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Posted at 9:30 AM ET, 01/23/2011

Let 1,000 flowers bloom -- and a dozen presidental contenders

By Jennifer Rubin

Bill Kristol writes in opposition to the herd mentality that demands that the 2012 presidential favorite be determined now:

What we need in 2011 is what Lincoln called, in a different context, "an open field and a fair chance" for all plausible contestants to demonstrate their "industry, enterprise, and intelligence." We need many candidates -- experienced and not so experienced, old and young, congressmen and governors, formers and futures -- all making their case, in debates and on the stump, in forums big and small, addressing issues of all sorts and reacting in real time to developments of all kinds.

We should keep that in mind as pundits, starving for scraps of news, wax on and on about early polls. The temptation to dub someone a "darling" of this or that group, based on the comments of a few pundits and columnists should be resisted. From the daily chatter among activists and operatives, I can unequivocally state that no one has yet captured the imagination, let alone the hearts, of the Republican base. One or more of the current crop might -- or it might take a new face in the field to galvanize conservative voters.

There are two factors to keep in mind for those contemplating a run -- and for those activists and potential staffers who are surveying the contenders. First, it takes a big organization and a lot of money to win the White House, but not that much of either to win an early state or two. Recall the campaign of Sen. John McCain. He hired a huge staff and burned through a pile of money in 2007. Then he had to scale down to a few loyal advisors and run on a shoe-string budget. In early 2008, he placed well in Iowa and then won New Hampshire. The money followed victory. Certainly, McCain was a well-known commodity, but in the 24/7 information age, and with multiple debates, the candidates, especially the better ones, will become familiar to the Republican electorate.

Second, the more candidates in the race, the easier it is for a quality candidate to make his mark. Let's say there are ten credible candidates on the ballot in New Hampshire. A candidate could win with a third of the vote and a strong contender could elevate his profile with 20 or 25 percent of the vote.

In short, no candidate should forgo the race because he doesn't have $20 million in the bank in March 2011. Not every candidate will want to sacrifice income or privacy to make a run. But aside from personal calculations, why would any viable conservative sit this one out?

By Jennifer Rubin  | January 23, 2011; 9:30 AM ET
Categories:  2012 campaign  
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Next: So why keep talking to Iran?

Comments

So do you think that Michele Bachmann has a Disney mirror in her house that says "Good morning Madame President!" when she looks in it?

I'd LOVE to know your real opinion of Bachmann as a candidate Jennifer, but I know you can't alienate your base by giving it.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 23, 2011 10:14 AM | Report abuse

"an open field and a fair chance"

And so, Ms. Rubin, will you offer apologies to Palin and Santorum, and then try to refrain from slandering them in the future?

Posted by: johnhiggins1990 | January 23, 2011 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Every potential Republican nominee has a good possibility of beating Obama in the presidential general election. We are about 20 months from Nov 2012, much can happen between now and then:
- declining GDP, job growth, USD;
- further inflation of food and energy costs;
- waves of municipal bond defaults;
- poor withdrawal progress in Afghanistan and Iraq;
- Iran tests a nuke;
- administration legal scandals;
- Obama health issue
Even without the above Obama's popularity relative to other presidents at this point in his term is low.

Posted by: TominColorado | January 23, 2011 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Is Michelle Bachmann the reincarnation (Amererican version) of Margaret Thatcher? That hair is spookily reminiscent...

Posted by: aardunza | January 23, 2011 2:58 PM | Report abuse

My vote goes to the happy warrior, Chris Christie. He would wither the MSM and Mister Peanut if Mister P agreed to debate.

Posted by: ZoltanNewberry | January 23, 2011 10:19 PM | Report abuse

I hope someone we've never heard of breaks away runs to victory. I would vote for any Democrat or Republican who can articulate and demonstrate a genuine compassion for people and a love for the Liberty of the United States. Find a way to cut the number of government bureaucrats by half or 75%. Cut down, 'waaay down on the complexity and intrusiveness of our "government." I have had it for life with tele-prompted, polled-out, focus-grouped candidates who sound like chatty-kathy dolls saying the same things over and over and over. President Obama faked sincerity well but when it came time to prove it he failed. Time for a big, big change from the same old pattern set long ago by the Nixon-Kennedy television debates. Doesn't anyone have a fresh idea?

Posted by: ironmule | January 24, 2011 8:00 AM | Report abuse

"johnmarshall5446" asks about Rubin's opinion on Bachman as a Presidential candidate. The problem is there are people running around telling us "Palin can't win" or someone else can't win. The boys at Powerline have been doing that. But, then what do they do if the "can't win" candidate wins the primary? Do they keep telling us the candidate can't win the general election? That is what Rove did abot O'Donnell and I have lost a lot of respect for Rove since then. There is no benefit to trashing your party's candidate on the alter of orthodoxy or t bolster your own reputation.

Posted by: RickCaird | January 24, 2011 8:21 AM | Report abuse

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