Republican candidates for the presidency can agree on little when dealing with policy issues. They know Obama must not be re-elected. Or apparently the world will be turned upon its head. However, which one of these characters will throw down with Obama November 2012?
Key question of the moment: Who leads the pack of GOP hopefuls? To ask that question is to answer it. No one candidate seems to have emerged at this point. Polling has shown multiple candidates leading at some point over the last four months. Though the official number of Republican candidates is over 10, we are sticking to covering the top five. Here we are, handicapping the field!
Michele Bachmann – The lovely Minnesota Congresswoman has the presidential look and this summer, The Society ran a post discussion whether Bachmann should be portrayed as ‘contender’ or ‘clown.’ The hope was Bachmann would bring substance with her style. On that point, she has failed miserably. Her performances in the debate have been dismal, from her lack of a coherent economic plan to her odd rant about ‘being there’ for the mothers of the nation. And as sexist as this may seem, any woman who wants to win the presidency will have to be far more astute and experienced in foreign affairs than any male competitors. Conclusion: clown.
Odds of winning the nomination: 1,000 to 1
Odds of beating Obama: 1,000,000 to 1
Rick Perry – As governor of Texas for the last decade, one would presume this man knows how to handle political rivals. Again, this presumption couldn’t be any further from the truth. Perry’s plan for the economy lacks detail, his immigration policies seem to run counter to GOP principles, and when thrust into the spotlight, he fumbled the ball.
Perry bluntly accused Mitt Romney of hiring illegal immigrants (prompting a near fistfight), stumbled his way through what appeared to be a drunken rant in New Hampshire, and in what might be the defining point of his campaign, failed to name the three executive departments he believed should be eliminated from the federal government. Perry has tried to spin his faults by saying he never claimed to be an eloquent speaker, but thanks to him, Saturday Night Live doesn’t even need to write scripts anymore. His campaign peaked when he decided to run – it’s been all downhill since.
Odds of winning the nomination: 50 to 1
Odds of beating Obama: 100 to 1
Newt Gingrich – The former Speaker of the House probably took the slowest start out of the gates of any candidate ever. To be tech savvy, Gingrich set out to announce his candidacy via the Internet, only to provide the plainest, most ordinary video ever. To further complicate matters, several of his key staffers quit within a month of his announced run, citing his lack of commitment.
However, Gingrich’s polling numbers have been steadily climbing because of his performances in the GOP debates. He appears to be one of the few candidates who can truly respond to questions and issues without delivering ten minutes worth of gibberish that means nothing. Gingrich is intelligent, witty, and has meaningful political experience at the federal level. His many assets are only rivaled by his liabilities.
Gingrich’s smarmy attitude rubs most Americans the wrong way and his political past looms. After hounding former President Bill Clinton for his infidelity, it was discovered that Gingrich himself also had an extramarital affair. Don’t think those wouldn’t be brought to light by the Obama camp if Gingrich won his party’s nomination.
Odds of winning the nomination: 7 to 1
Odds of beating Obama: 20 to 1
Ron Paul – I admire this Texan doctor’s consistency and willingness to confront the nation with unconventional ideas. Paul has a loyal following who consistently works to raise money and awareness for their candidate. He has consistently touted his plan to vigorously scale back the level of federal government and reduce the American military presence overseas. These ideas resonate well with many Americans who believe the national government intrudes into their lives far more deeply than ever intended.
Paul has strong poll numbers thus far, but his policy positions that score points with his supporters are so far out of the mainstream, I don’t believe most Americans would take a chance voting for him. Paul will also experience trouble attempting the conservative branch of the Republican Party to latch onto his ‘dove-like’ foreign policy.
Odds of winning the nomination: 10 to 1
Odds of beating Obama: 30 to 1
Herman Cain – The ‘Cain Train’ keeps chugging along despite serious obstacles. When Cain first announced he was running for president, he was dismissed as having no chance. Political pundits snickered at his previous job as CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, but Cain has closed the gap with his competitors and capitalized on his status as a ‘Washington Outsider’. Though still polling well, Cain’s campaign might be running out of track.
Cain has been accused by multiple women of sexual harassment, which he vehemently denies. Those accusations pale in comparison to Cain’s inability to handle foreign policy questions. Recently, he took a nearly minute pause to consider a question pertaining to President Obama’s handling of Libyan Revolution. His explanation for his loss of words? He shouldn’t be expected to know about foreign policy. Cain also erred when stating he believed China to be a threat because of their pursuit of nuclear weapons – which China developed in 1964.
Give Cain credit for forcing other candidates to create more in depth plans on the economy after he issued his ‘9-9-9’ plain, but it isn’t enough.
Odds of winning the nomination: 9 to 1 … and fading fast.
Odds of beating Obama: 50 to 1
Mitt Romney – The Stormin’ Mormon has been running for president since 2008. His poor showing four years ago might have taught him a few lessons. Romney has a complicated economic plan and appeals to enough moderates where he could conceivably oust Obama. He hasn’t made any major missteps in his campaign and the debate performances have been solid.
Romney successfully deflected accusations of being ‘Obama Lite’ for his health care work while governor of Massachusetts. He also opted to take the high road when baited by the media over his religion and others addressing Mormonism as a cult.
The main problem with Romney is that he seems to be the GOP winner by default. He’s playing the campaign not to lose, instead of working to win it. Voters support Romney not because he’s a great candidate, but because he’s the only one who doesn’t have a noticeable flaw or major mistake in the campaign. Regardless, it’s his race to lose.
Odds of winning the nomination: 2 to 1
Odds of beating Obama: 7 to 1
Overall assessment: I’m still shocked the GOP has had four years to plot their return to the White House and this group of candidates is the best they can field. President Obama isn’t invincible, but which among these Republicans could realistically defeat him?
Say what you wish about Obama, but his ability to debate and run a campaign will expose the GOP candidates for what they are – second rate.