Hollow Victories?

One aspect of the Republican race for the nomination that may yet become a serious issue is the penalty assessed on NH, SC, FL, AZ and MI because they held their primaries before February. It has been the case that no Republican has won the nomination without winning SC and either IA or NH. Yet, this year those victories are more a public relations victory than ones that really build a delegate base. Even if Mitt Romney swept the January primaries, he won’t have amassed the type of delegate count candidates would have historically had by Michigan. When he is only polling on average at 25% across the country and a couple other candidates still with money and a national campaign staff, Romney could be unexpectedly wiped out on Super Tuesday.

While the traditional conservatives are split right now between three candidates, there is time to unite even after Michigan and still effectively challenge Romney. That was not the case four years ago when the split among the conservatives allowed McCain to build not just a list of victories, but a strong foundation of delegates. With half of the delegates stripped from the early primary States and the proportioning of delegates splitting them even further, Mitt Romney will not have the lead that McCain had by Michigan even if he runs the table. That has to be cause for concern.

Complicating the issue is the candidacy of Ron Paul. He’s not going anywhere. He can raise the money and has the grassroots network to at least maintain his current percentage of the votes. As the conservatives coalesce around a single candidate, this will become a three man race. Even if the final conservative candidate cannot fully consolidate all of the support currently spread across three, he will only really need around 40% of the electorate to win the election if Paul stays around 20%. Romney voters are not energized for him, generally speaking. Already he is tied with Ron Paul when they are polled against Obama – meaning Romney’s ‘best candidate to defeat Obama’ pitch is already losing its power. When the conservatives finally settle on a single candidate (probably after Florida), that person will likely also pull even with Romney and Paul on head to head match-ups with Obama. With the moderates split, a conservative could cruise to victory.

Super Tuesday could also redefine the election from the current Romney vs. non-Romney into Paul vs. non-Paul. This is possible because the conservative candidate will battle Romney mainly as the main rival, leaving Paul to his 20%. Once the delegates get tangled up between Romney and the eventual conservative candidate, Paul’s slowly accumulating delegate count will become an issue. More moderate Republicans could begin to shift from Romney to Paul as Romney’s chances of victory wane. Gingrich, Santorum and Perry are all polarizing figures. Unifying each others’ supporters will be hard enough, but winning over the more moderate voters could be very difficult, especially if the kinds of attacks on Romney that have been made by them recently continue over the next six weeks. Disgruntled Romney supporters (the elderly in particular) may shift over to Paul giving him both the elderly and the youth. If the vitriol between the eventual conservative and Romney were bad enough, Romney could even endorse Paul just to stick it to the person who ‘robbed him’ of his nomination.

Of course, the conservatives uniting may not happen. An angry Perry or Santorum or Gingrich could pull out and endorse Romney rather than join with a conservative they are angry with. That would give Romney more conservative credentials and be just enough to let him steamroll over the final conservative candidate. With Paul pulling out at least 20%, Romney doesn’t need to be stellar so long as the conservatives don’t fully unite.

Certainly this is all speculation. However, the stripping of half the delegates from the early primary States has bought time for the conservatives to unify that they lacked in 2008. Combine that with a stronger Ron Paul who has gone all in this year (abandoning his seat in the House) and the early primaries just don’t hold the power they normally do. A third party run in the general election is very unlikely. But the dynamics of such a race playing out for the Republican nomination is not only possible but probable. The conservatives will unite. Paul will continue on. Romney will not be safely ahead in the delegate count after FL. How that plays out just can’t be predicted right now. Just don’t think that it is over even if Mitt sweeps right through FL. The victories are hollow when it comes to actual delegates gained. He’ll still be vulnerable. There are States that only Romney and Paul are on the ballot and conservatives could support Paul in those just to weaken Romney, complicating the delegate picture. This isn’t over and won’t be over for quite some time.

So Much for the New Newt

Many years had passed since Newt Gingrich served as Speaker of the House. In those years, Newt told us that he had matured. He had seen his mistakes, found religion and was ready to put policy solutions and a positive vision for America at the center of his campaign. He refrained from fighting with the other candidates during debates and cited Reagan’s ’11th commandment’. His strong positive vision, clearly presented solutions and generally revamped image propelled him from the bottom of the pack to the leader. Then came the attack ads against him and everything changed.

The Newt we all remembered came back from exile and the professorial solutions image was chucked into the dumpster. The old Newt is backThe scrapper from the past is back and his debate appearances and interviews are now completely devoid of policy or vision. He’s even gone so far as to attack from the left and make the case that Obama was right when he claimed there is some limit to when someone has made enough money.

Where once it was feared that Ron Paul would be the one to fracture the party and set up an Obama victory, the truth is that Gingrich has assumed that role. In his effort to salvage his campaign, he’s not only attacked the character of his opponents, but also attacked bedrock beliefs of the Republican Party. The Free Market he championed when he was ‘new Newt’ is now in his cross hairs as he asserts that shutting down a failing business is immoral “looting”. That sounds like something Obama would say and it will be something he does say and a soundbite he will use in November. Even if Romney is not the nominee, Newt’s attacks on free enterprise are ammunition for the Obama campaign because Obama hates free enterprise and will want to weaken whoever is the Republican candidate by undermining that person’s support for free markets through Newt’s arguments.

There were many things I liked about Newt Gingrich and he was in my top three from which I expected to pick who I would finally support. I called his rise in the polls and was offered a spot campaigning for him in my State (which I declined at the time due to still being undecided) because of my praise for his ideas and character. Yet now, I regretfully add his name to the sort list of candidates I will not support. His leftist attacks cannot be forgiven. The ammunition he has handed to the Obama campaign cannot be forgiven. That he would be a man of positive vision and solutions can no longer be trusted due to how quickly he abandoned those characteristics when he faced difficulty. The Presidency is inherently difficult. The opposition from the Democrats, the Washington machinery and the liberal media will be far worse than the attack ads that drove him to destructive retribution.

I am sorry to see the ‘new Newt’ gone. I liked him. I could have happily supported him. He gave me confidence and inspired me. But, he’s gone now and I wouldn’t trust a reemergence of him as genuine. The field has thinned by one. Most people may not know it yet and may need to see what happens after SC and FL, but Newt has killed his own campaign. Had he stayed positive and solutions oriented, he could have come in third in NH and won SC and FL. By making leftist attacks on Romney and belittling Santorum as a ‘junior partner’, he has alienated the voters he needed. SC will not be the turning point of his campaign. It will prove his campaign is already finished.

Lessons From History

There is a saying often attributed to Mark Twain that goes, ‘History does not repeat itself but it does rhyme.’ Any fools with a nostalgia for the late 70’s learned the truth of that in the past few years. Being President is about more than smiling and speaking in grand platitudes. It is a harsh reality of perpetual crisis both foreign and domestic – many of which the American people never really learn about unless they spin out of control.

We like to look at candidates for the office and project onto them the mantle of some previous President. It gives us a false hope of how they will handle the unknown future. Sometimes the candidates try on the mantle of a previous President themselves and try to convince us that they wear it best. Call me crazy, but Michele Bachmann doesn’t look convincing in her Reagan costume.

For all the best hopes of pundits and packaging of candidates themselves, rarely are the mantles draped upon candidates accurate. Obama is no Kennedy nor FDR as claimed in his campaign in 2008 nor a TR as he claims now. He’s a Carter. It’s no wonder he is seeking a different comparison.

The Republican field is not full of Reagans nor does it have a Jefferson or Jackson in its midst. However, if we look closely at the candidates, their records, the political reality of today and history – we may be able to figure out which President each would most likely resemble once actually in office. Here in short form is my take on who each candidate actually would be most like if elected:

Mitt Romney – Romney claims to be Reagan. Romney is not a hard core anything. He is a pragmatist. He has a track record of working across the aisle and changing his position to side with prevailing opinion. He is slick, managerial and focused more on accomplishing something than on getting what he wants. Gerald FordRomney strikes me as being most like Gerald Ford. Government would probably hit a few bumps with him in office, but he’d learn to navigate the prevailing political moods and generally make things better. He wouldn’t distinguish himself or ever really connect with the American people. Congress would get more credit for any success than he would and while no one would really hate him, few would champion him.

Newt Gingrich – Gingrich claims to be Reagan and Jackson. Newt is mercurial, knowledgeable, an insider who sees himself as an outsider, not the ally of many in his own party and has a drive to prove he is better than his reputation from Congress. He was written off by most, yet inexplicably manages to keep hanging around. Richard NixonGingrich strikes me as being most like Richard Nixon. He is likely to fight with his own party and even go against the popular will of the American public to do what he thinks is the right thing to do. He’d use use his ability to speak plainly to the people to rally just enough support to maintain his ability to assert his agenda. Yet, his insecurities and anger at a media that jabs at him would detract from an ability to even enjoy his successes. He would likely have difficulty maintaining an administrative core.

Ron Paul – Paul claims to be Jefferson. Paul is a stubborn yet principled politician who would rather be right by his own views than compromise on anything. He has no real friends in Congress and is the enemy of the very machine he would seek to operate. He is constitutionally astute. Andrew JohnsonPaul strikes me as being most like Andrew Johnson. He’ll fight not only the opposing party, but the leaders of his own in Congress. The machinery of the bureaucracy assembled by previous administrations would be his main target as it would be something he thought he could change. A long train of vetoes, overrides, wiggling free from Congressional attempts to wrangle him and generally four years of being right, but equally disliked by all.

Rick Perry – Perry claims to be Reagan. Perry is a man of great ego, personality and amorphous convictions. He surrounds himself with advisers who define most of his actions and control access to him. That limits his ability to see more than just one side of an issue and sometimes puts him in a predicament. George W. BushPerry strikes me as being most like George W. Bush. He’s as likely to expand government to be ‘compassionate’ as he is to cut some part of it. He would likely be often caught misspeaking as the policies of his staff would not be his own and his answers to questions about them would lack grounding. He’d make numerous gaffes that pundits on both sides would wonder how he could have ever been able to be so stupid, but those gaffes would come as a result of the bubble his advisers would keep him in.

Rick Santorum – Santorum claims to be Reagan. Santorum is a strong social conservative who believes in using the power of the federal government to dictate domestic issues that were previously State and local matters. He is a party man who went along with government expansion and big spending when his party committed it – although he claims he realizes that was a mistake and wouldn’t do it again. John AdamsSantorum strikes me as being most like John Adams. He would likely push his ideology fiercely and fail to see when he had gone too far. He would surround himself with advisers and policy makers who once worked for or around his beloved mentor (in this case Reagan) but lack the wisdom of that mentor to know when those advisers and policy makers had drifted too far from the will of the people. He would not understand why his administration would become unpopular and instead entrench himself further.

Michele Bachmann – Bachmann claims to be Reagan or Jefferson. Bachmann is a wannabe ideologue. She clings to the banner of the Tea Party, yet is easily dragged towards neoconservatism whenever she feels that she needs to sound tough. She is generally over-matched by the enormity of the Presidency even as a candidate. While she can spew soundbites, she is slow to hit the mark when thrown an unexpected question. Barack ObamaPolitical ideology aside, Bachmann strikes me as being most like Barack Obama. She would most likely struggle to find effective ways to get her big ideas turned into actual policies even with GOP control of Congress. She’d feel the need to embark on military adventures to prove she wasn’t weak on defense. She would reverse herself on executive orders and start issuing many of them as an alternative way to implement her agenda.

Jon Huntsman – Huntsman claims to be a Reagan. Huntsman has great executive experience and deeply understands the geopolitical and economic position of the Unites States in the world in relation to past, present and emerging world rivals. He is measured, reasonable and yet considered an outsider by even his own. Dwight EisenhowerHuntsman strikes me as being most like Dwight Eisenhower. He would likely chart a course that looked far more into the future than the leaders of Congress. He would be strategic rather than tactical in military and foreign affairs. He would challenge the status quo and risk rebellion from his own party when he put pet projects on the chopping block. He would be seen more as a fatherly President than a partisan one.

I could be very wrong in these associations, but I think they are fairly accurate. We just can’t really know until they sit in that office. But, we do have their histories and personalities as well as those of the men who already held the office and how that office changed them. From those, we can construct better guesses as to which President they will not repeat, but most rhyme with. In all cases, it is not the one they think they are – at least in my opinion.

In doing this exercise, my views of the candidates have changed a bit. Thinking not of who I would like them to be or who they sell themselves as, but who their history and personality most aligns them with has left me questioning my leanings in this race. I don’t accept the general media criticisms of our candidates or the wild histrionics by the champions of one candidate against opponents. However, viewing these candidates in an historical light and how their strengths, weaknesses and personalities would likely mix with the current economic, political and international reality does raise some new questions for me. Of Ford, Nixon, G. W. Bush, A. Johnson, J. Adams, Obama or Eisenhower, who could not only best beat Obama in 2012 but best address the foreseeable problems? Would stagnation and infighting in Washington be worse than misguided progress or the other way around? Is victory today and four years a stability worth backing a candidate that could probably be beaten in 2016? When there is no Reagan clone, on whom can we settle?

I don’t have the answers to those questions for you. They are for each of us to decide on our own when choosing a candidate. I don’t even have the answers for myself which is why I remain undecided and uncommitted. I’ve ruled out three of the seven, but have a long way to go before I get down to one.

Ron Paul: Foreign Policy Radical?

Below is a video with highlights from the 2000 Presidential Debates by George W. Bush on his foreign policy ideas. If I’m not mistaken, he sounds a lot like Ron Paul when it comes to being over-deployed, being overly involved in the internal affairs of other nations and getting into fights we have no exit strategy from. Who knew that George W. Bush was unelectable and completely impossible to sell as a candidate to the conservatives of the Republican party with such a weak, isolationist foreign policy?

I guess it doesn’t matter if you have a more non-interference based foreign policy (as George W. Bush campaigned upon and Ron Paul does now) so long as you are for other big government things like expanding Medicare, expanding the Department of Education, etc. as Bush campaigned and delivered upon. I wonder who the real conservatives are in this party if Bush could win in 2000, but Paul is unelectable in 2012?

Ron Paul: The Only Flawed Candidate?

Ron Paul can’t win. That’s the going theory, right? He can’t win because he’s soft on national security. He can’t win because he’s soft on drugs. End of story.

The question that remains is how it is instant that Ron Paul’s issue flaws are fatal but every other candidate’s issue flaws are explained away? We are all well familiar with the flaws of Romney, Perry, Gingrich, Santorum, etc. What should be fatal flaws for conservative voters are set aside because ‘on most issues’ the candidate is correct. They are not “un-electable” even if they supported big government medical takeovers, massive failed bail-outs, rewarding illegal immigrants with perks, siding with ultra-liberals in the Global Warming scam or voted time and again for massive increases in spending and deficits. Yet, somehow Ron Paul is “un-electable”.

Just what is it about Ron Paul that makes him an exception to the rule? Why can’t he be judged by the same standard, i.e. being correct ‘on most issues’? One could argue that his position against preemptive war is a fatal flaw because Republicans prize national security above all else. But, at least half the time Paul and the rest of the field have agreed on not taking action in various military actions over the past few decades. So is he soft of national security or is he just not a team player when his party is for a military action similar to those they opposed when a Democratic President was launching it?

My goal is not to tear down any of the Republican candidates but to question why Ron Paul is the only one who all the conservative pundits have written off even though he has a stronger record on fiscal conservatism, protection of life, illegal immigration, limited government and pretty much every other conservative issue than any other candidate. Disagree with him on national security or the drug war as vehemently as you want, but go after the big government, big spending, soft on illegal immigration and such issues vehemently on the other candidates. Let the voters decide if, at this point in time, someone strong on pre-emptive war but pathetic on fiscal conservatism or supportive of big government programs or soft on illegal immigration is better than someone weaker on defense but strong on fiscal conservatism, strongly against big government and tough on illegal immigration. Isn’t that our choice to make?

I am an undecided voter. I see flaws with all of the candidates and I need to weigh them all to decide which flaws must be overlooked for the greater good. But, I get to make that decision and no candidate is “un-electable” simply because of one or two issues out of dozens. Ron Paul is as legitimate a candidate as any of the others and should be treated as such. The belittling of his candidacy and of him is a disgrace to the party and a disservice to the Republican voters who need to be trusted to weigh the good and bad of each candidate and make their own decision.

A Dismal Fight for Relevance

The GOP Presidential debate in Las Vegas highlighted not only some of the candidates’ fight for relevance, but the fight for relevance for many voters in the nation. Nevada joined the growing number of States moving up their primary election. The voters in many States have felt as though their votes did not matter. Key swing States often vote so late that the primary process is basically over and decided before their votes are cast. It has been argued that this has resulted in nominations of candidates that don’t speak to the needs of most Americans, but rather just to the needs of a handful of non-representative States. The power that Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina have in the nomination process outweighs that of key general election States like Florida and Ohio. The cost of running a campaign is so staggeringly high that a candidate that does not appeal to the voters in Iowa or New Hampshire may be out of the race regardless of how he or she is polling in more critical States. The problem effects both parties and gave the Democrats Barack Obama and the Republicans John McCain, not the first choices of the majority of people in key general election States at the time of the early primaries. Penalties against States in 2008 from the Democrats are being matched this year by many Republican candidates boycotting Nevada either wholly or in part.

Jon Huntsman was absent from the debate in protest. In reality, his ‘protest’ had more to do with courting New Hampshire voters than it did with any principle. He is seeking to knock Romney down in the New Hampshire polls and lift himself by painting himself as their real ‘friend’ and Romney as not really for their needs. Romney, Perry and Paul decided to leave the placement of primaries to the States and stay out of their affairs. All the others didn’t seem sure of what position to take, so they went to the televised debate but skipped other events. That is sort of like going to the all you can eat buffet and ‘making a stand’ by not eating any oyster crackers. It isn’t a position based on any principles and it isn’t particularly meaningful. In the end, it all comes down to Huntsman trying to make himself relevant by playing up the inflated relevance of New Hampshire while Nevada is trying to make the votes of its citizens relevant by moving up its primary.

The rest of the field used the debate to fight for their relevance. Bachmann and Santorum needed to make a big move. Gingrich needed to put on as good a performance in this debate people could actually watch as he did in the minimal audience Bloomberg debate so they would see his relevance. Perry needed to show that he can be an effective candidate without a teleprompter or he might drop further in the polls to total irrelevance. Cain needed to show that he had foreign affairs ideas and not just 9-9-9 so that he can truly challenge Romney. Paul needed to connect with the viewer better after publishing his plan full of popular conservative ideas so that he is no longer viewed as irrelevant to mainstream voters. Lastly Romney needed to put some passion into his performance and show the voters something to be excited about so that he can see his poll numbers break out of their long-time holding pattern.

Unfortunately none of the candidates succeeded. They could have all come out of the debate better off and advanced the larger conservative cause. Instead, rather than any winners, the debate is better measured in who the bigger losers were. In the effort to make themselves look better at the expense of other candidates, Santorum and Perry generally made themselves look like jerks. The only civility in the debate came, once again, from Gingrich and Cain. Romney, who needed to energize the voters and give them a reason to be excited by his campaign, instead decided to engage in attacks on other candidates in a very condescending manner. Bachmann did better on issues than in some previous debates but still came across as a yipping dog.

Now I’m sure that there will plenty of you who think I am being too hard or too mean to these candidates. You may feel that it is disloyal to the party or the movement for a conservative blogger to call out these candidates. You may think your preferred candidate somehow was justified in his or her actions during the debate. You may think they won the debate. As someone who has yet to make a choice on these candidates, I are weighing them all and I was disappointed in their performances this time. I know they could do better. I expect them to be better. We need them to be better.

That being said, there were many good responses and messages put forth in this debate on security. There was not as much consensus on security issues as there had been on economic issues. Some interesting divides emerged. It was surprising that Bachmann, as Tea Party champion, aligned more with neoconservative Santorum on foreign affairs. She was far more a champion of interventionism than any other candidate on the stage aside from Santorum. How that will play with the less interventionist leanings of most Tea Partiers will be seen in the next round of polls. Ron Paul has generally had weak support from most conservatives on foreign affairs, but he did manage to better articulate his positions on those matters. Herman Cain was able to be a more broad candidate and not just Mr. 9-9-9. Rick Perry appeared prepared and engaged for the debate. So, there are some good parts that came from the debate. It is just unfortunate that most of that was buried underneath a mountain of attacks and counterattacks between the candidates.

The conduct of the candidates is translating to the voters. The audience in the debate hall was far more divided than in previous debates. At times they even booed various responses. That is good news for Obama, but not very good news for the GOP. The only person who really seems to get that is Newt Gingrich. If the candidates continue to drive wedges within the party in their fight, they may only make the eventual nominee so weak that the party itself will have to fight for relevance again. We need to be building on the momentum of 2010, but are slowing our own roll and giving Obama everything he needs to destroy any of these candidates in the general.

To all of the candidates (except Speaker Gingrich), I must say that I am disappointed in your actions and while I came into the debate excited about my choices, I am leaving the debate much less so. We need leaders. Attacking your fellows is not leading. Bashing another’s ideas is not having vision. Grow up.

Is It Too Late?

Some very wise political analysts wrote that things have changed since 1992 when Bill Clinton got into the race late and managed to win. The need to build a national campaign network, raise money and meet the demands of 24/7 campaigning without making a single mistake are hurdles that put late joiners at a serious disadvantage. Mitt Romney has been raising money, performing in debates, bringing in endorsements and satisfying local political committees necessary for the early primaries. He can do it because he has a network in place to do most of the work for him, leaving him free to focus on interviews, debate prep and meeting with the big donors. Gov. Perry, as a relative late-comer, is floundering by comparison. The overwhelming demands on his time in places he has no network and from people with whom he has no intermediaries have strained his ability to focus on improving his debate abilities. His big lead has slumped and he is at risk of simply fading away. By the time he gets a full national campaign in place, his mistakes may have made him irrelevant. Soon Herman Cain will face the same problems. These were the reasons various pundits said Christie should definitely not get into the race. It was too late, even if he had changed his mind.

But is it too late? Being in early and ahead in the polls is no guarantee of success. The pages of campaign history are littered with the failed campaigns of big names, with national support and early planning. Perhaps the right question is not whether it is too late, but rather is it too soon? It is clearly too late to get into the race and compete against the established campaigns. There is not enough time to get a national campaign up and running effectively between now and the early primaries while simultaneously engaging in frequent televised debates. But, that doesn’t mean it is too late to get into the race at all. It just means it is too early to be a late entrant.

Look at the poll numbers Perry pulled in just due to hype. Christie saw the same, although he ended up not running. Cain made one great debate appearance and his numbers shot up. However, Perry and Cain now have to find a way to sustain that popularity for months before it can translate into votes. Just ask Michele Bachmann how that straw poll victory is treating her now. Frankly, getting in early opens the door to constant attacks by a vengeful media and the inevitable mistake that will get blown out of proportion just to have a news story to report. Romney and Paul are somewhat immune to these problems because they were already attacked in the last election and there just isn’t much new to attack them with. Their names are already out there and they have a base of support in place, so they don’t need the big performance to gain a position in the rankings. They just need to not trip over themselves and wait it out until the primaries get closer and they start spending the piles of money they built up. Everyone else has an uphill battle and has as much to fear from sudden success as from a major mistake.

With so many primaries happening so close together and so early in the year, a late entrant could ride the newcomer media hype to a handful of early victories. Then, by absorbing the staff and network of candidates who are forced to drop out, basically walk into a national campaign with enough time remaining to still effectively raise funds for the general election in November. This would not work for just any random candidate, but there are some big names who stayed out who have the skills, policy knowledge and connections to pull it off if they time it right. A December entry could steal the nomination.

I’m not saying that is what should happen, will happen or would be desirable. It is just that the old logic that there is a time after which a new campaign cannot succeed is very likely no longer valid. Like it or not, the media does manipulate public opinion in elections. Playing the media against itself may be a better strategy than traditional campaigning. After all, then Sen. Obama had nothing to offer on policy or experience, but the media carried him to victory. The media may be generally against conservatives, but they just can’t help themselves from hyping anyone new. Even if the hype is full of negatives, it raises the recognition of that candidate and usually results in a rise in the polls – at least until the hype dies down or the candidate withers under the spotlight.

A well-timed late entrant would face significant challenges, but could play the media hype into a surge in the polls just in time for it to translate into real votes. I’m sure Rick Perry wishes the early primaries had been in August when he was the talk of the town. Had they been, he’d probably be in this against Romney alone instead of falling back into a still crowded pack. The lack of consensus on a candidate and the infighting between them during the debates could be justification enough for one of the big names that decided not to run many months ago (when Obama looked stronger) to reconsider and come in to ‘unify the party against Obama’. While such an entry would never work if it came this month or in November, it could potentially play in December – especially if the field doesn’t slim down between now and then.

Second Thoughts?Who could pull off this last minute capture of the early primaries and the nomination? There are two that immediately come to mind: Haley Barbour and Mitch Daniels. Conversely, two names that couldn’t pull it off are Sarah Palin and Chris Christie. They both bowed out too recently to change their minds so soon. Barbour and Daniels could be ‘drafted’ back in if they plan such an effort. They are not the only ones, but the ones with the best name recognition (Daniels) and existing connections (Barbour) to generate the necessary media hype and channel it into sudden victories. With the voters still divided, no real excitement for the ‘inevitable candidate’ and a compressed primary schedule, there may never be a better time than December to capture the race without having to face the withering pressure of public scrutiny of every minor decision they ever made. With so many of the big names that got out early still sitting silently and not endorsing anyone, one has to wonder if they are pondering the same thing I am. But, only one could pull it off. If two jumped in, they would both lose. If Barbour and Daniels go to dinner, Romney should start to worry.

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