Ranking The Field: The Republican Candidates For President In 2012

It’s almost that time again. Slowly but surely 2012 is less than a year away and already Republicans are positioning themselves to run against Obama for that chair in the Oval Office. That means that its also time to rank the field. Who has the greatest chance to win the primary? And after that, who has the greatest chance to actually beat President Obama? The final question to answer is… Would any of them be a good president? Although many of them have yet to announce that they are running, it’s a good bet that many on this list are going to do so soon. Its time to examine and rank the field.

Let’s start with Newt Gingrich. As a former Speaker of the House, Gingrich still carries plenty of support, mostly in the south. But Gingrich has a history, and it’s not a helpful one. First of all, Newt Gingrich is blamed for shutting the government down in 1995 and many Americans viewed him as a child throwing a temper tantrum. He then led a petty attempt to impeach then-President Clinton for his affair with Monica Lewinsky, even though Gingrich himself was carrying on affairs of his own. Something else that Gingrich has going against him is his belief in family values. Gingrich is anything but the poster boy for family values. He has carried on affairs with multiple women throughout his multiple marriages and has been accused of being a dead beat dad when the courts had to force him to pay utility bills to keep the electricity running for his children. Newt pressed his first wife to sign divorce papers while she was still in the hospital recovering from cancer surgery. He also said that “She isn’t young enough or pretty enough to be the President’s wife.” A draft dodger during the Vietnam War, Gingrich has been critical of President Obama and his handling of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Newt was also involved in a banking scandal while in office in which he bounced 22 checks. The man who wanted fiscal responsibility was fiscally irresponsible himself. On the issues, Gingrich is a typical Republican. He supports increased drilling for oil. He despises labor unions. And he believes in a 12.5 percent tax rate for corporations which would slash the current rate by about 23 percent. Overall, Gingrich could very well win Republican primaries in the South, but his criticism of President Obama and his association with extreme right wing positions will hurt him among minorities. His hypocritical stance on family values will also damage him among women and may drive the religious right to reject him. Gingrich cannot win the nomination but he has a better chance than some others in the field. If he did somehow secure the nomination, Obama would easily defeat him. Gingrich has what it takes to win in the South, but the North and West would vote against him, and the Midwest would be divided. He simply has too much baggage. And besides, who would want a president named Newt anyway?
Next up, we have former Governor of Minnesota Tim Pawlenty. Pawlenty has proven that he can work with Democrats but that was only after a government shut down that cost the taxpayers money. He made great strides in slashing Minnesota’s budget and strongly supports investing in education. But although he slashed the budget, he did so by cutting Medicaid, which kept people from getting the care they need. I consider Pawlenty to be a dark horse candidate that is relatively unknown to Americans outside of Minnesota. And that could be a bad thing. Although Pawlenty managed to cut the budget, he managed to leave his state with a 4.4 billion dollar budget shortfall and after he declined to run for a third term, the people of Minnesota promptly elected a Democrat to replace him. Hardly a ringing endorsement of Republican policies. Pawlenty does practice the family values that he preaches but he has publicly declared solidarity with the Family Research Council, a Christian Right Wing hate group. As I stated before, Pawlenty supports strong education and is a proponent of clean energy, but Pawlenty doesn’t stand a chance against President Obama. He may fair well in the primary but his calls to cut Social Security and Medicare will alienate most senior citizens. And his recent calls to reinstate Don’t Ask Don’t Tell will drive away the gay community and much of the youth vote that supported the repeal. As further evidence that Pawlenty would lose horribly, Public Policy Polling conducted a poll in July of 2009 that showed that President Obama was favored to win against Pawlenty in his home state of Minnesota by more than 10 points. Fueling that big of a spread was Pawlenty’s refusal to accept federal funding to implement health care. In 2010, he refused federal health care funds including more than $1 billion to expand the number of Minnesotans covered by Medicaid, $68 million for a high-risk insurance pool, $1 million to help set up an insurance exchange where consumers could shop for health coverage, and $850,000 for teenage pregnancy prevention. He also hurt his popularity by refusing to accept sex education grants that promoted safe sex but Pawlenty did accept a $500,000 abstinence-only sex education grant that will require $350,000 in matching state money. He also vetoed infrastructure spending in the aftermath of the bridge collapse in his state which further angered citizens there. So to recap, Pawlenty is unknown to most Americans, he has vetoed funding that most Americans support and he is aligned with a hate group. But most importantly, his own state supports Obama over him. If you can’t even win your home state, you’re better off not throwing your hat in the ring at all.

Up next we have Haley Barbour, the current Governor of Mississippi and President of the Republican Governors Association. Barbour is the most experienced candidate in the field. He has proven that he can handle disasters like Hurricane Katrina but he had issues during the BP oil spill disaster when he defended them in the midst of their irresponsibility. Barbour stated that the oil disaster proves that the free market works and that BP should continue to drill for oil. Barbour also has issues with Civil Rights, calling the violence of the era “not that bad” even though three civil rights workers were murdered in his own state. He has also defended the White Citizen’s Council, a white supremacist group as being instrumental in integrating the Mississippi school system when in fact they fought against it. Barbour found success working with Democrats but his success in Mississippi will not translate to success on the national stage as the Democrats he worked with were mostly moderate. Barbour cut his state’s budget by being another Republican governor to cut Medicaid, leaving many residents without care. But Barbour has been a strong supporter of education investment, and has largely refrained from being overly critical of President Obama. The biggest problem with Barbour is his controversial Civil Rights stances and the fact that he was once a lobbyist and created the largest lobbying group in Washington DC. Barbour has enough clout to win the nomination and he certainly brings experience to the table, but even he cannot defeat President Obama in a general election. He may win the Deep South, but he would have to do so without the support of minorities who will punish him for his Civil Rights positions. Outside of the South, Barbour doesn’t have much traction at all. Ultimately, Barbour’s support of the South’s dark past will be his downfall.

Jeb Bush, that’s right I said Jeb Bush. Even though he has declared his intention to not run for President, he’s a Bush, therefore we probably shouldn’t believe him. Jeb Bush is the former Governor of Florida and held that post when his brother controversially won the state in the 2000 election. However both men couldn’t be more different. Jeb Bush is widely popular among many different ethnic groups and sought to improve education in Florida. He is considered to be intellectually superior over his brother George. But his stint as governor wasn’t without a controversy.
He was the man who signed a bill dictating that Terri Schiavo remain on life support even though she was brain dead. The bill was later ruled unconstitutional because the government had interfered into the personal privacy of citizens. Bush appeals to a wide range of people across the political spectrum and if he had a last name that wasn’t Bush he would be a significant threat to President Obama in a general election. So unless he changes his last name, people will vote overwhelmingly against the Bush name simply because George blackened it. It’s just another four letter word that’s frowned upon. Maybe he’ll have better luck in another lifetime.

Perhaps the craziest candidate in the field is Michelle Bachmann, US Representative from Minnesota. But not to worry, she has absolutely zero chance at winning the primary. Bachmann has managed to make a name for herself by making the craziest of accusations. She once called for investigations into the patriotism of her colleagues in Congress and she has misrepresented history on multiple occasions, most recently when she claimed that the Founding Fathers ended slavery. She was also critical of how President Obama dealt with BP during the oil spill because he made them take responsibility, and has accused Democrats of being socialists and communists. Bachmann has also incited violence against Democrats and has called for revolution. I think its clear that most sane Republicans want her to disappear, and even the Tea Party is angry with her for daring to assume that she speaks for them. She also has zero leadership experience and is hardly a skilled legislator. Most Americans will not only run away from her, but they will be screaming along the way. My prediction is that the only support she gets will come from the country’s mental wards and that may be an insult to them.

Our next candidate is Jon Huntsman, Jr. Mr. Huntsman is the former Governor of Utah and is the current Ambassador to China. But he is also considered to be a moderate within his party and is perhaps a candidate that could adequately challenge Obama in a general election. He’s from the west so he could definitely carry that region of the country and his progressive stances would attract the Northern vote. Although a fiscal conservative, Huntsman holds progressive stances on climate change, education, health care reform, immigration, and gay rights. Huntsman also separated himself from the Tea Party base of the Republican Party by supporting and embracing President Obama’s stimulus package and is a big supporter of cap and trade. But although Huntsman is an admirable politician that I could see myself voting for, but he has no chance in the primary. To the extreme right wing, he is not conservative enough and considering the extreme direction the party is heading and the push to rid the party of moderates, I would say the Tea Party will make sure that he doesn’t win. To that effort, the Tea Party will accuse Huntsman of being a Republican in name only, and the fact that he agreed to serve in the Obama Administration does not help him one bit. If Huntsman had run for President a decade ago, he would not only have won the primary and general election, but he would have made a fine Commander in Chief. But in today’s Republican Party, its never going to happen, at least not in 2012.

Next up, we have Chris Christie. The Bully in Chief of New Jersey has already stated multiple times that he doesn’t intend to run, which makes me believe that he wants to be asked to do so by the Republican Party. He not only offers an ideological contrast to President Obama but there would also be an obvious contrast in appearance. I have no desire to criticize Christie’s appearance, nor will I stoop that low. But on the issues, Christie is fair game. He is unwilling to compromise on any issue. If you don’t agree with him, he will steam roll right through you to get his way. He has bullied unions, bullied teachers, and has slashed funding for police, firemen, and education. He also wants to slash their pay and ban collective bargaining. He is against abortion, although he refuses to use his office to ban it outright. He favors clean energy but doesn’t support the New Jersey Environmental Protection Agency, vowing to strip away their power to protect wildlife, land, and waterways. He also supports civil unions for gays. Christie is against the public school system as most Republicans are. He could win a primary and Christie offers a decent challenge to President Obama but not enough people know him, and he acts like a bully. Americans do not like bullies. Especially not bullies that want to eliminate rights to negotiate wages.

Now we rank Rick Santorum. Who the hell is this guy? Some loser Tea Party guy? Hahahaha! Enough said. Let’s move on.

Former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee finished third in the 2008 Republican primary. A former pastor, Huckabee is against separation of church and state and has no desire to keep them separated. This means that religion will most certainly play a role in his decisions. Polls have named him one the top contenders in the Republican primary for 2012. But controversy has followed Huckabee. He has been accused of being careless during his time as Governor when he commuted over 1,000 prisoners, many of whom had been convicted of murder and vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. A couple of these commuted sentences have come back to haunt Huckabee. He is strongly againt abortion, even in cases of rape (What is it with Republican candidates and their support of rapists?). Huckabee has stated that he would outlaw abortion entirely. His recent criticism of Natalie Portman not being married even though she is pregnant makes me believe that he would nail unmarried pregnant women to crosses as punishment for their alleged “sins”. And if his constant claims of President Obama growing up in Kenya doesn’t make Huckabee a birther, I don’t know what does. On education, Huckabee has indicated that he would require schools to teach religion, specifically Christianity. With regards to the environment and energy, Huckabee supports clean energy and energy independence that doesn’t include oil, and he believes we should leave the Earth a better place than we found it. A good philosophy if you ask me. Huckabee is the typical Republican when it comes to the economy and he supports spending MORE on national defense. Make no mistake, Huckabee is a serious contender and he could be considered a dangerous President if he were to capture the office. He isn’t exactly a moderate, so the Tea Party may give him some support but his employment at Fox News could turn a lot of voters off in a general election and his religious stances could also hurt him at the polls. He will be supported by the Christian Right Wing, but in terms of electoral prowess, the man from Arkansas is no Bill Clinton. I think Romney stands between Huckabee and the primary victory and even if he were to win that, if would lose against President Obama as more and more people learn just how extreme he is regarding many of the issues.

Speaking of Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts Governor is one of the favorites in 2012 to capture the Republican nomination. Finishing second to John McCain in the 2008 primary, Romney is poised to be the front runner this year but it will be an uphill battle for this New England Republican. Romney can be considered one of the most progressive of the Republicans in the field, second only to Jon Huntsman. He helped close a budget shortfall by closing corporate tax loopholes and raising fees on everything from gun licenses to drivers licenses. He also managed to cut spending while in office although the Democrat dominated legislature overrode most of his vetoes. But Romney was also at the forefront of a movement that brought near universal health care to Massachusetts and signed into law a bill that has since become the basis for President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Romney is also more progressive than the other candidates when it comes to abortion, being against it in general but he favors it in cases of rape, incest, and when the life of the mother is in danger. But Romney hasn’t always held this position. At one time during his run for the US Senate, Romney declared that he believed abortion should be legal. Romney is a strong supporter of Civil Rights and has expressed support for Muslims who have found it difficult to practice their faith here. This differs from the other players in the field, except Huntsman of course. He is also a strong supporter of education and opposes the teaching of creationism in schools. As a businessman, Romney supports investing to create innovation, technology, and competition which is comparable to President Obama. He is a proponent of gun control and endorses a ban on assault weapons. My opinion is that Mitt Romney is a candidate I could vote for, along with Jon Huntsman. But like Huntsman, Romney will be accused of not being conservative enough and while his progressive stance on many issues would make him a great challenger to President Obama, they won’t help him in a primary when most Republicans today are leaning further and further to the right, forcing him to flip flop on many of his accomplishments and beliefs. Nobody likes a flip flopper. But make no mistake, Romney is a candidate to watch. If Republicans even want a chance to win in 2012, Romney would be a great choice, as long as he doesn’t flip flop on his positions. But, if he made it through the primary, its still unclear how the two sides of the Republican Party would vote. Romney’s nomination could very well induce the Tea Party to convince Sarah Palin to run against both mainstream candidates, which would split the Republican vote and clear the way for an Obama victory. And even if a third party didn’t run a candidate, which is unlikely, Romney would still face an uphill battle. Many on the right wing may simply choose not to vote because Romney will be considered too progressive, too Northern, and too elitist. I’d consider voting for him, but he still has to run in an environment where the extreme right wing is gaining more and more clout. So, Mitt Romney would be a good challenger but due to the Tea Party and the South, Romney will probably lose the nomination to our last candidate to rank.

Last, we finally and regretfully rank Sarah Palin. The former Governor of Alaska surprised many when she was chosen to be John McCain’s running mate in 2008. But since then, Palin has gained support from many in the Republican base. Sarah Palin is the darling of the Tea Party. She is against abortion for any reason. Opposes same-sex marriage. Opposed the repeal of DADT. Opposed the START Treaty and basically has criticized anything and everything Democrats have tried to do while in control of the government. She has accused Democrats of being “domestic terrorists”. She has even incited violence against Democrats as many saw the attempted assassination of Gabrielle Giffords as being partly her fault. Palin has little foreign policy experience. She once claimed that being able to see Russia from her house qualified as foreign policy. She also once thought Africa to be a country. She believes in increasing oil drilling and opposes most clean energy efforts. She is also against any and all gun control efforts. Palin is known for making up words, not knowing a thing about history and she once falsely claimed that death panels were part of the Obama health care plan. Pick just about any issue and Palin has taken the extreme right wing position. I’m going to predict that she wins the Republican nomination in 2012. The fact is, the Tea Party has a lot of influence and is capable of vaulting her to the top of the field. She also has the support of right wing media (she works for Fox News) and the Christian Right Wing. And even if she lost, she could still run on the Tea Party platform and thus split the Republican vote in the general election. Either way, Obama wins the general election by a landslide. Voters fear a Palin presidency and you can expect Democrats and Independents and even some moderate Republicans to vote against the Alaskan quitter.

And there you have it. The Republican primary will be very intriguing to watch next year. Many candidates are involved, most of whom are either crazy or extreme. A couple candidates are moderates and would be agreeable to the general public but overall, Sarah Palin will probably win over them all. I think it is safe to say that Jeb Bush will not be involved in the primary and Ron Paul may indeed run again, but he has made many attempts to win the nomination and has failed, and since Palin entered the fray, Paul looks more like a moderate in comparison. Its a relatively weak field so surprises may occur, but I still have a feeling that Palin will win and that is exactly what Democrats are hoping for. Jon Huntsman would be their best bet overall and if Republicans really want to win, they need to denounce the racists, the Christian Right, and the anti-progressives that currently have control of the party. Until that occurs, they can expect not only a Democratic victory in 2012, but in many elections to come.