Because it takes 2 years to really run a Presidential campaign, now is about the time you start seeing the candidates for the President of the United States lining up for the next election. For 2012, it means the Republicans have a serious primary to find some poor sucker to run against Barack Obama (being the current incumbent, will only face meager Democratic opposition from grandstanding idiots who think they can either embarrass Obama or God Help Us actually unseat him).
The list is in alphabetic order, and lists their highest or best-known political position (or job title). It is incomplete as there are some who might put their hat in the ring that haven't done so, and there are some who have been named by others (in a "Draftee" way like Chris Christie) but have publicly refused (so far). This is the list that I know wants to run or could consider a run.
Please do not laugh, cry, or scream in terror until the ride is over.
Michelle Bachmann - Congresswoman, Minnesota
Positives: Has a long career in the House as an incumbent. She speaks to the base of the party and energizes them like few other candidates can. Is openly combative and telegenic. Has an advantage over her immediate rival Sarah Palin as the woman candidate - Bachmann never quit halfway through her job the way Palin did.
Negatives: She's batshit crazy. Even if she believes a tenth of the crap she spews out into the media.
Bachmann represents the Teabagger wing of the GOP as the standard bearer and go-to person for Fox-Not-News when they want a wingnut rebuttal to something that Obama (or worse, that Speaker Boehner) has done. And while Bachmann energizes the base of the GOP, she'll scare off every moderate and sane (there are a few left) Republican over to the Democratic ticket.
Chances: To win the primaries? In a prolonged campaign against other, more reasonable-sounding candidates, Bachmann could flake out early and scare off those who would otherwise worship at her crazy ass. But if she wins big in the early wingnut states (which is possible), she becomes the candidate. But the party backers have to know if she wins, the Republicans lose (because the independent and moderate voters would flee to the more reasonable Obama) and could well drag the whole ticket down.
John Bolton - ex-Ambassador to the U.N., Maryland
Positives: Seriously. None.
Negatives: Is one of the better-known figures from the Bush The Lesser administration... known for his neoconservative extremism, back-stabbing interoffice politicking, and ability to offend everyone who's not a Fox-Not-News Talking Head.
Chances: Laughable. If he thinks he can run on a War On Terror ticket, he's not going to get very far.
Jeb Bush - ex-Governor, Florida
Positives: Has his backers within the national party. Is a major player at both the state and national level. Comes from a large state that could swing to Obama in 2012 unless there's a draw on the ticket. He's an experienced campaigner and fund-raiser. He's considered the "smart one" within his circle of power. He's an instantly recognizable figure with a well-known name. He hasn't put that name out there, but still there's a lot of well-known conservative advocates trying to draft him to run in 2012.
Negatives: That well-known name? HE'S A BUSH. He's Dubya's younger brother. And the last thing the Republicans want is a reminder of how the last Bush in the White House - massive deficits, unfunded payouts to pharm companies, two mismanaged wars, weak job creation, two economic scandals, massive government ineptitude handling major hurricane Katrina, and more - performed. The other factor is that while Bush has his supporters in Florida, that support could well be dead and gone by 2012 thanks to a state government run by a Medicare Fraud and by a Republican-led state legislature shredding every ethics reform on the books. The agenda they're pushing is the one Jeb tried to push as governor 5 years earlier. The anti-teacher bills just signed into law, for example, have his fingerprints all over them. It's doubtful by 2012 Jeb could win his own state...
Chances: Jeb is supposed to be the smart one, right? If so, he has to look at the landscape and see that this nation will not stand to see another Bush within our lifetime serving in the White House. The first attack ad from the Democrats will be morphing a photo of Jeb into a photo of Dubya. That's all. And his campaign is over at that point.
Haley Barbour - Governor, Mississippi
Positives: Is a well-known player within the Republican Party and among their financial backers. Has a solid track record of conservativism.
Negatives: Let's not even consider the possibility of the Republicans putting up a white Southern conservative from a Deep South rebel-flag-waving state against an African-American President (well, maybe just that point alone...). Barbour presides over a state (Mississippi) that's practically dead last in a lot of categories - education, health care, job growth, income equality - and so would have to defend a record where he really didn't improve much of anything. There's also a poor record of handling the post-Katrina crisis in his state: a national campaign would flare that all back to the forefront. And this isn't even touching on Barbour's biggest sin: He worked as a lobbyist.
Chances: Compared to other Southern elected officials like Huckabee, Barbour's got no shot past the primaries and people know it. If he does get the nomination through his campaigning efforts, his record compared to Obama's will hurt.
Herman Cain - CEO, Georgia
Positives: Is a player within the Republican Party, especially against the hated Health Care Reform programs.
Negatives: Has no history of elected office. He's best known running a second-tier pizza chain. The current history of CEOs running for office or running government (Dubya, Rick "MEDICARE FRAUD" Scott) is terrifying. And while he's got the extremist political views to entice primary voters, in an open general election he's doomed.
Chances: There is honestly not a lot he brings to a national ticket. He should have considered running at least for Congress to get a political resume going...
Mitch Daniels - Governor, Indiana
Positives: Known among the media elites as "sane" in an increasingly whackjob party. As Governor, pushed for a balanced budget platform that did include some tax increases much to the chagrin of the more tax-cut obsessed crowd. Has some modicum of popularity outside of the GOP. During the current state-level war of GOP Governors against the labor unions, Daniels proposed dropping Indiana's union-killing efforts because "it wasn't what we campaigned on" (I.E., "it's gonna kill us in the polls"), meaning that this guy actually has his eyes open while he's driving (unlike the other Governors who are speeding into a brick wall of recall movements). Daniels does not have his name out there (yet), but there's a Draft movement among the media elites fearful of a Bachmann, Palin, or Other Whackjob Candidate campaign.
Negatives: Worked as the budget guy under the Dubya administration, the stain of which will never wash away. He still prefers cutting state budgets over raising tax revenues, meaning the poor and middle class families aren't going to be too fond of him come 2012.
Chances: He hasn't put his name out there. A good reason is that Daniels, being genuinely sane, knows that the current GOP environment will either kill him in the primaries or else would force him to adopt stances that on a national level would kill him against Obama in 2012. Word is he's smart enough to wait until 2016...
Newt Gingrich - ex-Speaker/Congressman, Georgia
Positives: National figure. Long viewed by the Republican base as one of their big thinkers and policy creators. Can get onto any talking head show for Sundays and get listened to seriously without any criticism.
Negatives: IS A GODDAMN HYPOCRITE. This is a guy twice-divorced who goes up on a platform to preach "Family Values". And the way he divorced - abandoning his first wife in a hospital bed! having an adulterous affair WHILE PURSUING Bill Clinton for his adultery! - each time paints Newt as a disgusting human being. His ambition is so blatant as to be crass: his recent flip-flops on Obama's handling of Libya has already made him a subject of ridicule among the media elites he hangs out with. He's not that well-liked within his own party. And people may remember that he lost his Speakership when his own party turned on him.
Chances: He could get some distance in a primary because he's got a national-level name. But the mudslinging against him will be fierce. If Newt even survives the primaries, Obama's clean-cut persona compared to Newt's will make it Obama's election to win (hell, Obama can recruit Bill Clinton to help campaign for him, and Bill will crush Newt before lunchtime).
Mike Huckabee - ex-Governor, Arkansas
Positives: was the Dark Horse candidate from 2008 whose campaigning will still have its followers. Has a decent governing record (with a few glaring negatives...). Has a charisma few other candidates have in this primary. Can appeal to the social conservatism of the wingnut base without scaring off moderate and independent voters (that much). Unlike Barbour, Huckabee is a Southern governor who could campaign against an African-American President and not make it look like a Civil Rights struggle from the Sixties all over again. Plays well with the media elites he needs to kiss up to if he gets the nomination. Of the candidates currently polling, Huckabee is consistently the only one to ever show that he could beat Obama.
Negatives: During his governorship, he played loose with the paroling process by freeing certain individuals who went on to commit further crimes of rape and murder (the criminals plead Christian conversion or that they were victims of Clinton conspiracies). If Dukakis was ruined by Willie Horton, Huckabee is doomed if Maurice Clemmons becomes more of a household name. Huckabee's other problem with his governorship is that he preached fiscal balance with tax hikes alongside spending cuts: something the Club For Greed and Grover Norquist have never forgiven him for. Huckabee's current job - as Talking Head on Fox-Not-News - is a big negative for those who hate Fox with a passion (and that number is growing).
Chances: Once Huckabee puts his name out there (he's still working for Fox, which is a conflict of interest right now), he's a front-runner. His past history of getting primary wins in the South and other conservative states will draw back his supporters and include new ones (most likely the ones in 2008 who backed McCain) and make him a reliable pick for the party leadership.
Gary Johnson - ex-Governor, New Mexico
Positives: He's one of those little-known elected officials who got things done and has a great resume. Was a low-tax libertarian who walked the walk, slashing thousands of spending projects even from Republican legislators, and left office with a state surplus and a honest rep.
Negatives: He's one of those little-known elected officials who got things done and thus no one thinks he has a snowball's chance in hell. Because getting those things done meant compromise or working against your party's self-serving interests. There's always a guy like this in each primary. It's sad but true. Is also a major marijuana decriminalization advocate, something the anti-drug crowds in the conservative base doesn't agree with. His libertarian positions may work at the state level, but his budget-slashing habits at the federal level might not work (esp. because the President does not have line-item veto powers to cut specific spending projects, and esp. because the U.S. Congress is NEVER serious even under Republican rule to rein in spending). If Johnson is serious about budget deficits, he's going to have to address defense spending (our biggest source of spending... AND waste)... and THAT would put him in opposition to the pro-war crowd. Johnson is also coming from a sparsely populated state with little political influence on the national stage.
Chances: Very low. The Republican base - the Teabaggers - may talk about wanting to cut spending to cut deficits, but they are actually terrified of someone who could actually DO it. Just remember, the Teabagger crowd over the last two years has been genuinely inconsistent about financial issues (they're more consistent on the Social issues like abortion, abortion, and abortion). Someone who could actually do something about the budget is the LAST guy they really want...
Roy Moore - ex-Judge, Alabama
Positives: Absolutely none.
Negatives: Was infamously impeached from the Alabama Supreme Court for his obsession over putting a 50-ton Ten Commandments paperweight in front of every government building ON THE PLANET. Even when he ran for elected office in the state (Governor), he lost by ridiculous numbers. He can't even win his own state! Moore's political position is for a religious conservatism that can even rankle his fellow social conservatives within the GOP. And the party has to know that a guy like that on the national stage is going to scare every moderate and indy voter to the Democrats in a heartbeat.
Chances: Absolutely none at all. He's doing this for the ego, not the Commandments.
Sarah Palin - ex-Mayor, Alaska (I refuse to list her as ex-Governor because she DIDN'T FINISH THE JOB)
Positives: Is one of the biggest names on the national stage. Has a devoted fanbase that will back her no matter what.
Negatives: Is one of the most polarizing political figures in American history. Her unfavorable numbers keep going UP while her popularity goes down. She is currently in no position to impress anybody: either you love her or you HATE her. And in this political environment, you can only lose those who love you: no one who HATES you tends to change their minds... And nearly everyone has an opinion on her now. There are few Undecideds left.
Her track record as an elected official is poor at best. Any reputation she had as a "reformer" went away once people took a good look and found she only ran against the Establishment because that Establishment didn't give her the jobs she wanted. And because she QUIT her governorship before she was even halfway finished with the term, her most complete accomplishment is pretty much her term as Mayor of a small town in Alaska: it's like asking the nation to make the Mayor of Yeehaw Junction the next Leader of the Free World. :shudder:
Palin does not impress as an intellectual at any level. Each interview she gave as a Veep candidate - even with easy-toss questioners - made her look unprepared and ignorant. She now revels in being pridefully ignorant, as though that's a way of sticking it to the Establishment she so desperately wants to lead. And while American voters may recognize political leaders that aren't brainiacs, they at least know their President has to be eloquent and convincing on the global stage: that takes some level of smarts, and Palin doesn't demonstrate that. Ever.
The polling numbers show Obama trouncing Palin by wide margins.
Chances: Maybe back in 2009 she looked like a winner to her fanbase - which included a ton of Talking Heads who were dazzled by her - but in the harsh light of the oncoming election year even her original fanboys are fleeing. Compared to more sensible candidates like Huckabee, Palin has no chance. Even compared to the candidates appealing to her wingnut base - Bachmann, Gingrich in particular - Palin is an unserious choice.
Ron Paul - Congressman, Texas
Positives: Has a huge fanbase among the libertarian wing of the Republicans, especially the Teabaggers who are serious about fiscal matters. Can re-ignite the passions voters had for him back in 2008. Is as anti-Establishment a candidate as you'll get among Republicans that can turn out a crowd and argue effectively for his cause. Is one of the few candidates to argue consistently about out-of-control spending and government size.
Negatives: Dear God. His economic policy (switching back to Gold standards when the rest of the world won't, for example) may look great on paper but could cause such a shock that the entire global economy could crash.
Chances: Still slim. His base isn't big enough to swamp enough primaries to win. The party leadership doesn't like him at all. And not everyone is a libertarian goddammit, no matter how much the libertarians try to convince everyone otherwise.
Tim Pawlenty - ex-Governor, Minnesota
Positives: One of the few Republican governors of recent times to be relatively popular. Has a solid if unspectacular resume. Ran on a consistently conservative platform. The media elites consider him a viable candidate.
Negatives: One thing trumps all: the collapse of the I-35 bridge. The controversy over that tragedy highlighted the problems of a Republican-led state government that was failing to repair and maintain public roads and bridges. All the Democrats have to do is flash that YouTube of it collapsing and Pawlenty's done.
Past that, Pawlenty is notoriously uncharismatic. His record as Minnesota governor may have been consistent but not that impressive.
Chances: Pawlently is currently the front-runner but only because the other big names haven't officially started. Once the actual campaign gets going, Pawlenty has a huge uphill climb. It's doubtful he can impress enough base voters in other states to side with him.
Buddy Roemer - ex-Governor, Louisiana
Mitt Romney - ex-Governor, Massachusetts
Positives: Solid track record as a state Governor. Has major backing within the party at the national level. Can campaign well. Has some charisma.
Negatives: He was the front-runner going into the 2008 election... and lost to McCain. With all the positives he had in 2008, he still lost.
That was because Romney's ambition is so naked it's at Newt/Hilary levels. He flip-flops at a heartbeat to whatever he thinks the base voters support. His biggest success as governor - passage of a state health care program that you know actually works - is a success Romney refuses to acknowledge because Obama and the Democrats used that program to model their national HCR bill. And anything Obama supports, the Teabaggers HATE. And Romney needs those Teabagger votes.
The other thing hurting him is what hurt him most last time: his religion. As a Mormon he may be as socially conservative and family-oriented as the social/religious conservatives, but they don't view his religion favorably (Far Right Christians view Mormonism as a cult). Even his speech to pave over his religious views as equal to other Christians didn't help (it hurt that Obama had to speak about his religious positions as well during the Rev. Wright scandal and did a better job of it). The odds are not good that Romney can win primaries in the Deep South or Appalachian regions.
Chances: If Romney couldn't win over voters in 2008 when it was his primary to lose, how the hell is he going to convince those same voters in 2012? The only slim chance he has now is that more voters may consider him the safest choice among the whackjobs filling the primaries... but that's what Huckabee is going to do too, and in 2008 Huckabee still did better than Romney.
Donald Trump - Celebrity, New York
Positives: He's good for a laugh, innit he?
Negatives: He's clearly hogging for the spotlight. His political positions are non-existent, and his going after Obama for his birth certificate quickly made Trump a national laughingstock.
Chances: He's angling for a reality TV show. Again.
There's your list of madmen and madwomen for the GOP 2012.
Seriously? It's Huckabee's to lose: he's gotten voters before, and he's had 4 more years to impress the base that he's acceptable. Given that Huck has the polling numbers to show he has support among general voters, the savvier wingnuts will back him. Romney is the fall-back option at this point. Any of the others may be amusing at first, but the seriousness of how disastrous their campaigns could be ought to eliminate them from the primaries well before the circus rolls into South Carolina.
And if a Republican wins the Presidency in 2012? At this point, the only way to win is a massive collapse of support for Obama, which creates the odds of a GOP House winning even more seats. And possibly the Senate switching to GOP as well. That would mean the Republicans would regain tight control of all three branches of government again. If that thought doesn't scare enough moderates to vote Democrat, and if that thought doesn't get enough Democrats to get out the damn vote in 2012, then we ARE WELL AND TRULY SCREWED as a nation.
Don't vote Republican. Republicans lie. Republicans deceive. Republicans hate.
Just. Don't. Vote. Republican. This is your 192nd Warning.