Road to the White House, Michele Bachmann Edition
On Tuesday afternoon (May 31st), I will be participating in the fourth edition of WKXL News Radio’s (103.9 FM, 1450 AM) Road to the White House series at 12:30 p.m. at the Barley House (Main St., directly across from the Statehouse). Our guest will be Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. I will once again join Chris Ryan and Ovide Lamontagne for the hour-long taping featuring Rep. Bachmann. The show will be broadcast on WKXL on Wednesday morning at 10 a.m., and again at 6 p.m. I hope to see you at the live event on Tuesday.
Note: Have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend. I will be back posting on Wednesday, June 1st. -Dean
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I Don't Think So, Joe
Perhaps the most conventional of conventional wisdom in this election cycle has been the idea that at least some serious Republican contenders have forgone entering the current presidential race, in order to wait for a clear shot at a vacant presidency in 2016. This scenario of course implies that should President Obama win reelection, Vice President Biden would pass on his own turn as the Democratic nominee, instead choosing to retire from politics.
While it is true that the vice presidency sometimes serves as a holding place for a party’s presidential heir apparent (often the runner-up to the nominee), it has also recently offered a president the opportunity to bring in a seasoned politician as a close advisor, even if that vice president did not have the political juice to make a run for the nomination on his own. Biden clearly fulfills this second role for President Obama. I think it is fair to say that left on his own as a candidate in 2008, Biden had no chance of catching either Obama or Hillary Clinton.  This is why (in addition to the issue of Biden’s age) observers (including myself) have typically written him off as a presidential nominee in 2016.
Well, apparently Biden doesn’t see things quite this way, as he recently managed to surprise a group of Democratic donors in Cincinnati with the personal request that, assuming Obama’s return to the White House in 2012, he not be dismissed as a potential nominee in 2016. I don’t know how seriously to take this comment, but if Biden were to express real interest in the nomination, it would certainly delay the Democratic Party’s ability to cultivate the new crop of potential nominees it needs at the national level. I also don’t know how competitive Biden (at age 70) would be against what could be a young and energetic group of Republican presidential hopefuls (think Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, etc.).
My hunch is that Biden would retire, and I think there would be significant pressure from within the party hierarchy for him to do so. But Biden no doubt still has sufficient political pride to want to be shown at least a little deference in the tradition of presidential succession.
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In the Hunt(s), Man
When President Obama appointed former Republican Utah Governor Jon Huntsman to be Ambassador to China in 2009, the conventional wisdom at the time among political observers was that Obama was doing so primarily to take Huntsman out of the running for his party’s presidential nomination in 2012, or to at least make his path onto the ticket a lot more complicated. After watching Huntsman’s recent five-day visit to New Hampshire, I would say that complicated is indeed the operative word here, and this is only partially due to the former governor’s ambassadorial affiliation with a Democratic president against whom he would be running in the general election.
Since I don’t have a wealth of prior experience with Huntsman as a politician, my initial impression of him will have to suffice for the moment. The issue of name recognition aside, Huntsman strikes me as a polished and handsome, yet slightly wonkish, establishment politician who could conceivably do well with the Granite State moderates and independents who are likely vote in the New Hampshire Primary’s Republican contest in large numbers next winter. But I can’t think of a more awkward political fit in terms of cool temperament and moderate ideology with the fiery movement conservatives who have been the lifeblood of the Tea Party over the past few years, and who will likely drive the discourse at the grassroots in a number of other key primary and caucus states.
So, perhaps Huntsman will be just the candidate to get institutional elites in the Republican establishment out of their Tea Party-induced defensive crouch, but I just don’t know if that is a battle they can win in this election cycle. Still, my guess is that if Huntsman decides to run, given his candidate profile, we will be seeing a lot of him around the Granite State in the coming months.
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Motivational Speaker
My thanks to those of you who have emailed me recently to inquire about my uncharacteristically sporadic posting schedule over the past few months. Fear not, all is well (if busy) in and around I will resume my usual daily posting schedule on Monday, May 23rd.
While there has been much candidate Sturm und Drang in the Republican primary in recent weeks, the fundamental reality remains essentially unchanged. Unless Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, or former Utah Governor and Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman can pull off some sort of white knight entry into the race, this primary will be all about whether movement conservatives in the activist base of the Republican Party can get comfortable with the idea of Mitt Romney as their nominee. It should be an entertaining ride (even without Donald Trump), so I hope you will stop back here often. See you on Monday. -Dean
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The Barbour Shop is Closed
I would be remiss if I did not comment on the recent announcement by Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour that he will not seek the Republican nomination for president in 2012. You may recall that almost one year ago, I named Barbour as the inaugural member of my list of presidential hopefuls who will not be the Republican nominee for president in 2012. That prediction has now been borne out by events. The list has since grown to include other conservative luminaries including Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Michele Bachmann, among others.
While I never wavered in my initial assessment that there was no chance Barbour would be the party’s nominee in 2012, I had recently come to believe from watching him that he could at least run a credible campaign in New Hampshire. Barbour appeared quite comfortable as he made the political rounds up here, and he even seemed game to figure out how a Southern governor with a serious drawl might make a retail politics connection with Granite Staters. Barbour is a veteran political operator, however, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that he ultimately arrived at an accurate read on his own viability as a nominee, but I was just a little bit.
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