"Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you”

Pericles



Friday, November 30, 2007

Can the Baptist Minister Win in '08?

In the aftermath of the YouTube mashup in Florida the other night, I got to thinking about which GOP candidate might pose the biggest challenge to a Democrat winning back the White House 11 months from now. In a general election, I rate these GOPers as the most worrisome (as in, they have the better chance of winning):

1) Huckabee
2) McCain
3) Romney
4) Giuliani
5) Thompson

Huckabee is a genial ("Reaganesque") guy. He has a sense of humor. He seems reasonable on fiscal policy (anyone who raises the ire of the Club for Growth gang scores some points for bravery in the GOP, IMO), he joined McCain in challenging the rightwing orthodoxy on immigration by rebuking Mitt with "We are a better country than to punish children for what their parents did."

There is no doubt in my mind his folksy manner puts many people at ease. My dad (no evangelical at all) said this past weekend, "I can picture voting for that Huckleberry guy." Of course, as he gets better known, that may change.

McCain came across at the YouTube confab as the one who hasn't gone off his rocker on immigration - which I think makes him competitive in a general. If the news out of Iraq continues to be one of lessening violence and (somehow) they begin to make progress on political reconciliation, he could increase his general election chances. His problem, as it has been for months, is actually winning the nomination with a base who has become increasingly rabid in their devotion to right wing causes.

Romney - if he can frame the general election about managerial competence, he could be the "change" agent in 2008. That's a HUGE "if" of course. He can actually make the argument that he is the one capable of cleaning up the mess left by Dubya just like he did in the SLC Olympics. He can also say he knows how to be a pragmatic governing executive. After all, he did manage a librul state like Massachusetts. He is certainly no ideologue like Bush. (Although my dad does say, "He didn't leave the Bay State in a mess because he wasn't here long enough.") Not sure how accurate that statement is.

If Romney succeeds in avoiding the ideological issues in a general election, I can see him becoming palatable to general election moderate voters. His biggest liability in my opinion is that he comes across as an elitist intellectual, a la Gore and Kerry. But, Shrub's daddy won overcoming a similar flaw. Sometimes the country wants a leader who doesn't have the "vision thing."

Giuliani - I think that as people see him more, he becomes a truly frightening and delusional figure. This means he could win the nomination and I think the Democrats will have a field day with this one. If the GOP makes the mistake of choosing Rudy because he's electable, I think the general becomes MUCH easier. There are FAR too many skeletons in Rudy's closet. The one thing is that if the contest is between Rudy and Hillary, I believe there will be a third party candidate - whether it's Bloomberg, Ron Paul or someone like Al Gore, I'm not sure.

Thompson - although he did show a few brief moments of awareness during the YouTube gathering, I think his candidacy has been dead for quite some time. There is no fire here - and I can actually picture him midway through a first term deciding, "Nevermind. This isn't as fun as Law & Order." Really. I can.

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