Okay, now for a little bit of calibration. Yesterday I stated a fact, that Sarah Palin is the front runner for the GOP in 2012. That made some people happy and some people angry. It doesn’t have to remain that way. But whether you like it or not it is a fact. And being front runner is an advantage.
You say, wait a minute. Edmund Muskie and John Conally were front runners too. But the times are different. Because so many big states have gotten in on the action and moved their primaries and caucuses early it takes money, lots of money to win. Retail politicking once created a Jimmy Carter but he couldn’t do it today. He would need money to buy television ads in New York, California and the South where he wouldn’t have time to shake enough hands.
Well, Rudolph Giuliani was a front runner last time. Yes, but because of the personal issues in his life he passed on Iowa where Christian activists would have demanded details. Notwithstanding the big states that loom soon after, the road to the nomination still passes through Dubuque and Davenport and Des Moines. You don’t have to win there but you better stop and say, “Hi.” Palin will be strong in Iowa which is an Evangelical state.
But isn’t Mike Huckabee also an Evangelical Christian who won Iowa last time? Yes but he is a Southern Baptist, who hailed from the moderate theological wing of the SBC and thus had opposition from some of its leaders. It wasn’t fair. I’m not saying it was pretty but it is a fact. It is partly why he got beat in South Carolina where a SBC leader of influence turned his back on him. And anyway Iowa is a Pentecostal – Charismatic state. They went with Huckabee last time when there was no other Evangelical to choose from but this time they have Sarah Palin who shares their same background. Pentecostal-Charismatics make up 51% of the born again vote. (See sources below.) And then Huckabee has some real enemies in the economic conservatives’ camp, such as Rush Limbaugh. They will nag him all the way. But I am not through with Huckabee, he has a chance. There is a way he can win. I will be doing Huckabee soon.
And what about Mitt Romney? If Palin’s potential fundraising prowess is so important didn’t Mitt Romney raise more early money than any of them and lose anyway? Yes, but his money was not the problem. It was the baggage of his Massachusetts record of pro choice and gay rights which didn’t translate well in Iowa and the South. And then, Romney’s faith was a factor, which bigots in Iowa and the South used against him.
This time, Romney has a very good chance. His faith and flip flops are both diminished as issues. He remained consistent through the 2008 election cycle. But he will be facing Sarah Palin who is a skilled pugilist. And his big money credentials, which were a net plus last time, could be a bit of a drag this time around. The country is soured on big corporate bosses and hedge fund guys. Finally, there is South Carolina. Romney can’t get any traction there at all. He didn’t even try last time. And it is pretty hard to win the GOP nomination without South Carolina, which follow close on the heels of Iowa and New Hampshire and is the harbinger of how the South will vote. But I am not through with Mitt Romney either. I donated the max to him last time and he has a chance to win this. I will be doing Romney soon too.
Then there is Newt Gingrich. Friends on FOX TV will keep his name in the news and he will tease again about a presidential run and may even try it. Appearing in the debates is good for book sales and speaker’s fees. But Gingrich, like Giuliani, will have to answer questions about his personal life. Palin is a scrapper. She will not let such issues go untouched.
And finally there is Ron Paul. I am still in the middle of a Ron Paul blog series. He is positioned to win the “I told you so” award for what is happening in the economy and offers the most succinct economic and philosophic alternative to what we have been through and where we should now go. He leads a movement, has die hard supporters and can raise money. If the country falls apart and Palin and Huckabee get deadlocked in a battle for the Iowa Christians, Paul, himself a pro-lifer, could try an ambush. But Palin, will surely tag Paul with his views on legalizing Marijuana and fair or not, the boomlet could die because of it.
And that is part of the problem that all of Palin’s opponents have. She is tough. And this last campaign made her tougher. She can learn how to survive a thirty minute “gotcha” interview with a network anchor but no one can learn how to fight like that. That is inborn. And she has it. She will attack. Huckabee, Romney, Giuliani, Paul, none of them will get a free pass this time. And while such attacks make a white, male politician look mean, and they all better be careful about counterpunches, it makes Sarah Palin only look like “a hockey mom.”
Now, all of these are glib, quick observations. Actually, any one of the above can win the nomination. And add Tim Pawlenty, Charlie Crist and Bobby Jindal to the mix, although the latter might have to give up the governor’s mansion to do it, not likely. And then there is the unannounced billionaire who has yet to get in, the Bloomberg-Perot-Forbes type candidate, whose money and non political status makes him a player. He or she will be a factor simply because of the money.
If things go wrong for Barack Obama, and the media must allow someone to take his place, they may be more inclined toward Sarah Palin, whom they have already crucified once. It will be easier for them to let a woman follow the first African American president and not another white male.
Will she run? Absolutely, of course she will run, because the next time she may not be the front runner. It’s called “good stewardship.” It was how she was raised. It’s part of the Alaskan frontier culture. It’s a page out of Proverbs. If you are given something you better put it to use.
Now, it’s way too early, anything can happen, a nuclear terrorist attack on Washington, D.C.? And Jeb Bush could win. But again, barring the obscene, here are the Wead odds on the 2012 GOP nominee, dated this February, 2009, three years out and counting.
Sarah Palin 3-1
Mike Huckabee 9-1
Mitt Romney 12-1
Ron Paul 25-1
Newt Gingrich 33-1
Rudolph Giuliani 38-1
For figures on Baptists and Pentecostals-Charismatics see bottom of…