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The 2008 Republican Nomination for President

Tod Lindberg at The Washington Times wrote a piece with a look towards the 2008 Presidential election, specifically focusing on the possible Republican nominee. It's a good article, and worth reading, but it strikes me as short-sighted, missing a few lessons from History. And so I find myself taking a shot at the crystal ball of party leader decision.

Lindberg looked basically at who is popular now, more than 2 years out from the election. That is not really an accurate look. While he quickly became the front-runner, George W. Bush did not announce his candidacy until 1999. And does the name Paul Tsongas ring a bell? After G.H.W. Bush hit 90%+ approval ratings after the first Gulf war, only Tsongas declared he would run against him. Bill Clinton did not join the race until October of 1991. In fact, many successful campaigners come into the fray late, and for good reason; a campaign is expensive and a long exposure gives opponents, both in your own and in the other party, a long time to dig up anything about you they can attack. So, to be blunt, anyone who is a front-runner right now probably won't be around when the real race begins.

Here's my take on Lindberg's pack:

John McCain has no chance to become President of the United States. None. First off, anyone experienced in election politics knows that Senators do not do well in Presidential contests, especially when running against non-Senators. Kerry, Dole, Dukakis, Mondale, and so on all broadcast the same message in the way they act and speak, and it shows up in the voting. And McCain has already blown out in primaries before, and not just because he was running against Dubya. But there's more. Any national contest means you need connections and alliances. That's another reason why newbies do well in their POTUS run, because they haven't burned their bridges yet. McCain has put knives in the backs of lots of people, and so he won't get their help when he needs it. McCain can win in the East and in Arizona, but he's far too divisive to build the kind of momentum he needs to hope for the party nod.

Rudy? Hey, I love Giuliani, even if he is pro-Choice and a N'Yawker. But like McCain, he's been on the shelf long enough to make lots of friends, but also shove a few folks away. Yes, he can win New York, but probably does not have the staying power for a long campaign on the national scale. Call him a 'maybe', but not my idea of a front-runner. Too many questions on how he'd handle Foreign Policy, Taxes, Immigration, the things we already know will be on a lot of voters minds in 2008.

What about Romney? It's wrong to think that folks are all that worried about a Mormon becoming President - I don't see that it will matter if he can get past his real anchor - he's from Massachusetts, but is a Republican. He's everything the Democrats hate, so he may not even carry his home state, normally the kiss of death for a national contender, and Republicans are not all that excited by Romney, mostly because he has not been around the 'Red Meat' Republicans that usually do well in elections. I'd lock Romney in a room with a bunch of Reagan speeches, along with the ones which Dubs did well. I'd even throw in a few of the G.H.W. Bush speeches from his 1980 and 1988 campaigns - if "Poppy" Bush can sound manly by studying 'Red Meat' speechifying, then Romney could do well to learn it. As it is, he stands out kind of like Kerry at a NASCAR event. And it just makes sense to be as un-Kerry-like as possible.

So, if it's not the present gaggle of wannabe's, who will get the GOP nod? I can't say for sure right now, since it comes down to three keys, but I can tell you what those keys are and where to look for them:

[] Talk the Talk. I just noted that there's a 'Core Republican' way of making speeches and explaining your policies. The Democrats never figured it out, and a lot of Republicans are clueless, too. It showed up in Reagan's 'Shining City on a Hill' speech, and again when Bush extemporized on the rubble at Ground Zero. It's when a Republican shows real emotion, the kind of ideal shining through that most of us want in a leader, with a zeal for Justice and a love of America that is a lot deeper than the veneer politicos usually paint on for show. It's what we all are, only more so. Make bold promises, and dare to cheer for the Right.

[] Be national. The race to the White House means claiming at least 270 Electoral Votes. Polarized or regional candidates won't make it in the marathon of the Primaries, and as Howard "Scream" Dean found out, a loud name and a big warchest can't overcome fundamental flaws. The ideal candidate will either be a Governor, preferably from the South or West, or the candidate will be someone widely respected at the national level.

[] Act Like You Already Are The President. You'd be amazed how often perception is framed by the image most often projected by the candidate. A small ego in the package of a clearly confident competitor is a big plus.

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Comments (20)

Good article, DJ. The map ... (Below threshold)

Good article, DJ. The map will be totally different one year from now.

It'll be George Allen. He's... (Below threshold)
The Exposer:

It'll be George Allen. He's the only one with both Gubernatorial and Senatorial experience and isn't considered too "fringe-y."

Regarding McCain, you left out one very important thing... well, two... and that is he clearly has anger management issues, but also has been showing signs of senility in the past decade.

People have been ignoring the fact that McCain is NOT a young man or even middle-aged. He's older than Reagan was when he ran in 1980, and will be almost 73 in his first year in office. Of course, Bob Dole was the same age, but he wasn't a nut or senile, and didn't explode at the drop of a hat.

The map may be different in... (Below threshold)

The map may be different in a year from now . . . but I'll bet Mitt Romney will still be on it!

Giuliani is the only one th... (Below threshold)

Giuliani is the only one that excites the wife and I and this is coming from die-hard conservatives who grew up as Democrats and switched to the GOP, thanks to Jimmy Carter for me and my wife switched after some coaxing from me. Now she is more conservative than me.

Allen cannot win in our opinion.

I'm a N'Yawker by residence... (Below threshold)

I'm a N'Yawker by residence , although I grew up in the Maryland suburbs of DC. I think that Giuliani has to face some issues pre-emptively. First and foremost, all of the court-sealed mess from his divorces will become public. If he doesn't face up to this, then some reporter from the liberal media will find a friendly judge who will unseal the documents and thereby Giuliani will lose control of the info flow. He must also think about how he will afford his alimony payments as they are substantial and may eat up almost all of Presidential pay. Lastly, he has baggage from the Kerik corruption case and from the reports alleging that Giuliani's own father was a small-time criminal.

I think that Giuliani should run for Governor or Senator; I do not think that he would win the primaries. However, if he runs, let the Republican rank and file decide.


Excellent post, DJ.<p... (Below threshold)

Excellent post, DJ.

Just one question. Where did the knock on Romney's speechifying come from? Most people who listen to him for the first time are blown away. Comparisons to Reagan are very common. So where exactly do you suggest he improve?

George Allen will be the no... (Below threshold)
Chris M.:

George Allen will be the nominee and President. Definitely in the mold of the great RWR and GWB. Here's one former Marine who will never support McCain and think Hagel is the biggest horses butt in the party. George Allen is a true conservative and will rally conservatives to victory. Heck he might even win the People's Republic of Maryland. I'm looking for Steele and Ehrlich wins this fall.

I also think it going to be... (Below threshold)
Sharon R.:

I also think it going to be George Allen. He is an ex -governor,current senator so from an experience standpoint he has the executive experience as well as the foreign policy background. He is also very good looking and comes across well on TV(which is how Clinton got elected). He also has name recognition because of his father with the nascar guys in fact he's probably the only potential candidate who could look at home in that setting. He's from the south, but not too far south....I don't understand why more people aren't touting his candidacy.

Romney has demonstrated qui... (Below threshold)
James Tripp:

Romney has demonstrated quite a bit of political savvy in his handling of the governor's role in Massachusetts. He and Frist are the two real candidates. For different reasons, both have vast networks throughout the US. People around them who are making sure that those networks stay in good shape. Both Romney and Frist need to address the energy issue soon. In reality this will not be until after the '06 elections.

Romney has demonstrated qui... (Below threshold)
James Tripp:

Romney has demonstrated quite a bit of political savvy in his handling of the governor's role in Massachusetts. He and Frist are the two real candidates. For different reasons, both have vast networks throughout the US. People around them who are making sure that those networks stay in good shape. Both Romney and Frist need to address the energy issue soon. In reality this will not be until after the '06 elections.

Just for fun, let's look at... (Below threshold)

Just for fun, let's look at the sitting Senators who ran for their party's nomination in the last half century. We all know that Kennedy was the only one to win the White House, but it's amazing how many tried. This is off the top of my head, so it's entirely possible I've forgotten a few. * means they won the nomination. Several tried multiple times.

A. Stevenson*, J. Kennnedy *, Humphrey {won nomination as sitting VP, lost twice as Sen.}, Kefauver, Bob Taft, Goldwater*, McCarthy, R. Kennedy, Muskie, McGovern*, H. Jackson, Mondale, Harkin, H. Baker, B. Dole* {won once, lost twice}, T. Kennedy, Cranston, Glenn, Hollings, Hart, Biden, Gore, P. Simon, R. Kerrey, P. Gramm, Lugar, Hatch, McCain, Kerry*, Edwards, B. Graham, Lieberman.

Not counting the multiple runs - Dole and Harkin each ran three times as a sitting Senator, Hart and Humphrey twice - 32 sitting Senators have run for President at least once in the thirteen elections beginning with 1956. Of those, only six have won their party's nomination.

These guys just never get the message, do they?

Ditto the above commenters ... (Below threshold)

Ditto the above commenters who say it'll be George Allen. I'll put money on it right now. I've been saying it since before Bush was re-elected, in fact.

The only question is who he will pick for VP, and I think he'd pick an absolutely stellar running-mate--not the usual tired, predictable pick. (Maybe Condi? It's looking less likely, lately.) And none of the likely candidates can beat him in the South, period. Not even Frist, who doesn't excite anyone. Gingrich could (maybe), but it would be a huge mistake for him to run--way too much baggage, despite his politics/ideology. (Please, don't nominate Gingrich--we'll get killed.)

Allen is a sitting Senator, but he has been Governor of Virginia--and he did well there. He's a Senator because of VA's gubernatorial term limits.

And Sharon R. is right--he's telegenic, and whether you like it or not, everyone knows that matters these days. He's got the "who'd you rather drink a beer with" thing, and that matters even more--he's LIKEABLE. Not one of the Dems are even remotely "likeable," and most of the other likely GOP candidates aren't either. That can make the final difference with swing voters, and their votes win elections.

Romney's problem is Massach... (Below threshold)
C-141 Crew Dog:

Romney's problem is Massachusetts -- the Big Dig will hang on his neck because he is the governor. He is the chief executive that presided over that train wreck, even if he had very limited authority to do anything about it. The Democrats will be sure to link all the negative Big Dig news to Romney.

According to the polls and ... (Below threshold)

According to the polls and in my view Rudy is the front runner to win the republican primary and presidency. I don't believe the nation has seen such a dominating political figure as Rudy since Eisenhower. Though he was before my time, as I understand it the nation knew it wanted Eisenhower as president because of how he managed WWII. The question at the time was which party he would choose, not whether he would win. Similarly, Rudy is the front runner because the nation is familiar with his success in managing and transforming NYC and his handling of 9/11. He is uniquely appealing to a very wide part of the electorate. The democrats fear him the most because they know if he runs he will win, and with the coattails to help all republicans.

I think the three horsemen ... (Below threshold)

I think the three horsemen will be romney, frist, and allen. I think Romney will be the VP candidate (with Elrich or Gov. from MN being second choice). I think it comes down to Frist and Allen. Allen because he will get the conservative vote (mine) and Frist because he will have 2 or 3 times the amount of money to spend then any other candidate. Lets not forget that Frist was in charge of getting all those senators elected last year and has the best networking group and the best PAC right now from any republican candidate in the VOL PAC. Also, Frist has the medical community behind him and his Brother will collect about 1.2 billion from the sale of HCA Hospitals doesn't hurt his chances.

Since it's politically almo... (Below threshold)

Since it's politically almost an eternity to 2008, I would say George Allen is the best guy for the job...for now. I don't think Romney nor Giuliani have a chance due to the problems listed above.

That being said, if Allen does decide to throw his hat into the POTUS ring, the MSM will have a field day with the reports of fondness of the Confederate Flag, his suspension in high school, his sister's book, and they're already painting him with the old "low intelligence" brush.

He'll most likely wait as long as he can to join the race so he doesn't have to deal with the speculations about these issues for too long.

George Allen is boring...Mi... (Below threshold)

George Allen is boring...Mitt Romney is fresh...and I'm guessing Gov. Haley Barber (did I spell that right?) from Mississippi will emerge as the frontrunner. He's a straight talker, he knows how to lead, and he has some backbone.

I like Barber too.... he's ... (Below threshold)

I like Barber too.... he's handled the ignored Mississippi end of the Katrina mess with aplomb and spoke as a real leader in the immeidate aftermath, shirtsleeves rolled up and ready to work.

I think that the only Dem to understand the "talk the talk" DJ mentions is JFK. His speeches were incredibly inspiring to a generation. My mom still talks of how much she loved to hear him speak to the nation. Unfortunately for today's Democrats, no one seems to understand the appeal of a leader speaking with pride about the goodness of our country. It will hang them nationally year after year.

Not excited by the list. D... (Below threshold)

Not excited by the list. Darn shame because Republicans sometimes run a likable candidate that stands for all the right things but does not have a snowball chance of winning.

Unless someone new emerges, I agree with what I read from the Anchoress on this subject. She goes though the arguments and her candidate is Giuliani. I agree. Think her winning ticket was Giuliani/Rice.

He cleaned up NY and can exhibit a spine. He has a national face and name. His main selling point after 'security' though is the fact that the man has 'presence'. The other candidates do not. I do NOT want a Democrat to take control of the troops and the wars that are coming.

I like Rudy. Great presenc... (Below threshold)

I like Rudy. Great presence, leadership, top of mind awareness, etc. I think he'd make a good president. I also like George Allen and think he has a real shot. He is another "cowboy" (at least, he wears the boots) so how things shake out in the next 2 years will determine whether that will help or hurt him. It would be interesting if it come down to the two former Virginia Governors -- Allen and Mark Warner (D). But that Rudy - I just don't think we can count him out. He strikes me as a fighter, and stronger than Allen (or any of the other Republicans on today's list) in that regard.







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