Place Yer Bets
6 November 2011
We are one year out and I am going to break down the 2012 election.
Those who I served with at Roycemore Juvenile Reformatory School knew I was active in politics. I was always looking for a debate on the issues. I loved the electoral process, I even ran for statewide office in State Youth and Government. My slogan was “Deal with Neil.” I won by a landslide against three other candidates (263-70-52-34).
In the later part of my senior year, I read “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail of 1972.” Dr. Hunter S. Thompson’s revelatory book on the most important campaign ever, of that year. I was struck by how honestly he was writing. He developed the Gonzo style with that book. Of course, before he pulled the book together, it was serialized in the pages of Rolling Stone magazine. (Who else remembers seeing ads for term papers on the back pages?). Thompson seemed to be having the time of his life covering the greatest show on earth. The best part was at the end of the day, he didn’t owe anybody any favors. He did not have to sell his soul to grub for one vote. He never had to appear interested in the meanderings of some hick Iowa farmer who could control his political destiny. At the moment, I decided I wanted to be a political reporter.
I did get to cover the 1988 election, albeit from Chicago but the process of the coverage fascinated me. The discussions that the reporters had were not about who had the best ideals, who could affect the most change, who could improve their constituents lot in life. It was about who could win, how much momentum (Mo) they had going, and would upset the apple cart. Handicapping the candidates is the sport of campaign reporters, that and padding their expense reports.
This summer the Grand Old Party saw eight candidates enter the race. Each time a new one entered, they were the immediate front-runner. The party faithful fawned all over the candidate thinking this was the chosen one who would help them re-take what is rightfully theirs – The White House. After the candidate spoke, participated in a debate or had their previous quotes come back, they faded. Some, like Tim Pawlenty a.k.a. T-Paw, never even made it to the starting gate, the Iowa Caucus. Then there was the non-candidate Sarah Palin. Where ever there was a republican event, announcement, debate etc, Palin and her magic bus was close enough to draw the mama grizzlies and media attention but far enough away for her to say she was not trying to steal that candidate’s big moment. According to GA state law, that is Class C felony called stalking. When shove finally gave way to push, Palin decided she would rather influence the election from the outside rather than running. So it goes.
There are eight candidates remaining. One has been running since 2007 and one since late this summer. As I announce them, you can play either of these two in your mind: The Dating Game or Eye in the Sky.
Michele Bachmann, U.S. Representative from Minnesota
Herman Cain, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO, former National Restaurant Association CEO, and businessman from Georgia
Newt Gingrich, former U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives from Georgia
Jon Huntsman, Jr., former U.S. Ambassador to China and former Governor of Utah
Gary Johnson, former Governor of New Mexico
Ron Paul, U.S. Representative from Texas
Rick Perry, Governor of Texas
Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts
Rick Santorum, former Senator from Pennsylvania
With all that firepower, party stalwarts are still hoping someone, anyone, will come forward and unite the party. The Republicans seem to think the perfect candidate is out there and they are convinced that this bunch is not it. Still, they must dance with one of them and several have had extended slow dances. As of this writing, Romney and Cain are neck and neck.
Michele Bachman, if you like Sarah Palin but think she is too serious, you will love Bachmann. She got a nice bump when she entered the race. Then she started talking and the term “batshit crazy” didn’t eve do her justice. She is polling in the low single digits.
In early summer, Cain was not even getting good numbers in the Cain household. His economic message has resonated with the Tea Party branch of the party and the rank and file. Granted, rank and file and republicans is an oxymoron. There is no such thing as a rank and file millionaire. Cain is a former radio host, CEO of a pizza chain, CEO of the national restaurant association, Federal Reserve head in Atlanta. If you were to interview him for a job, the first thing the manager would say is that Cain is a job-hopper. The recent sexual harassment charges have had little to no affect on his polling or fund-raising.
Jon Huntsman is an interesting character. He was Obama’s ambassador to China and he believes in science. He is a Mormon. If the party had a strong moderate contingent who voted, he would be their nominee. They didn’t and he won’t.
Newt Gingrich is the smartest of the bunch. In fact, he may be one of the smartest men to run for the office. He also has a history of cheating on his wives when they get sick. Will he do the same with the country? I say no! We can’t get any sicker can we? He is currently in the mid teens and in third place. He could step up should Cain fall by the way side.
Mitt (short for Mitterwald?)Romney has been the front-runner since November 5, 2008. He got a show on FOX, toured the country, made in-roads and yet only 27% of the republicans are in his camp. He is a well-known flip-flopper and he authored our country’s new health care plan that President Obama borrowed from liberally. Good luck explaining how the child you created and looks exactly like you is not yours. Romney is the former governor of Massachusetts and a Mormon, which means he will be great at ringing doorbells.
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Rick Perry came out like gangbusters; he was called George W. Bush 2.0. Then he talked. After the second debate he was called George W. Bush without the intelligence. His poll numbers are shrinking like Texas death row inmates.
Now the handicapping begins. It is really a three-horse race for the nomination between, Cain, Gingrich and Romney. Romney has been the front-runner, except during the tire-kicking phase of Bachmann, Cain and Perry. Recent polls suggest that Romney has the best chance of beating President Obama. Republicans are many things; dumb is not one of them. They want their White House back and whoever is the best person to accomplish that will be the nominee. In a recent AP Poll, Romney received 45% against Obama’s 48%. Cain vs. Obama is a six point Obama victory while Gingrich or Perry vs. Obama results in an Obama majority.
Now that all the primaries are so early, the nomination could be wrapped up on Super Tuesday, March 6, 2012. At that point, 20 states will have had their primaries. States like Florida, Texas, Massachusetts, Georgia and Ohio will be the big prizes. Florida and Texas are in the bag for Perry. Georgia will go for favorite son Cain. Romney will pick up Massachusetts and Ohio. Before that happens, we’ve got the two-bellwether states of Iowa and New Hampshire. No matter what current polling data says, both those states will go for Romney and that will set him down the yellow brick road. He may not have the actual delegates lined up by Super Tuesday then but once it seems that he is the only one who can win other states will follow in line.
Handicapping the vice president is much harder. No one runs for vice president. Republican presidential nominees are notorious for NOT picking a Veep candidate who also ran for president. The last time it was done was 1996 when Bob Dole picked Jack Kemp as Bob Dole’s running mate. Before that in 980 when Ronald Reagan, blessed be his name, picked George H. W. Bush. Right now, I am putting a small wager at long odds on Herman Cain to be Romney’s Veep selection. I am not saying bet the farm on this, just wager wisely, with whomever you make book.
Sure, a lot can change in the next few months. There are still 14 more debates scheduled, I am not kidding. Romney has not had the hard media glare on him, yet. Others have wilted under the strain and the barrage of “gotcha questions, like: did you sexually harass women at Godfathers Pizza. Once under the microscope Romney will have to come up with good answers on his ever-shifting stances on all the issue. Then there is the Mormon thing.
It’s going to be an interesting election cycle, and the best place to get the digested truth is Pure Gibberish.
Final note, Happy 18th Birthday to my nephew Nathan. When you see him, make sure you check out the ultra cool and hip time piece he is sporting.