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Posted at 12:30 PM ET, 01/17/2011

The path for each GOP 2012 contender

By Jennifer Rubin

Political operatives speak about "a path to the nomination," meaning the series of developments that must occur for a candidate to win the 2012 Republican presidential primary. Let's look at each potential contender's path -- or whether he or she even has one.

Mitt Romney: Ideally for him, he would win Iowa and the race would be over. But the risk of competing seriously and failing is high. If the top dog in the race loses after a vigorous effort, it is a near-fatal blow. For that reason, I suspect he will put all the chips on the table in New Hampshire, hoping to pick up speed and grab wins in Nevada and Michigan. If Sarah Palin runs (and knocks out many other candidates), it boils down to a one-on-one race, which, I believe, he would win. And finally, ObamaCare, I suspect, would need to be repealed (unlikely) or seriously amended (by the courts or Congress) in order to lessen the impact of his biggest liability (i.e. RomneyCare).

Tim Pawlenty: It is critical for him to win or significantly exceed expectations in Iowa. Money and momentum would then build. If Romney does not meet expectations in New Hampshire, Pawlenty may then be the favorite going into South Carolina. Now, if Mike Huckabee runs, this complicates Pawlenty's strategy. (Huckabee won Iowa in 2008 and has strong appeal with evangelicals, who are a critical block in the caucus process.)

Haley Barbour: Assuming he gets in and can push back on the criticism over his racial gaffe, he, too, would need to do well in Iowa. Pawlenty would have to do poorly in Iowa and then fade. Barbour then could become the rival to Romney going into South Carolina, where, if Huckabee doesn't run, he becomes the favorite. Then he savages Romney on RomneyCare.

Mitch Daniels: I suspect he's not going to run at this point, but if he does, he needs to position himself as "the governor without baggage." He'll need Pawlenty to do poorly in Iowa (the other "governor without baggage") and Romney to fail to meet expectations in New Hampshire. Then he gathers momentum. His big problem: He may have a very tough time in Iowa (given skeptics about his social issues' "truce") and not be able to contest seriously against Romney in New Hampshire. If so, he's done.

Mike Huckabee: I suspect he's not going to give up his multi-million dollar media career. But if he does, he has to win Iowa, big. He underperforms in Iowa, and he's done. A Barbour candidacy would severely hamper his run. Given Barbour's organizational skills (critical in Iowa) and his appeal in South Carolina, a Barbour decision to run would make Huckabee's path extremely arduous.

John Thune: Here's a tough one. Coming from an adjoining state, Thune also would need to win Iowa. But, as I suggest above, many other candidates have a bigger appeal there and better organizational skills. Thune is an attractive candidate, but I find it hard to come up with a viable path for him.

Paul Ryan: If he becomes the face of the GOP on the budget and in opposing ObamaCare, demonstrating that he can go toe-to-toe with the president, he might well become the consensus candidate, the guy the party has been waiting for. He appeals to wonkish insiders, Tea Partyers and establishment Republicans. His candidacy would be a blow to Romney's. He might well forget Iowa and put all his chips on New Hampshire. If he wins or vastly exceeds expectations, he gathers momentum and can become the guy.

Mike Pence: I suspect he's headed for the Indiana gubernatorial race, where he would be a formidable candidate. If he does run for president, his problem is similar to Thune's: it's hard to see how he wins Iowa. That said, if Ryan doesn't run, he has a shot to assert himself as the consensus candidate, bridging the divide between Tea Partyers and establishment Republicans. If he can't win Iowa, New Hampshire is a must win.

Newt Gingrich: It is far from certain that he runs. If he does, he will have a tough road in Iowa. As a national figure, he can't very well avoid Iowa. A finish out of the top three (quite likely) would doom his run. Likewise, he would have an uphill climb to beat Romney and all the other candidates in New Hampshire. Also, he is the only candidate for whom a Republican congressional majority is bad news. The 2010 House takeover has certainly done much to revive memories of his erratic and gaffe-prone speakership that ultimately did in the 1994 congressional GOP majority.

Sarah Palin: You didn't think I would forget her, did you? As I have said, I think, especially in light of last week, her chances of running are diminishing quickly. The risk of losing is too great, and the uptick in criticism of her among conservatives is increasing. Let's say she does run. Her first problem is Iowa. She has zero organization skills and seems disinclined to hire experienced staffers. Therefore, it is hard to see how she beats Barbour, Huckabee, and Pawlenty, all of whom can manage the insiders' game needed to win in the caucuses. (Those are more akin to the RNC multi-ballot voting than to a primary.) She loses Iowa and she's done.That's the danger: she not only loses, but loses so quickly that the Palin image is badly bruised. Okay, if she manages to win Iowa (very difficult, in my mind) what then? She certainly isn't going to have much sell in New Hampshire (remember Huckabee in 2008?). Again, I think it's a dead end.

There are many variables, but when you stand back, you have to believe that Romney, Pawlenty and Ryan would be in the top tier. Romney and Pawlenty are staffed up and organized. Ryan would immediately garner tremendous excitement. There are always surprises, but if I were a betting gal, I would put my chips on one of these three.

If you have a different scenario for one or more of the candidates, put it in the comments section.

By Jennifer Rubin  | January 17, 2011; 12:30 PM ET
Categories:  2012 campaign  
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Comments

I believe that for the GOP to beat Obama,their candidate needs to be Female,Black or Hispanic,and same age or younger than Obama.
This is based on their need to split the three major demographics that Obama will dominate otherwise.
Based on my usual accuracy in prediction,Gingrich will get the nod.

Posted by: rcaruth | January 17, 2011 1:03 PM | Report abuse

So, because of the primary process and the early states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, we get stuck with the likes of Dole, McCain, W, and now, quite possibly, Romney? Wonderful. #facepalm#

Posted by: johnhiggins1990 | January 17, 2011 1:13 PM | Report abuse

I disagree with Ms. Rubin's assessment of Governor Palin's chances. Ms. Rubin says "I think, especially in light of last week, her chances of running are diminishing quickly." This appears to the narrative of establishment Republicans, especially those who are aligned with the Left (such as Joe Scarborough).

How on earth have Governor Palin's prospects for running or winning been diminished "quickly" by the onslaught of the media and the Left against her--with absolutely no basis or justification--for the shootings in Tucson? This was clearly the result of media and Democratic insiders looking for an "Oklahoma City moment"--see Mark Penn's comments to this effect last November--and seizing on the senseless tragedy last Saturday to make that case. A case that couldn't have been further from the actual facts as they became known.

And, as has been frequently remarked upon, the media continually repeated the meme that the shootings had launched a national dialogue on extreme rhetoric in political discourse. Of course the only such dialogue was launched by the media themselves as part of their attempt to turn the shootings into an "Oklahoma City moment" for the administration, and enable it and they to characterize all dissent from or disagreement with the administration as "uncivil" and thus bad.

Governor Palin's video on Wednesday was right for the moment--six people were shot, many were wounded, and families were grieving, as was the nation--and raised in an appropriate manner the need to preserve vigorous and open debate on issues in the political sphere. This was necessitated by the media onslaught whose only purpose was to shutdown debate and dissent when offered by the tea party, talk radio, or Governor Palin herself.

Posted by: peter_s | January 17, 2011 1:19 PM | Report abuse

I think that the GOP is far too smart to expect that 2012 will be an electoral repeat of Congressional 2010. They must realize that Obama has the ability to garner a similiar vote count that he did in 2008,but the Electoral College side will favor the GOP to a far greater extent than 2008.
I see 2012,electorally,as more like 2004,boiling down to one state. Colorado,Indiana, will go to the GOP. Fla.,Penn,and Ohio will determine the election even if Obama takes the popular vote.

Posted by: rcaruth | January 17, 2011 1:27 PM | Report abuse

peter_s: Palin has almost 100% name recognition, and virtually no one has a neutral opinion on her. In order to win, she would have to overcome strong resistance even from within her own party, let alone the electorate as a whole. Sure, she has apologists like yourself. But her approval ratings continue to plummet. She'd have to win back a LOT of people, without losing ANY of her supporters. The hill is simply too steep, and the cost too great for her. And quite frankly, why would she give up her current position? She has great influence without any responsibility.

Posted by: lehmanbrian | January 17, 2011 1:29 PM | Report abuse

We must stop Palin.....she is suicide.

Ryan, Pence and Daniels won't run...unfortunately.

Posted by: MartinChuzzlewit | January 17, 2011 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, none from this list will beat Obama, absent some huge national or global crisis that Obama badly fumbles. Not that I'm wishing ill for Obama necessarily. But it would sure be nice if, after a wave election like 2010, the Republican field for 2012 were a lot more impressive than this. Right now, none of them have the ability to 1) unite Republicans, 2) get Republicans at large enthusiastic, and 3) offer plausible overtures to independents and other non-liberals. Absent Ryan, the list of names has been pretty static for 2 years now. It's been a weak list for every day of those 2 years. Time isn't making any of these folks more formidable against Obama. To the contrary, time has done what it's always done - provided opportunity for minor league candidates to shoot themselves in the foot and commit serious unforced errors before ever having to face the voters. That's what's happened to Barbour, Palin, Gingrich, and even Huckabee to some degree. Maybe these folks could recover if the Dem candidate was similarly weak. But with Obama finding his groove again, and the press starting to reworship him again, these candidates have all committed fatal political errors given the stacked deck they're up against.

Posted by: mbcnewspaper | January 17, 2011 2:04 PM | Report abuse

i agree w lehmanbrian. i like sarah palin, but i have a lot of doubts about her authenticity and i think that the liberal attack machine has been largely successful. it would be a mistake to nominate someone so hated by the opposition.

Quite simply, if Ryan runs he wins. Obama is full of sht and Ryan really knows his stuff. I have absolutely no doubt he would come out ahead in a debate, and judging by Governors like Jerry Brown, he might even get a bit of the D vote.

Posted by: batigol85 | January 17, 2011 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Not sure why Iowa is a sticking point.

Previous GOP winners when the nomination was actually contested are as follows

1980 George H.W. Bush

1988 Bob Dole

1996 Bob Dole

2000 George W. Bush

2008 Mike Huckabee

So as you can see, the Iowa caucuses have less siginifcance in determining the eventual nominee than flipping a coin!

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 17, 2011 2:14 PM | Report abuse

The path begins with wresting control of the so-called tea party from the suffocating bear hug of Dick Armey's tentacles.
Only someone with enough guts to say "Hey, I'm IT and I'm moving ahead." NOT someone who is looking for permission to run.
Looking at the Dweeb-Fest that is the GOP leadership, I won't be holding my breath.
Who has the stones to risk it all? To risk stepping on the GOP's cracked bunions?
Better question: Who has NOTHING to lose?
We don't need a rebel; we need a freakin' runaway freight train.

Posted by: BigSea | January 17, 2011 2:27 PM | Report abuse

The major point on which to appeal to Republican caucus attendees and primary voters next year will be hostility to President Obama, liberals and the media.

There is little to choose among the contenders named in the main post here in this regard -- apart, perhaps, from the fact that the possible candidates with recent records of service in public office have expressed their hostility in less vehement terms than the others. This will very likely mean that the candidates with the greatest chances of success next year will be those with the best organization, the most prolific fundraising, and the greatest capacity to avoid mistakes.

At the head of this pack is Gov. Daniels, one of the very few former Bush administration officials who emerged from his time in Washington with an enhanced reputation for competence. If, as some reports suggest, Daniels is reluctant to become a candidate, this may have something to do with that part of the electorate that does not vote in Republican primaries. Hostility to Obama, and past association with Bush's disastrous administration, are not likely to commend themselves to voters outside the GOP base. Just winning the GOP nomination wouldn't be worth very much if Daniels felt he had little chance of winning the general election.

Posted by: jbritt3 | January 17, 2011 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Who are we kidding, Obama will win again. The GOP has no one that can even come close to competing with him right now. They are too busy fumbling over themselves to appeal to the 2% of the population that agrees with the Tea Party, a recipe for disaster

Posted by: maurban | January 17, 2011 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Anyone but Sarah Palin.

Posted by: danw1 | January 17, 2011 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I've read that Rick Perry is polling outside of Texas and that Rudy Guilliani isn't fully out.

It is too early to state that "Obama will win again". That depends on many factors: unemployment, GDP, wars, USD value, etc., which will not be defined until next summer/fall.

Remember four years ago? The dead-cinch conventional wisdom was "Rudy v. Hillary, might as well save the money and not even have the primaries".

It is wide-wide open.

Posted by: TominColorado | January 17, 2011 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Rubin writes:

"...if I were a betting gal, I would put my chips on one of these three..."

If you were a betting gal, you could clean up at Intrade, where Rep. Ryan is currently trading at 0.4% chance to win the nomination. So apparently the market is taking his semi-Shermanesque statements of non-candidacy at face value.

Other values right now:

Romney 22.5%
Palin 14%
Thune 10%
Huckabee 9.8%
Pawlenty 8.6%
Daniels 8.3%
Gingrich 4.5%
Barbour 2.9% (great buy, IMO)
Bachmann 2.5%
Trump 1.6% (a wild card)

Posted by: B2O2 | January 17, 2011 3:09 PM | Report abuse

What about Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson? He has executive experience and was elected twice as a Republican in a very Democratic state. He never raised taxes and vetoed more spending bills than all the 49 Governors combined!

Posted by: libertykid1 | January 17, 2011 3:11 PM | Report abuse

RCAR,

You nailed it. Latinos, Blacks, Jews, and union members alone can almost re-elect Obama. And the Stupid Party probably put him over the top by giving up on the tax issue during the lame duck.

Posted by: Inagua1 | January 17, 2011 3:18 PM | Report abuse

tomincolorado wrote:

"I've read that Rick Perry is polling outside of Texas"

Call me crazy, but until they start a Secessionist Party, I don't think Perry has a shot. If Barbour shot himself in the foot, Perry blew his whole leg off.

"Later, answering news reporters' questions, Perry suggested Texans might at some point get so fed up they would want to secede from the union, though he said he sees no reason why Texas should do that. There's a lot of different scenarios," Perry said. "We've got a great union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we're a pretty independent lot to boot."

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 17, 2011 3:32 PM | Report abuse

I agree with B2O2 that Ms Rubin is putting too much emphasis on winning Iowa. This year will be different than others. Huckabee can win Iowa and South Carolina and Romney wins New Hampshire and most of the Republican electorate will be very unhappy with lots of chances for another candidate to create momentum.

But I also think nobody beats Obama. But the Republicans will take the Senate. Then in 2016 Chris Christie becomes President and God willing, saves the country from financial ruin.

Posted by: jay22 | January 17, 2011 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Considering Perry has been running around giving everyone economics lessons and touting how wonderful his stewardship of his state's finances have been....I think the recent news that Texas' situation is almost as bad as California's and worse than NY's probable means he is done.

Posted by: maurban | January 17, 2011 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Need to get an alternate viewpoint than Krugman's on TX v NY/CA ?:

http://www.nationalreview.com/exchequer/256614/no-paul-krugman-texas-not-broke

Posted by: TominColorado | January 17, 2011 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Well, it's the National Review, so obviously skewed. And (shocker!) incorrect.

http://www.statesman.com/blogs/content/shared-gen/blogs/austin/politics/entries/2011/01/10/revenue_estimate_puts_shortfal.html

Posted by: maurban | January 17, 2011 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Ryan beats ubama pence beats obama christie beats obama daniels is a toss up. if the race is close the rest lose. Ryan and Christie will not run yet. There is a chance any credible republican could beat Obama if the mood of the country does not change and the economy stays down despite all of the stimulus and debt Obama has heaved upon it. The mind set of the midterms coukd carry right into the general election. Do not count out that old bag Hillary as she might look at 2012 as her last chance. The Clintons are quite sly and are loyal to themselves and figure they still owe Obama one for stealing her turn in 2008

Posted by: eddiehaskall | January 17, 2011 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Re Texas: It's a work in progress, and we'll see the outcome defined.

I notice in the Austin Statesmen article:

"Even with the $9.4 billion rainy day fund, the state would still not have enough to maintain services at their current levels, which would run $99 billion according to agency budget requests."

The key there is the "maintain services at their current levels" part... which they won't. They will cut them.

Posted by: TominColorado | January 17, 2011 4:12 PM | Report abuse

I agree with a great deal of this analysis. However, I do think Ryan's and Pawlenty's paths to the nomination are more difficult than suggested. Also, Palin's path is a bit easier. Finally, Romneycare is not as much of an albatross as suggested. One is constitutional and one isn't and Mitt hasn't shown any indication that he will shy away from attacking Obama about Obamacare.

Posted by: dnlchisholm | January 17, 2011 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Texas Legislature meets every two years, this session runs Jan 11 - May 30.

http://www.lrl.state.tx.us/sessions/sessionYears.cfm

Posted by: TominColorado | January 17, 2011 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Realistically, most of the names on that list won't even be in the race.

I think we'll see Romney, Palin, Pawlenty and Gingrich for sure. Possibly Rick Santorum who will go no where and maybe Daniels. Huckabee seems quite happy as a TV talk show host and may not be willing to give that up. For Huckabee, Obama's polling numbers will be key. If he's up, Huckabee won't take the chance. Ryan and Pence, as Congressmen, know they'd have a tough road to the nomination as virtually nobody has goes directly from the House to the White House.

The real contenders will be Romney, Palin, Gingrich, and Pawlenty. Palin will fade fast after the first few debates which will reveal her lack of preparedness for the office she seeks which will leave the contest between Mitt, Newt, and Tim.

Then it will be a test of money, organizatioin and message. Newt has baggage, Romney does too. Pawlenty much less so but still I'd give the edge to one of the first two. Both are extemely smart but in differnt ways and both have developed formidable organizations to go the distance.

Republicans stand the best chance of defeating Obama with Romney in my opinion. Granted, he has some baggage but the baggage only hampers him in a primary. Obama can't run against any of it. Massachusetts health care might be an issue but Obama can't run against that since he supports it himself. His religion gets brought up as a liability but given Obama's much larger issues with religion (Reverend Wright/Muslim), I don't see the Obama campgain launching an attack on Romney's faith. Lastly, Obama, like Romney has changed positions on issues lately (raising taxes on the rich for instance) so how could he go after Romney for evolving beliefs.

Posted by: Ci2Eye | January 17, 2011 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Ci2Eye:
Good comment above.
Tired of Newt, to me he shipwrecked when he did the global warming commercial with the head fool Pelosi on the couch.
Newt would bring some horsepower to the debates.
Surrogates for the other candidates would make sure his divorces are an issue.

Posted by: TominColorado | January 17, 2011 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Ci2Eye - good points that Romney's biggest liabilities will hurt him most in the primaries.
But Obama's base will come out in force for him. Romney will have to excite his base that he won't be Obama because they don't like him.
Unless there is a new financial or foreign policy crisis I can't see enough people swinging to Romney for him to win.
In fact no one - outside of Ryan - has a positive agenda. I don't think, "I'm not Obama" will be enough to win.

Posted by: jay22 | January 17, 2011 5:21 PM | Report abuse

jay22,

Romney would need to run with a Chris Christie type message which he is well equipped to do. He needs to say it is 'time for truth to trump hope' and then lay out the financial crisis facing America and his plan to attack it. I say he is well versed to run with such a strategy because his bio says much of his working career was spent turning around failing organizations including most notably the 2002 Winter Olympics.

I think part of what the Tea Party is about is a desire for honesty and a plan to return the nation to fiscal sanity and put us on a path to solvency. The American people are hungry to be told the truth and then told what it takes to solve our problems. I think most Americans would be willing to roll up their sleeves, make sarifices, and do what it takes to save the land we love. I know I would. We cry out for leaders who will identify the problem and help us attack it and lead us to better days. I think the spirit we saw during WWII is still very much alive where a united America with a cause and a strong leader can accomplish the seemingly insurmountable.

Romney is well-equipped to lead such an effort. No matter what happens to the economy (let's hope it recovers) there will still be the looming debt crisis which Romney could speak of fluently and articulate a plan which should appeal to all Americans.

Chris Christie gives the people of New Jersey a tough, honest look at their state and I think they respect and appreciate that. I think America would appreciate the same approach nationally from somebody who has the credentials to back up the rhetoric.

Posted by: Ci2Eye | January 17, 2011 5:57 PM | Report abuse

As I read Ms. Rubin's post, I'm wondering HOW could each candidate do well in Iowa or New Hampshire? What unique characteristic does each possess that will create momentum amongst conservatives in these states?

My (limited) take:
Barbour is governor of a low-service southern state that ranks at or near the bottom of many measures of socio-economic well-being. I doubt this will appeal nationally, especially given the mega-bucks he made as a lobbyist.

Romney has been seen and found wanting by Republicans already. He'd do well in NH, NV, and MI--as mentioned-- but he would need to do well in the early primary southern states to be the GOP presidential nominee. I await his 'southern strategy' because right now he needs one.

Pawlenty needs money and lots of it, fast.

Daniels can look and act the part, but he's kinda boring to watch. His message may get lost due to his speaking style.

Huckabee won't run.

Ryan will need to do more than just oppose ObamaCare to look presidential. He needs to demonstrate what he's for, not what he's against, to gain momentum. Besides, he took a lot of flak last year praising Palin and said then he wouldn't run in 2012.

Gingrich is doing what he loves now.

Palin: ditto Gingrich above. In the unlikely event she's serious she'll need to gather her team together pronto. She seems to prefer a lone-wolf style of operating, and that would pretty much doom her chances for the nomination. Big time campaigning requires a HUGE staff, which is not especially rogue-like.

Posted by: MsJS | January 17, 2011 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Jen,

I just think its foolhardy to underestimate Palin. With that said, I agree with you that Iowa is pivotal and that she will need to get into the state.

But her ability to raise alot of money, to garner the attention she does, and to connect with the locals once she is on the ground in that state makes her very forminable. Besides she has a strong, committed core of supporters, as you sure know, who will canvass Iowa to get out the vote.

Aside from Palin in Iowa I agree that barring Huckabee running again, I can see Tim Pawlenty contending strongly there and perhaps even pulling an upset. Though it remains to be seen how strong of an appeal he will have among evangelicals there, since Pawlenty doesn't necessarily wear his faith on his sleeve like most winners of Iowa, including George W. Bush in 2000.

Lastly I have to beg to differ with you about Romney's strategy in avoiding Iowa and contending in New Hampshire. If Huckabee runs, it would be wise for Romney to run hard in Iowa and consolidate the base he had there in 2008, because with Huckabee, Palin and Pawlenty vying for the evangelical vote, it could give Romney an opening to win the race.

But I think you are leaving out a few other contenders for 2012. Rudy Giuliani may run and that could have an impact in New Hampshire.

Aside from this I wouldn't count Palin out in New Hampshire neither. I think this 2012 race on the GOP side will be similar to the 2008 race on the Democratic side between Obama (liberals favorite) and Hillary (establishment, moderate).

Both of those candidate went at from state to state to the end and I could see that happening between Romney and Palin. I think both will be able to organize well and raise money and outlast the field of candidates early, then its off to the races.

A long primary fight will benefit both candidates, since Romney doesn't have the national recognition and Palin doesn't have in your words the "gravitas." In that scenario, may the best candidate win.

Posted by: stevendufresne | January 17, 2011 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Cl2eye wrote:

"I say he is well versed to run with such a strategy because his bio says much of his working career was spent turning around failing organizations including most notably the 2002 Winter Olympics"

Actually Romney's business career was spent CREATING failing organizations. He's a private equity guy.

If you know anything about PE firms they take over businesses that have steady earnings and large borrowing capacity. Then then bleed the firm white with loans to finance the purchase, while charging the firm exhorbitant management fees, Meanwhile at the same time they are cutting lots of jobs. Finally after 3-5 years, they either put the firm into bankruptcy over the greatly increased debt burden, or spin it into an IPO that fails a few more years down the road.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 17, 2011 6:31 PM | Report abuse

I think Romney could run on a Christie type message but he just lacks Christie's authenticity.
Romney would need to run on a fix it type message and that he's got the experience to do that.
He could honestly do that I just wonder if people have already tuned him out.

MsJs - Ryan's Roadmap lays out exactly what he's for. In fact he's the only one who has laid out a specific plan on how to fix our fiscal problems.

Christie - Ryan in 2016 and the Republicans will then have the White House for the next 16 years. And maybe 8 more if Rubio comes in after.

Hopefully we survive the 6 years till they take over.

Posted by: jay22 | January 17, 2011 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Johnmarshall5446,

What are some of the companies that Romney took over and "bleed" then sold them off?

My understanding is that the company he founded and ran was Bain Capital which is a PE firm but they mostly invested in start-up companies to get ideas off the ground and provided management services to failing companies. I know there are the slash and burn tactics employed with leveraged buyouts by PE firms but my understanding was that Bain was not that type of company.

I also know sometimes in order to get companies solvent, it requires job losses but if the companies are allowed to stay on the paths they are on, they will fail completley (and so will the US Government)and everyone would lose their jobs so there are two ways of looking at that.

There was a paper company called Ampad or something like that which Bain invested in and it later went bust. Although it ultimately failed, Bain made money off the deal which is somewhat akin to what you describe but what specific companies were raided and stripped by Bain?

Posted by: Ci2Eye | January 17, 2011 7:07 PM | Report abuse

jay22: I've read most of Ryan's Roadmap. If this is what he's going to run on, I wish him luck. It's more managerial than visionary, like a business CFO or chief accountant instead of the CEO.

He's on record as a Palin praiser and saying he wouldn't run in 2012. Given his relative youth (he turns 41 this month), he can afford to wait until 2016.

Posted by: MsJS | January 17, 2011 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Someone posted; "The major point on which to appeal to Republican caucus attendees and primary voters next year will be hostility to President Obama, liberals and the media."

Lets see. that would be Palin, Palin, and well Palin !

She has the money, the devoutees, and more balls than all the Establishment Repubs combined. Only Romney can stop her but his mojo is so weak he couldn't draw a crowd most places and couldn't stop his family home from being bulldozed a year ago.

Romney needs Obamacare to be largely defunded and shutdown by end-of-2011 otherwise Romneycare is his achilles heal.

Ironically massive media hate has now set Palin bar so low... she only has to give a credible speech before people see that she actually is viable.

Posted by: pvilso24 | January 17, 2011 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Cl2eye wrote:

"Although it ultimately failed, Bain made money off the deal which is somewhat akin to what you describe but what specific companies were raided and stripped by Bain?"

A fair question and I'll be happy to:

1988 Stage Storage

1990 Damon Crop.

1992 Ampad

1993 GS Industries

1994 Dade Behring

1997 Details (aka DDi)

2000 KB Toys

That's just the bankruptcies. Bain was actually among the earliest of the new style PE firms to pioneer a stragey of borrowing money to pay a large dividend to certain shareholders.

Most publicly traded companies pay divdends out of the balance sheet so to speak. PE firms often take out large loans, at the same time as they borrow to pay off the investment loans, but use these to pay themselves up front either by dividend or distribution.

That's not the only way they make money though. Even in companies that don't go bankrupt what often occurs is that any employee pension funds are changed over from defined benefit plans to lump sum payment plans or fixed annuities, with the PE firm raiding the excess cash left over. This was one of the tools they used in Dade Behring. Even when the company doesn't fail, the employees lose a lot.

Romney was particularly egregious at KBToys. He stripped out all the cash, about 55 million, and borrowed an additional 67 million to pay a distribution to his Bain people on the board and a couple of the top KB people. Many states would not allow such an action but Delaware corporate law has a very low threshold for such transactions.

KB Toys filed for bankruptcy less than two years later. Bain's actions were so obvious that Big Lots Stores, one of KB's creditors filed suit against Bain for it's actions and settled with them out of court for an undisclosed sum.

I could go and on, but I know this is geek stuff to most and I've no doubt already lost the interest of many.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 17, 2011 9:11 PM | Report abuse

The only GOP that can beat Obama is Marco Rubio

Posted by: bonniebetsill | January 17, 2011 9:15 PM | Report abuse

Johnmarshall5446,

I didn't look at the history of any of the companies you reference except KB Toys since you indicated Romney was "particularly egregious" there.

Interestingly, Bain purchased KB from Big Lots in December of 2000 but Romney left Bain in February of 1999 and moved to Salt Lake City to run the 2002 Winter Olympic Games so Romney had deparated nearly two years before Bain's acquisition of the toy retailer and seemingly long before any management decisions would have been made.

KB Toys did eventually go out of business but not until 2009 and by that time it was no longer owned by Bain.

There was later a lawsuit where Bain was accussed of stripping more than $121 million out of the toy retailer's "piggy bank". Among the defendants named in the case were sub-entities and managing directors, including Joshua Bekenstein, Matthew Levin and Robert White in Bain's Boston office.

I didn't find Mitt Romney's name among the accused.


Posted by: Ci2Eye | January 17, 2011 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Romney was not out of Bain until the end 2001 despite running the Olympics.

Romney never served on the board of KB. It would be a very unusual practice in such cases for the head of the company to serve on a takeover board. He would have been responsible for selecting those who did serve on Bain's behalf at KB. You have to understand the culture of a PE firm.

KB Toys first filed bankruptcy in 2004, which is where the lawsuit came from, but as many do stuggled on in reorganizations until 2009 as you suggest.

You don't have to believe me. I'm nobody but a homeless guy at a public library computer. Do you own research and decide.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 17, 2011 11:54 PM | Report abuse

johnmarshall5446,

I've done some research and it appears to me that as with any company there were successes and failures. One can elect to focus on either and characterize the company negatively or positively. Bain says they've created more jobs than they've eliminated although that was never the goal.

Back to the point though, our government is like a company on the verge of collapse and it could benefit from someone with the skill set Romney possesses and I am sure that in order to save America there would be job losses. Running a campaign that promises to tackle our deficits and restructure government and reduce costs would be Romney's best bet for a path to victory. And that goes for Mitch Daniels too.

Posted by: Ci2Eye | January 18, 2011 1:43 AM | Report abuse

The dark horses remain dark because they haven't demonstrated either the fire in the belly or organizational skills needed to win a national campaign.

Palin is the most likely to win because her supporters will crawl over broken glass to get her elected.

I think she'll run because a loss won't hurt her. It didn't hurt Reagan in 1976 even though he was running against a Republican president and had a role in Ford's general election defeat. Nor did the primary loss in 2008 hurt Romney, Huckabee or Giuliani. That campaign in fact strengthened all of them by showing weaknesses they could work on.

Palin's candidacy has been made a problem both for her and Republicans because of the mud thrown at her by Republican insiders and some pundits. If she doesn't run or loses in the primaries a chunk of her supporters will stay home angered at the pre-campaign slamming which says to them that personal preference is more important to Republicans than principle--as will a chunk of Tea Partiers who stayed within the Republican party through Palin's influence.

That will make defeating Barack Obama very difficult.

Posted by: TD01 | January 18, 2011 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Cl2eye:

Fair enough. I enjoyed the discourse with you.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 18, 2011 11:04 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Libertykid1 up above on Governor Gary Johnson for president. He is consistently left out of articles even though he is clearly running and a great candidate. Regardless he has an amazing track record as governor and has revolutionary ideas for this country. He knows better then anyone that we need to cut spending now and stop just dancing around the subject.

I encourage anyone who is still questioning who they should follow in 2012 to take a moment to visit his website.

Posted by: Eli41 | January 18, 2011 12:58 PM | Report abuse

I would not exclude Jon Huntsman from this early speculation. One of the benefits from winnin the Iowa caucus is fundraising gets much easier, but neither Huntsman nor Romney need to worry about that, although I guess they both have to deal with the evangelical disdain for Mormons.

I also do not exclude Rick Perry.

The only point I know for sure is that all a blogpost has to do is mention Sarah Palin, and the comments never stop.

Actually think this is too early to speculate this way - dark horses and underdogs abound.

Posted by: K2K2 | January 18, 2011 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Like most pundits, Jen puts Romney at or near the the top of the list as a favorite for the 2012 nomination. I think he will fold because I don't know one fellow conservative who is excited about his candidacy. I believe there are two reasons for this: First, Romneycare is too similar to Obamacare; and second, no one knows what his true principles are. He governed Mass as a moderate Republican and then ran to the right in 2008. We need a principled constitutional conservative in 2012. This may be our last chance to stop a move towards a European style social welfare state. This is why conservatives are excited about Paul Ryan. However, Ryan's issue is the lack of executive experience. Don't count out Rick Perry. Here's his pitch: If you want the country to go the way of California, Illinois and New York, vote for Obama. If you want the country to go in the direction of Texas (most jobs created in the country), vote for me. Big government, high taxes and lots or regulations in the name of "spreading the wealth around" or low taxes, less regulation and a less intrusive government in the name of economic growth that lifts all boats.

Posted by: alannyc | January 18, 2011 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Alannyc - I would rephrase "He (Romney) governed Mass as a moderate Republican" to "He ran for Govenor as a moderate republican" In reality he Governed very conservatively both fiscally and socially.

He fought extremely hard to to overturn the courts decisions on same sex marriage, refused to fund embryonic stem cell research, vetoed bill allowing use of the "morning after pill" without a perscription, refused special protection from the state to Ahmadinejad when he visited Harvard, put the states fiscal house in order and tried to get rid of the con artists that were running the big dig.

As for the health care plan that he signed off on he vetoed a majority of items that most would call liberal provisions, the possible exception being the insurance mandate that everyone gets excited about. However, I would argue that unless we are willing to let the uninsured pay for their medical needs or not recieve treatment then holding people responsible through insurance is a conservative principle.

Posted by: texcon | January 18, 2011 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Are you kidding me? Not one single mention of Ron Paul, who's running stronger than most of the people you say are "contenders"? Tied with Romney in Texas, ahead of Daniels, Pawlenty & Thune in Iowa & Nevada, ahead of Pawlenty & Barbour in New Hampshire, ahead of Pawlenty nationally... What the heck? Do some reporting.

Posted by: profg | January 20, 2011 12:54 PM | Report abuse

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