This post is part of my “2012 Presidential Election” series. Click here to see more in the series.
In order of their current likelihood that they’ll end up the Republican nominee, here is my list of potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates:
Sarah Palin - former governor of Alaska, former vice presidential candidate – by far the most interesting Republican possibility (at least as judged by how many times they’re mentioned online), Sarah Palin has the greatest chance of becoming the Republican nominee. She has been the governor of a state, she’s been bolstering her visibility for the last two years, and she’s been boning up on policy in her position at Fox News and in speeches around the country (and was most recently made fun of for mixing up North and South Korea on Glenn Beck’s radio show). The things that she has to deal with, though, include incredibly high unfavorable ratings among the public (though not as high as President Obama’s), and the overall view among Democrats and some Republicans that she’s a pretty, empty shell.
Mitt Romney – former Governor of Massachusetts – Mr. Romney is still among the top-tier contenders for the Republican nomination, and he’d make a pretty good candidate. He’s well-spoken (and would give President Obama a run for his money in that area), he’s intelligent, he’s run large organizations, and he was a fairly successsful governor. However, he also has to deal with a negative image. He’s a Morman, which is unsettling to a lot of Christians. He also has the negative stigma of passing an ObamaCare-like healthcare bill in Massachusetts, which has not been successful.
Newt Gingrich - former Speaker of the House – a former Congressman from Georgia, Gingrich is a man of ideas, but he has a brusque personality that can turn people off. He masterminded the 1994 “Republican Revolution,” that ended 40 years of Democratic rule in the House of Representatives, and gained 54 seats in the House. He also guided welfare reform through Congress (as one of the tenets of the “Contract With America”). He has personal problems, however, including several divorces.
Bobby Jindal – Governor of Louisiana – Jindal was a member of the U.S. House, and then won a four-way race for governor in Louisiana by 54%. He has a magnetic personality, and is currently the youngest governor in the U.S. Like Newt Gingrich, he is an “idea man,” but doesn’t have the same personal baggage as Gingrich. He’s young, however, and would need to run for re-election as governor in the same year that he would be needing to run for president, which makes him unlikely to run in 2012.
Chris Christie - Governor of New Jersey – the Governor of New Jersey is a charismatic speaker, and a get-to-the-point leader. He’s gained internet fame for vigourously slapping down the New Jersey legislature, and being very blunt to people in townhall meetings. In one memorable video, a teacher complained that teacher’s weren’t paid enough, and he said that she knew what she was getting in to when she signed up. Governor Christie, however, has said that there is NO WAY that he’s going to run in 2012. We’ll see how THAT works out. Among his weaknesses are his bluntness (he’ll say a lot of things that could alienate certain voters) and his morbid obesity (who wants a fat president, other than those who voted for President “Big Bill” Taft?).
Mitch Daniels - Governor of Indiana – Daniels has been a very pragmatic governor of Indiana, and has garnered support because he has done well by his state. In his first term as governor, however, he supported tax increases as a way to balance the budget (along with budget cuts and privatization), so this may scare off some Republican voters. He was re-elected because he supported a constitutional limit on property taxes.
Tim Pawlenty - Governor of Minnesota – Pawlenty is a two-term governor of Minnesota, but did not run for re-election in 2010, fueling rumors that he’s planning a 2012 presidential bid. He was elected in 2002 on a platform of not raising taxes, and he followed through on that promise (kind of) by not raising taxes, but raising some state fees. He’s likely to face opposition on this point if he does decide to run in 2012.
Mike Huckabee - former Governor of Arkasas – Mike Huckabee ran for president in 2008 after being the Governor of Arkansas, but eventually lost to John McCain. He has a folksy tone, and many conservatives adored him. Since his 2008 run, he’s raised his profile by becoming a Fox News contributor, among other things. Should he decide to run in 2012, he would likely start where he started in 2008–a second-tier candidate. He would be outshone by Palin, Romney, and Gingrich, which would be a huge handicap.
Rick Perry - Governor of Texas – re-elected to his third and last four-year term in November, Rick Perry has been the longest Texas governor, and is widely popular in the state (he won with 55% of the vote). He is a fiscal conservative, and has campaigned on tax reform and job growth. He has presided over a state for the last ten years that has increased its population so much that they will likely get four new congressional seats in the next legislature due to the census, and that has to be due to something good.
Haley Barbour - Governor of Mississippi – Barbour was elected only the second Republican governor of Mississippi since Reconstruction, with 53% of the vote, in 2003, and was re-elected in 2007. As a former lobbyist, he was able to win over a Democrat-led legislature to cut a $709 million deficit in half in a program he called Operation: Streamline. He is also strongly conservative, working with Republicans and conservative Democrats to tighten abortion laws in Mississippi. He could come from dark horse status and gain the Republican nomination.
Paul Ryan - Congressman from Wisconsin – widely known in small conservative circles for his “Roadmap for America’s Future.” Aside from having piercing blue eyes, he also stood up during a healthcare summit last year (in this video) and provided what some would consider convincing evidence against the healthcare “reform” bill, which the White House promptly ignored. A stellar speaker, he would have to contend with being an unknown, and is not likely to run in 2012.
Mike Pence - Congressman from Indiana – he ran the House Republican Conference since 2008, and he’s been a conservative darling. However, he would have to run as an unknown (has anyone ever heard of Mike Pence?), and he would have to run as a member of the U.S. House. Do you know how many House members have become President? Does anyone remember Dick Gephardt?
Rolland Burris - former Senator from Illinois – never underestimate the ego of this former appointed Senator from Illinois. He was the only person that was willing to be appointed by convicted former governor Rod Blagojevich, so I don’t think he’d have a problem switching parties to run for President. Also, he probably believes in his addled mind that he could be elected if he ran as a Republican.
Can you think of any others that should be added to this list? Which of these would you vote for? Which of these candidates can beat President Obama?