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Do the Republicans Have a Candidate?

Here’s my analysis of the Republican presidential field for 2008:

  • John McCain. I’ve said enough about McCain recently. Some people believe he’s the inevitable nominee; others believe it’s impossible, because too many conservatives are just dead-set against him. I’m in the second camp. And if the nominee, he still faces huge problems: age, health, the fact that he gave up the “Straight-Talk Express” persona that made him a plausible cross-partisan character in the first place. (An interesting debate on TAPPED about David Ignatius’s “A Man Who Won’t Sell His Soul” column concludes that the press explains away any behavior by McCain because they just like him. But that’s a double-edged sword in a presidential campaign. As soon as you hit the campaign trail, the reporters aren’t middle-aged guys who want to hang out with you. They’re 25-year-olds looking to make their mark, and they don’t do it by liking a guy. The McCain cult in the press is weird, but it won’t actually save him.)
  • George Allen. We thought he was an amiable dunce, sort of like a guy out of a Budweiser ad. Actually, turns out he’s a preppy Redneck-wanna-be, a type I’ve encountered once or twice in my life and is probably one of the creepiest personality types there is. To be a racist because you were raised in a racist family in the Deep South is one thing, racist by choice is a bit worse.
  • Bill Frist. Revealed as inept and probably a crook. Utterly charmless.
  • Senator Santorum. Soon to be ex-Senator Santorum. This guy could come back some day, like Nixon, but you can’t lose a swing state and then expect to be the 2008 nominee.
  • Mitt Romney. I’ll go with whatever Amy Sullivan says on whether evangelicals will accept a Mormon. Apparently the answer is no.
  • Sam Brownback. I asked Amy the other day - if LDS is a problem for evangelicals, what about a convert to Opus Dei? Apparently Brownback also still attends a Protestant church as well. But he is a pure theocrat, which is appealing in his seamless commitment to human rights, but obviously frightening as well. And I don’t know anything about this, but I can’t help imagine that his life before he found God, which includes much of his political career, might involve some interesting stories.
  • Condoleeza Rice. That whole Black/Woman thing isn’t a problem, I believe. But are they really going to want the 2008 election to be a referendum on Bush’s foreign policy?

So unless I’m wrong about McCain, it looks to me like the Republican Party doesn’t have a candidate. But I did leave one name out: Newt Gingrich. He’s running. He’s known. His personal failings are old news. He hasn’t had to vote on anything in seven years. And if the Republicans need a change, he alone can tell a powerful story: the Republican Revolution was a glorious victory, squandered by the Abramoffs, the DeLays, and yes, even the Bushes. Newt vs. Clinton? Newt vs. Edwards or Warner or Bayh? I wouldn’t put my money on Newt in any of those contests, but - for that very reason - they would be fun to watch.

Posted by Mark Schmitt on May 3, 2006 | Permalink


That whole Black/Woman thing isn’t a problem, I believe.

Really? I'm astonished. I would also have thought "Unmarried" would be a problem, as well. I've enormous respect for your insight, and I wonder if you can elaborate on this. It is directly contrary to my impression of a significant part of the Southern base.

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | May 3, 2006 7:07:37 PM

I kept waiting for the other name: Rudy Giuliani. Granted, he has an even steeper hill to climb with conservatives than McCain. But he announced earlier this week that he's thinking seriously about running. So let's put Giuliani on the list and chew over his chances.

Posted by: TomHilliard | May 3, 2006 8:33:30 PM

Isn't Condi Rice pro-choice, albeit quietly so? This by itself will render her unacceptable to the Republican base.

Posted by: Ben | May 3, 2006 11:25:39 PM

She's also in favor of affirmative-action, I think.

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | May 4, 2006 1:06:31 AM

You left out my favorite dark horse candidate: Mike Huckabee! I see he was on the Colbert Report, looking plenty affable and not talking about his extreme right-wing views on social issues.

Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot | May 4, 2006 1:17:09 AM

Newt is the Feingold of the GOP field. While both can conceivably make a lot of noise, both can't actually win due to personal issues - in Newt's case the multiple bad divorces.

Posted by: Petey | May 4, 2006 1:55:52 AM

Jeb Bush.

He has to run, he doesn't have a choice.

And, thanks to BBV, neither do the rest of us.

Posted by: Paul -V- | May 4, 2006 2:09:05 AM

Ironic: if Condi Rice was a white man, no one would mention her as a possible Presidential candidate.

Posted by: Barbar | May 4, 2006 10:39:16 AM

Rudy is the only one who can plausibly string out 9/11 for another four to eight years. It's still a gold mine of political capital for him because he can put on a credible maudlin routine over it and not come off abusing it like W. He's formed a big legal partnership with the Houston law firm of W.'s biggest backer. (See http://www.bracewellgiuliani.com/.) So, he's tied into the entire Bush machine. McCain is a head-fake. True conservatives may not like him, but their money doesn't determine the viability of the early runners. He is popular with the big money types who just want to string out the tax cuts by any means necessary. So, he crowds out the other guys early and clears the path for Giuliani who will completely transform his persona. Then he gets the SecDef slot if Giuliani wins. You heard it here first.

Posted by: Chris D. | May 4, 2006 12:21:49 PM

Condi: black + woman + unmarried = I don't think so!

Jeb - what are you smoking? Enough with the Bushes, already!

Posted by: CParis | May 4, 2006 12:29:54 PM

One point about Condi: as an appointed for-pol wonk, she's never had to run for election, and as such, has never had to play the Jebus card to the masses. Can you think of a time when Condi has mentioned religion? For those with a stake in a crypto-theocratic nominee, that's far more of a problem than her sex or race.

Posted by: nick s | May 4, 2006 2:50:24 PM

I wrote about some other names here:


In particular, I always wonder why Mike Huckabee doesn't get more buzz. Giuliani and Jeb too, though perhaps there will be too much "Bush fatigue" to permit Jeb to run.

Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot | May 5, 2006 2:31:32 PM

Interesting that the entry for George Allen is applicable, word-for-word, to Dubya.

Posted by: Hal O'Brien | May 6, 2006 4:10:07 AM

the whole black woman thing....
huh, yeah I'm sure the republican base has no problem with that.

as everyone else has noted, Rice cannot be sold to rock solid republican votes. Offering her as a candidate would solidify any feelings of possible betrayal they may have felt over the last few years. they would take their votes, go home, and they would not return until Falwell was in the running.

She won't get anyone that is in the anti-bush crowd, as most of the U.S is now, because she works for him, she is definitely touched by his reputation. Also if anyone got dirty and mentioned the time she referred to him as her husband... hooo boy!

Posted by: bryan | May 6, 2006 2:42:02 PM

This theme is closed, or here it is possible to ask a question? Thanks...

Posted by: Mikeeee | Aug 12, 2007 1:47:11 PM