Sunday, May 15, 2011

Huckabee Bows Out - And What That means

Ex-Governor of Arkansas and FOX commentator Mike Huckabee made the announcement on his show as promised...he's definitely not going to run for president.

"All the factors say go, but my heart says no," Huckabee, who cleverly saved the announcement for the last few minutes of his show, thus insuring a nice ratings boost.

"The past few months have been times of deep personal reflection," Huckabee said. "Even though I wasn't actively establishing a campaign organization or seeking financial support to run again, polls have consistently put me at or near the top to be the Republican nominee."

"But I know that under the best of circumstances, being President is a job that takes one to the limit of his or her human capacity," he continued. "I can't know or predict the future, but I know for now my answer is clear and firm: I will not seek the Republican nomination for President this year."

Since his run at the presidency back in 2008 where he finished second to John McCain, Mike Huckabee has had a very different life. He went from being the governor of a small state to a national celebrity, and parlayed that into a successful and very lucrative career as a broadcaster. One political pundit I respect told me about a month ago, "The guy just started building a new beachfront house, one he could never of dreamed of being able to afford when he was a politician. No way he gives all that up to run for president."

I'm sure that weighed in his decision, but I also think that he thought about the effect a nation-wide presidential candidacy would have on his family and his own peace of mind, and he simply decided, "I like it just fine the way things are."

So, with Mike Huckabee out of the race, who picks up his supporters? Nate Silver is a Lefty who blogs over at Pravda-on-the-Hudson,but he is a numbers guy whose analysis is worth reading, even when his conclusions are colored by his political views.

What he did here is to assign a 'point value' to the prospective GOP candidates based on what he saw as Huckabee's appeal - that he's a social conservative, an evangelical, a political outsider, a Southerner, runs strongly in Iowa, and works for FOX. Guess who he sees as getting the most benefit and picking up most of Huckabee's supporters? Herman Cain, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, and Michele Bachmann.

Cain was the clear winner in last week's South Carolina debate, which was most notable because most of the major candidates didn't participate. Governor Sarah Palin, of course, would have wiped the floor up with the ones who did had she appeared.

The way I see things stacking up is quite differently than Nate Silver when it comes to cui bono, who benefits, since I weight the factors differently.

Tim Pawlenty and either Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachmann are the top choices of the evangelical/social conservative crowd, and out of the three, Sarah Palin is the obvious choice in terms of charisma and star power should she decide to run.

I like Herman Cain, but one thing the debate did reveal was the fact that he is going to have to do some serious studying up on foreign policy issues to be credible.Also, running a government is quite different than running a business, where a CEO can expect to have his orders obeyed and has a lot more leverage than a president does if they aren't.

Right now, the official front runner is Mitt Romney,and his ability to self finance and his familiarity to voters in the early primary in New Hampshire are definite pluses for him. I doubt that will be enough to overcome his doubling down on RomneyCare or the fact that he's simply another Harvard-trained Big Government technocrat, and one without the ability to viscerally connect with voters. I still maintain that Obama would find Mitt Romney easier to beat than any other GOP candidate except Ron Paul.

I put Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump at about an equal level of seriousness, and Rick Santorum has limited support and his manner may be problematic for a lot of people.

The race will probably come down to a battle between Romney, an establishment Republican anti-Romney candidate, ( probably Mitch Daniels or John Huntsman if they get into the race) and a Tea Party outsider candidate, which is going to end up being Herman Cain, Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachmann.

The only other candidate I see in the current menagerie who likely has the staying power to hang in there for awhile is Tim Pawlenty, provided he gets better known, better funded and comes across better in debates.

The big question now, of course, is what Sarah Palin is going to do. If she gets in, she's going to consume a lot of the oxygen in the room simply because of whom she is. Will she, or won't she?

I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume that Governor Palin is still making her decision, but planning a run. If I were her,what would I do at this point?

The conventional wisdom is that prospective candidates spend a lot of face time in New Hampshire and Iowa, put together a high profile 'exploratory committee' to fundraise and button hole influential supporters and participate in every dinner, meeting and media opportunity available to raise their name recognition.

However, Governor Palin has never done things in the conventional way. She's always followed her instincts. The one time she didn't was the 2008 presidential campaign, when she allowed the 'professionals' to run her, the same people who later tried to palm off their own ineptness by blaming her for the loss. I'm sure that was a very valuable lesson she hasn't forgotten.

If I were Governor Palin, I'd likewise be waiting for awhile to announce whether I was a candidate. She has no problem with name recognition, and she has the ability to draw large crowds in Iowa and New Hampshire anytime she wants to simply by showing up if she decides to get in. She already has SarahPac in place as a fundraising mechanism, and my sources tell me she also has a couple of very behind-the-scenes supporters campaigning and canvassing for her in Iowa and South Carolina.

Governor Palin is unique in that she not only has high name recognition but she appeals to a wide range of fiscal conservatives, evangelicals, Tea Party adherents, foreign policy conservatives and Reagan Democrats. She also has the advantage of having been slimed as much as possible by the Democrats and their media allies to the point where there are no new negatives possible. If Sarah Palin borrowed five dollars from an aide and forgot to pay it back, it's already be on the front page of the New York Times, and there not too much more of that sort of thing that can be done without it starting to backfire and lose it's effect.

I wouldn't be surprised if Governor Palin was simply waiting to watch some of the other prospective candidates do themselves some damage or otherwise eliminate themselves - it's already worked with Mitt Romney, Donald Trump and with Mike Huckabee, someone who was seen as her chief competitor for the same constituency.

The next debate between the so-called major GOP candidates occurs June 13th in New Hampshire, and there will likely be a casualty or two in that fracas as well. After that, you might just see the Arctic Fox announce in the mid summer or early fall.

The first real primary is the Iowa caucus on February 6th, 2012, followed by New Hampshire a week later and South Carolina February 28th.

I don't often quote Pat Buchanan, but he does understand politics. He has remarked on more than one occasion that if Governor Palin runs, she'll likely win in Iowa and South Carolina and will then be very difficult to stop once she has that kind of momentum.

I agree with him.

And I personally think that an articulate, charismatic conservative Republican who's unafraid to hit President Obama hard on his dismal record has to be his worst nightmare come 2012.

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louielouie said...

She also has the advantage of having already been slimed as much as possible by the Democrats and their media allies

come on now ff you aren't that naieve.

Freedom Fighter said...

No, I'm serious. What else can they possibly say about her and her family without it backfiring?

It does after awhile, you know.

Roy Lofquist said...

I've been watching these quadrennial circuses since 1952. I think your analysis is spot on. Conventional wisdom (beltway and MSM) is about as reliable as your average tout at the local dog track.

I am reminded most of 1980. Obama is Carter redux. Reagan was widely seen as unelectable - but people liked him. People like Sarah. I'm talking people, not press.

I thing The Wicked Witch From The North (TM) ranks with Eisenhower, Kennedy and Reagan as the smartest politicians I have seen.

Who'd a thunk that Ronnie would com back as the hottest chick on the planet?