has not been a good launching point for White House
bids. Pence was mentioned as a possible candidate for Senate in
2010 and is also seen as a possible candidate for Governor in 2012.
Rep. Ron Paul has a very
loyal following, but has not made his intentions about 2012 known; at
75 years old, his age could be an issue.
Gov. George Pataki
has has visited Iowa four times and New Hampshire three times, and
through his his
America emphasized repeal and replacement of Obamacare. Former
scattered around the country could provide a smattering of support, but
the potential of a Pataki candidacy would appear to be very limited.
Radio talk show host Herman
Cain is giving the notion
of a White House run "prayerful consideration." Cain's story,
from his humble origins
to his leadership of Godfather's Pizza to his recovery from Stage 4
cancer, is compelling.
Gay rights activist Fred Karger offers the possibility of a moderate, pro-choice candidacy that would set him apart from much of the field. In 2010 Karger was the most active of any of the potential candidates, establishing an exploratory committee, and preparing to rent a house in New Hampshire. The prospect of a gay rights activist sharing the stage with social conservative candidates in Republican primary debates could make for some interesting exchanges.
Former UN Ambassador John Bolton
told Townhall's Gary Benson on Oct. 1, 2010 that he is "very seriously"
considering a 2012 White House run.
Real estate magnate Donald Trump told FOX on Oct. 5, 2010 that he is thinking about running for president.
-Gov. Chris Christie (NJ) has been hailed as a "conservative rock star" but has repeatedly and unequivocally ruled out a presidential run; see for example April 27, 2010 remarks.
-Gov. Bobby Jindal (LA) had been mentioned as a potential candidate, but most observers ruled him out following his weak response to President Obama's Feb. 2009 address to a joint session of Congress. Jindal re-emerged on the national stage following the BP oil disaster and he also has a book due out Leadership and Crisis (Regnery, Nov. 15, 2010).
-Gov. Rick Perry
out a 2012 run in an interview that appeared in Newsweek's
issue and in other venues, but his name continues to pop up, and he has
a book due out Fed
Up (Little, Brown, Nov. 15, 2010).
-Former Gov. Jeb
Bush (FL) is seen as a strong
Republican leader but has shown no inclination to run.
(SC), a Tea
Party favorite, attraction notice for his activity supporting
conservative candidates through his Senate Conservatives Fund
leadership PAC, but did not show any interest in a presidential run.
-Sen.-elect Marco Rubio
(FL) was seen as very much a rising star and his successful 2010
campaign attracted national attention and
support, but talk of a 2012 presidential campaign seemed somewhat
-Sen. Scott Brown (MA) ruled out a 2012 run in an April 23, 2010 appearance on NBC's "Today" show.
-Then Gov. Jon
Huntsman (UT) was seen as a possible 2012 candidate
until he accepted President Obama's nomination to be U.S. Ambassador to
-Gen. David Petraeus had been a subject of presidential speculation starting in 2007, but said no, repeatedly, to the idea of running for president. See for example his Aug. 15, 2010 appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press."
-Former Vice President Dick Cheney was subject of a Draft Cheney 2012 effort around the time of CPAC 2010.
-Gov. Mark Sanford (SC) had some support until the scandal over his affair broke in June 2009.
-Sen. John Ensign
(NV) had been seen as looking at
a possible run until
the story of his extramarital affair broke in mid-June 2009.
Finally, two of the House
Republican "Young Guns," Rep. Eric
Cantor and Rep. Paul Ryan
are seen as potential vice presidential picks.