I’m not trying to call for a truce, I’m not trying to belittle the social conservative issues. But I am saying from just a simple factual basis that clearly the 2012 Presidential Election will be dominated by economic issues. I am going to operate under the premise that our number one goal in this election is to defeat Obama, and as such we need the best candidate that can articulate the conservative position on fiscal issues.
Unemployment will be high in 2012, energy prices will be higher than Americans are comfortable with. The debt will be too much to sustain. ObamaCare will be unpopular. The middle east will be unstable and a threat to our national security. These are the variables I’m going to assume will be dominate next year. Abortion, gay rights, gun control, illegal immigration (except for the drug war problem), and public displays of religion will not be polling high on any of the key issues. Now that is not to say that we don’t want a candidate who is supportive of those social conservative issues, but it is to say that the most important thing is that our candidate be strongest on the economic issues.
So with that in mind, lets look at the potential candidates out there. I think that when it comes to economic issues, governors are going to have a huge advantage over senators or house representatives in that they will have a clear history of economic policies and then the results to judge them on. Its going to be very hard for any senator or rep to be able to make their case over one of the current or former governors when it comes to arguing that their theories will work while the governors will say I have the results to prove it. So now lets take a look at the governors themselves.
Romney is the front runner and should be strong on fiscal issues. Obviously the one dark cloud hovering over him is his health care program in Massachusetts and the similarities it has to Obamacare, this could be the kiss of death for his candidacy in the GOP primary.
Huckabee will once again get strong support from the social base. But his record on economic issues is very disturbing to most fi-cons and with those issues being the dominant factor I see him fading away much quicker this cycle than he did in 08.
Haley Barbour is someone that is underestimated. He is from the south with the southern draw, he was a career lobbyist. The MSM will eat up his comments on civil rights. He has some vulnerabilities in a GOP primary with his support for farm subsidies and use of Eminent Domain. But that being said, Barbour is a brilliant political tactician, he is very likable and he has a strong history of budget reform in Mississippi including medicaid and medicare. His Katrina response was seen as one of a great leader. In my mind he is the dark horse in this primary and is not to be forgotten.
Mitch Daniels has the resume that might send him to the front of the line. He, like Romney, has the private sector CEO experience and accomplishments that I think we are looking for. His heading of the office of management and budget under Bush will give him the inside knowledge and understanding of the budget process to offer something that can work. He is immensely popular in Indiana and has a history of conservative accomplishments. His downside is he made the truce statement, angering the so-cons. His leadership on the AWOL Indiana democrats can be questioned and he may prove to be a little bit too quirky to hold up in a long gruelling primary.
Tim Pawlenty has been flying under the radar, and that might be a good thing at this point. The MSM has not be able to nail him with a foot in mouth moment, at least not yet. He has a strong history of budget reform with results in a decidedly blue state. He is acceptable to all the different legs of the conservative movement. His record has some holes (who doesn’t) and he is not seen as a dynamic candidate but after getting Obama I’m not sure a great speech-maker is going to be what everyone is after again in 2012 so I think Pawlenty has a great shot at winning the nomination.
I think this is going to boil down to a Pawlenty, Daniels and Barbour race. Romeny and Huckabee have clear wounds that will be exploited and eventually the governors with results will be the ones I think that will rise to the top. Which ever one is able to best articulate his accomplishments and explain his perceived weaknesses will be the winner in 2012.