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Posted at 9:40 AM ET, 12/30/2010

More on imperfect candidates

By Jennifer Rubin

Readers chimed in to inquire about some names I did not discuss yesterday in analyzing the potential 2012 Republican candidates' weaknesses.

John Thune is an engaging, solid conservative who was one of John McCain's better surrogates during the 2008 presidential campaign. But, like Tim Pawlenty, his challenge is to define and distinguish himself from the crowd. In a profile this fall Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard wrote, " He has virtually no national profile. He worked briefly as a lobbyist. He voted for TARP. He is a defender of earmarks. He would be running against Washington from Washington." That said, he is the sort of earnest, likeable politician who might find his way on the short list for VP.

Jeb Bush to many conservatives is an ideal candidate -- a successful reformer, an experienced governor, a capable vote-getter. But he has two handicaps: his last name and his lack of interest in the job. As George W. Bush earns some well-deserved recognition for his accomplishments the Bush name has lost toxicity. That said, the possibility for three Bush presidents may still irk some voters. More seriously, Jeb Bush has said he doesn't want to run. He seems to mean it. But should he change his mind, or should other candidates drop like flies, it's not inconceivable he would be implored to change his mind.

Likewise, Rick Perry has disclaimed interest in the job. He is another solid Republican governor who has won election twice. He does, however, have a tendency to make controversial comments, a minor matter for a popular governor but a more serious problem for a presidential candidate.

And then there is Newt Gingrich. He is much on the minds of House Republicans as they seize the majority -- but this is not a positive sign. Gingrich, both for activists and insiders, is s symbol of hubris, lack of discipline and missed opportunities. They remember all too well the ethics scandal, the government shutdown and the opportunities he opened for Bill Clinton to regain his political mojo. He is in many respects one of the more creative and interesting politicians, but for every interesting idea that comes from his lips there are the gaffes and the wacky formulations (who can forget, "males are biologically driven to go out and hunt giraffes"?!) In that regard he is perhaps the only Republican less disciplined than Sarah Palin and more prone to get himself into hot water.

So once again I come back to my original thesis. There is a reason why so many outsiders and currently lesser-known candidates are sizing up their 2012 chances: the race is anyone's to win. And those with the biggest names have some of the biggest problems.

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 30, 2010; 9:40 AM ET
Categories:  2012 campaign  
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Comments

I sure hope a solid candidate comes forth to challenge Obama in 2012 or Obama may walk away with another term.

Republicans have a history of letting Democrats win by putting forth weak, fuddy-duddy RINOs. Ford, Dole, and McCain come to mind.

Republicans need a strong and determined leader with charisma, experience, and excellent communication skills.

Is there anybody out there???

Posted by: battleground51 | December 30, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

As I said yesterday, Jeb Bush is only the apple of his father's eye. Until the US becomes a monarchy, another Bush should be out of the question. The same goes for Ms Cheney, don't even ask or tell. CB

Posted by: chrisbrown12 | December 30, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Al though it is a long shot since no President came directly from the U.S. House en route to the White House since Garfield in 1880, there is nobody I can think of who can unite the GOP with less baggage then Mike Pence. He would offer a clear alternative to Obama, with charisma, and practicality.

Posted by: Indy82 | December 30, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Republicans will need a solid candidate to replace Obama. The question should be, "Can this person carry Ohio?" If not -- say, Palin, Gingrich, Barbour, Huckabee and most of the others -- then Republican voters need to move on. We can't afford another lame candidate like McCain. We need someone who can go head-to-head with Obama, call him on his failures and lies ("You can keep your current health insurance if you like it"), and decisively win the independent vote. Obama is beatable but only by a strong candidate.

I don't see anyone yet, but Thune might be a possibility. I also really like Ryan and Rubio, but they may need another election cycle. I'd definitely pick Rubio as VP.

Posted by: eoniii | December 30, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Mitt Romney is the only one with a chance.

Posted by: danw1 | December 30, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Mitt Romney is the only one with a chance.

Posted by: danw1
-------------
He's the smartest, most accomplished of the group, but I worry about his health plan with mandates in Massachusetts and his ability to appeal to average Republican voters, the sort that love Sarah Palin or Mike Huckabee. I think he'd probably do well in the general election with independents, but can he win the nomination?

Posted by: eoniii | December 30, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Thune, Bush, Gingrich, Perry. and Palin

Ok Alex, I've got it.

What are the names of five people who will never be president?

That is correct!

Posted by: 54465446 | December 30, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

If you want to have a REAL shot at the prize, pick from among Pawlenty, Daniels, among the current contenders, or Gregg and Corker among those who show no signs of running, but could have a big impact if they did.

Posted by: 54465446 | December 30, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Pawlenty and Daniels are charismatically-challenged, but both have very solid records, especially Daniels. I like Daniels a lot, but I'm not convinced he has the political chops to win the nomination. I think he could carry Ohio, though, the state that will decide the election. His budget expertise and experience balancing Indiana's budget are major pluses.

Posted by: eoniii | December 30, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

I agree with 54465446: throw Judd Gregg and Bob Corker into the mix with Pawlenty and Daniels. But, I am an independent minded Democrat who wants a proven fiscal conservative who does not drag social issues (or identity politics) into the mix.

The problem with the GOP is their RINO fixation. Calvin Coolidge and Dwight Eisenhower would both be called RINOs today.

Ideological purity tests are killing BOTH parties.

At least we will not be hearing any more about an independent Bloomberg run...RIP, buried in the snow drifts of Brooklyn :)

Posted by: K2K2 | December 30, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

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