Bill Kristol, a former staff member for Vice President Dan Quayle, and a frequent Fox News contributor had a beauty of a column the other day in The Weekly Standard.
Kristol acknowledged that he had made a bet with another writer that the 2012 GOP nominee would come from a player who is not yet in the contest. I tend to agree with Kristol. The current field is too weak. Mitt Romney can never separate himself from Romneycare. He's waiting to get dumped at the altar by primary voters.
Let's take a look at who Kristol thinks are the 5 power players for 2012.
TEXAS GOVERNOR RICK PERRY
Now, to be honest, I am 100% a Perry supporter. I donated to his campaign for Governor in 2010 and met him personally at CPAC in February 2011 (photo) . I honestly think his personal style of being a tough-talking Texan who hates the out-of-control Federal government is a major contrast to that of Barack Obama. Also, his record of guiding Texas to stellar growth and jobs increases over the last ten years gives him the economic argument that he would be better for the U.S. in the White House. I am saying this now....if Rick Perry is the GOP Nominee in 2012, Perry wins easily. However, Perry isn't in the race yet, and it is only 50/50 that he will jump in. My biggest reason for believing he will get in? Two things. He hates Obama. And he's been Governor of Texas for 10 years. That is one of the best jobs in America. There is really no other place for him to go.
FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR SARAH PALIN
What else needs to be said about Sarah Palin? She has almost 100% name recognition. She tends to be polarizing. People either love her or hate her. I love her. I think she is great. I don't think she is perfect as a Presidential candidate, but she is good enough to win some primaries. My prediction right now is that she is going to run, but that she will finish in second or third place to someone else. However, she could catch fire and take off and win the nomination and the White House, but several things would have to happen for that end result to come about. It is not as impossible as the biased media would have you believe. Barack Obama has already lost 22 states in the 2012 election before the first votes have been cast. Some of the states like Florida and Indiana and North Carolina -- all of which he won by less than 2% of their vote -- are not going to go for him next time.
FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR JEB BUSH
This big name is the 800 pound gorilla in the room. Bush 41 and Bush 43 won three out of the four Presidential elections they were involved in. Not bad odds if you are desperately looking for someone to beat Obama. I was at the fancy CPAC dinner with Mitch Daniels. He bored me. The people at my table were big power players...influential donors. They kept talking about Jeb Bush for 2012. How he could speak Spanish. How smart he was. I have to admit, they made some very good arguments for Bush. I told them I was a little worried that some voters might be tired of voting for a Bush, but they said that issue would disappear over the course of the election. I have to admit. They might be right. He might be a good choice for the GOP. I'm not the biggest fan of his, but I don't know much about him or his record. But there is no denying that if he jumps into the race, he immediately is near the very top.
NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE
(photo at top)
I got to see Chris Christie up close at a Meg Whitman event in 2010. He is one of the dream candidates for the GOP in 2012. I have to admit that I'm not 100% sold on Christie. I think he's a gun-grabber and also he is weak against Islam. But he is a big favorite with the GOP because of his personal leadership style. Christie has been caught on video repeatedly being confrontational with teachers and unions...basically telling them that they are not getting what they want. Republican voters love this... and it drives them into a frenzy about a potential Christie candidacy. Donors and volunteers are salivating at the chance to go to work for him. A Christie candidacy could also potentially flip the blue state of New Jersey red, which would be catastrophically damaging to Obamas chances in 2012. I don't think Christie is perfect, but I'm fine with him being the choice in 2012. I think he wins going away.
CONGRESSMAN PAUL RYAN
Even though Ryan is from my home state of Wisconsin, this is actually the one choice of Kristols that I don't want to see in the 2012 race. Ryan has become kind of a de facto leader of the GOP with his budget plan. But I don't view that as being an accident. Notice how they always call it the RYAN budget plan in the media? I think Ryan has been secretly scheming to move up in politics. I think people in the GOP are going to draft him if they don't like the other choices. Ryan is good on TV, and I could see him winning the White House. I just don't like his record of compromising and voting for TARP and other ridiculous big government ideas. I would prefer to see Ryan run for the Wisconsin Senate seat that Herb Kohl is retiring from.
One other choice that is curiously absent from Kristols list is Florida Senator Marco Rubio.
Rubio has a solid Conservative ideology, a beautiful young family, and he is great on TV.
The media acted like he was like a rock star at CPAC 2010.
I think if the GOP puts up Marco Rubio in 2012, then he wins going away.
It wouldn't even be close.
That is something to think about.