Anyway, there’s serious business to conduct, what with the presidential election a mere 480ish days away. Fourteen hopefuls have formally declared for the GOP this cycle, each hoping to accomplish something that’s only been done once in the past 100 years—defeat an incumbent Democratic president.
There are eight “serious” candidates for the job: Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. Each candidate has a strength or two, but does the GOP have a complete player on the roster yet? Signs point to no, but let’s handicap anyway.
Michele Bachmann (odds: 50-1 )—If you’re looking for the charisma candidate of 2012, look no further than the brash House Rep from Minnesota. She gives a good speech, isn’t stingy with the red-meat rhetoric and isn’t too hard on the eyes, but you know what I see when I look at Michele Bachmann? Howard Dean. Same firebrand style, same populist popularity—but just as likely as Dean to be caught screaming like a mad (wo)man on stage, torpedoing her own candidacy via YouTube.
Herman Cain (odds: 100-1)—Herman Cain’s candidacy is comparable to the pizza his Godfather’s chain dishes out: substandard. I had his pie growing up in Florence, Ala., and even my eight-year-old palette was offended. Just as offended as most reasonably tolerant Americans must have been when he implied during the New Hampshire debate that Muslims—all Muslims—were trying to kill us.
Newt Gingrich (odds: 60-1)—Newt Gingrich has been married three times, had at least two high-profile extramarital affairs, allegedly served his first wife divorce papers in her hospital bed, allegedly shut down the government over a personal beef he had with then-President Clinton and racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt to Tiffany and Co. And that’s just the stuff we know about.
Jon Huntsman (odds: 15-1)—Far and away the GOP’s strongest candidate, Jon Huntsman has to find a way to get the Republican establishment—moreover, the establishment’s money—in his coffers. He’s a centrist, he doesn’t appear to be crazy, he looks presidential and he’s got a solid gov ernmental and foreign policy resume. A clear choice, much like John McCain was back in 2008, and like McCain, he’s hardly a darling of the evangelical community (ahem, he’s Morman).
Ron Paul (odds: 1000-1)—Ron Paul is such an enigma. One minute he’s making a very cogent argument with regard to the military-industrial complex, the next he’s saying we should abolish the Fed and cancel FEMA aid to storm victims. Ahh, the rub of being a libertarian. He’s got a rabidly devoted fan base, but the establishment won’t touch him.
Rick Santorum (odds: 30-1)—If there’s one candidate that the right-wing Evangelicals would bleed for, it’s Rick Santorum—without a doubt the most conservative mainstream GOP candidate in the pile. And, as you would expect from that qualifier, he’s just plain weird. Now look, I’m not married and I don’t have any kids (much less seven like the Santorums), and if I ever had a child that died two hours after birth, I’m not sure how I would react. Even still, I’m not likely to take the dead infant home with me, introduce it to my other children, sing lullabies to it, hold a private mass and then sleep with it overnight. That happened, folks...and it’s just plain weird.
Tim Pawlenty (odds 25-1)—Here’s a rule of presidential politics: In a debate, it’s better to come off crazy than come off weak. Weakness never, never, never scores points for a presidential candidate. When Tim Pawlenty was given an opportunity to confront Mitt Romney in the New Hampshire debate regarding a scathing attack he had levied on Romney the day prior, Pawlenty declined to engage. It was a watershed moment. Look, if you don’t have the stones to stand up to Mitt Romney— Mitt Romney!—how are you going to fare on the worldwide diplomatic front? You’ll be more useless than the stroke-addled Woodrow Wilson. Vladimir Putin and his massive pecs will crush you like a grape! And, finally...
Mitt Romney (odds: 10-1)—Mitt’s the odds-on favorite right now, but that’s only because he’s got all the money. He’s Hillary Clinton in the summer of 2007: Just a flawed, sitting duck, waiting for Jon Huntsman to take him down. Look, Mitt, you suck as a GOP candidate and here’s why: First, you’re Mormon. I don’t care how much you try to assimilate yourself into the Christian community... Mormon ain’t Christian. It’s a whole different religion, and the fundies ain’t hip to whole different religions. Second, you used to be just as liberal as Barack Obama. You used to be pro-choice, pro-civil unions, pro-environment and pro-government health care. You can pander all you want, but that’s all documented truth. Think the GOP voters have forgotten all that? Maybe, but the Obama campaign will be certain to remind them in the event that they have.
“PolySigh” is a weekly political column by Matt Hooper. Send your feedback to email@example.com.