Skip to comments.And They're Off! (The 2008 GOP handicapping begins)
Posted on 01/27/2005 6:50:53 PM PST by RWR8189
TOO EARLY FOR REPUBLICANS TO fret about 2008? Never! Before last week's inaugural fireworks had even been lit, the handicapping of 2008 Republican hopefuls was well underway. GOP sources slice the potential '08ers into an A-list and a B-list. Here's a quick roundup of who's where, as President Bush kicks off Act Two. First the A-listers:
* John McCain. To conservative eyes, the Arizona senator has a lengthy rap sheet. McCain championed campaign-finance reform. He piqued the Christian Right in 2000. He opposed Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. He supports embryonic stem-cell research. And he's backed a host of other media-friendly issues--anti-tobacco legislation, a patients' bill of rights, gun control, CO2 emissions caps--that conservatives spurn.
But after the 2004 election, McCain's star is rising. He campaigned robustly for President Bush. That helped quash the residual bitterness of 2000. Also, McCain gave a superb speech at the Republican convention, in which he made a cogent case for the Iraq war. Still, his maverick bent will prove a burden. McCain's other big minus? He turns 72 in 2008. His big plus? Thanks to his Vietnam heroism and crossover appeal, he's the candidate Democrats fear most.
* Rudy Giuliani. It's hard to gauge how badly the Bernard Kerik fiasco hurts Giuliani long-term. On the one hand, the ex-mayor remains wildly popular and can thrill Republican crowds. On the other, Rudy's rivals will no doubt hang Kerik around his neck (along with Giuliani's two divorces and marital infidelity). But leave Kerik aside. Giuliani's true Achilles' heel is his social liberalism. He supports abortion rights--even partial-birth--and same-sex marriage. Ditto gun control. To win a GOP primary, Rudy must pipe up about his conservative strengths, namely, fighting bad guys at home and abroad. For no matter how weak his hand might appear, Giuliani still holds two aces: his remarkable transformation of New York City and his post-9/11 resiliency.
Of course, as memories of 9/11 recede, so might Giuliani's stature as "America's mayor." He could always boost his stock with a successful Senate or gubernatorial bid in 2006. Rudy "will be an early frontrunner," says one GOP insider. But "ultimately, I don't think he gets nominated."
* Bill Frist. Unlike Giuliani's and McCain's, Frist's fortunes are partly tied to President Bush. As Senate majority leader, Frist will earn credit--or blame--based on how much of the Bush agenda he shepherds through. If Bush gets tax, Social Security, or tort reform, it will be a feather in Frist's cap. He has a two-year window. Self-term limited, Frist won't seek reelection in 2006.
The Tennessee senator projects an amiable, mild demeanor. But he is no moderate Republican. Certainly in a three-way Giuliani-McCain-Frist race, Frist would stand out as a staunch conservative. He would also be the GOP establishment's choice. Frist may lack the dynamism and perceived toughness of Giuliani and McCain. But post-2004 election, he sounds hardened, especially when talking judges.
* Mitt Romney. He could be the sleeper candidate. Of all the A-listers, Romney is the only governor. And historically, as conservative activist Grover Norquist points out, "governors trump senators." Many governors lack real homeland security credentials--but not Romney. He can tout his work as chief of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. Nor is Romney a Massachusetts Republican in the William Weld mold. He's much more conservative, proposing hefty tax relief and bucking his state's highest court on same-sex marriage. Also, as a GOP insider notes, Romney is good on TV and "richer than Steve Forbes."
Romney's baggage? He's famously fuzzy on abortion. Primary voters won't like that. Then there's his faith. Will evangelical Christians pull the lever for a Mormon? An awkward question, but one Republicans have raised. Perhaps sensing this, Romney met with a gathering of evangelicals last week in Washington, before hosting a reception for Bay State natives serving in the Bush administration.
Now for the B-listers:
* Bill Owens. Colorado's governor once seemed a prime candidate. Conservatives loved him. He had taken on a bevy of Democratic interest groups and emerged triumphant. A September 2002 National Review cover story proclaimed Owens "America's Best Governor." Several months later, he pushed through a landmark school-voucher bill. Since then, however, Owens separated from his wife of almost 30 years. And in the 2004 election, Colorado Republicans took a thrashing, losing both houses of the state legislature. Owens can claim a slew of conservative feats. But he lacks a fundraising base, and his '08 prospects seem to be fading.
* Chuck Hagel. "Hagel has kind of fallen off the map," says a leading GOP strategist. Nebraska's maverick senator certainly strikes a unique pose. Hagel serves up red meat on abortion, taxes, guns, and spending, but also tends toward a dovish view of U.S. foreign policy. In 2002, he criticized Bush's "axis of evil" phrase as "name-calling" and rebuked the "rush to wage war" in Iraq. More recently, Hagel, a Vietnam vet, slammed Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld over the war's conduct. Such anti-Bush positions will hardly endear him to rank-and-file Republicans.
* George Allen. As one GOP insider puts it, Virginia's junior senator would be the "conservative's conservative" in the race, à la Phil Gramm in 1996. But whereas Gramm came across as a curmudgeon, Allen, 52, sports youthful good looks and an easygoing charm. He also boasts executive experience. Allen governed Virginia from 1994 to 1998. A reliable pro-life tax-cutter, he sits just to the right of George W. Bush. "Allen runs as Ronald Reagan," predicts Norquist.
* George Pataki. Not only is he the most liberal Republican in the '08 pool, Gov. Pataki also finds himself overshadowed by fellow New Yorker Rudy Giuliani. Pataki's only saving grace could be his home state. Were he able to deliver New York, that would cripple the Democrats. Otherwise, Pataki doesn't have much going for him.
This list is far from exhaustive. One of the most enticing--but very unlikely--candidates remains Dick Cheney. A few right-wingers have already pondered a quixotic "Draft Cheney" campaign, urging Bush's VP to throw his hat in the ring. Cheney has long disavowed any interest in the presidency. But with ample prodding, and a solid second term for Bush, who knows?
Then, of course, there's Florida governor Jeb Bush, whom the Economist calls "the best candidate by far." Jeb has publicly ruled out a White House bid in 2008. But his paper trail makes him a conservative glamour boy. The genial Jeb is a pro-life, pro-voucher, tax-slashing, budget-trimming Reaganite. Absent a marquee '08er, Republicans will look favorably on Gov. Bush--and wish he had a different last name.
Duncan Currie is an editorial assistant at The Weekly Standard.
Where is Condi rice?
I don't know who it will be, other than a Governor from the South or West.
When you look at that list, Sen. Allen stands head and shoulders above the rest (do we really want a president named "mitt"?)
I like Mitt Rommney and Allen.....
Please, NO Senator candidates (unless they have also spent considerable time recently in some executive position - preferably as a state governor). Also forget mayors.
The only ones I would even consider are George Allen and Jeb Bush. If I would want someone who agrees with murdering babies in the womb, I would vote Democrat.
haha......can't be much worse than a last name like "Bush"
My initial reaction: None of the above. Blech!
History does not favor single, childless, women.
If Frist stomps the obstructionist Democrats for the next two years and then retires, he'll be the prohibitive front-runner. But if he doesn't, he should just go back to the Operating Room.
Best win ticket would be Bush-Allen.
All I can say is that a "Pro-Choice" GOP will NOT get the Nomination.
I have suggested Donald Rumsfeld lately?
OK, then, let me suggest....Donald Rumsfeld.
the country will not elect another Bush on the heels of a two term Bush 43.
Sanford/Tancredo or Tancredo/Sanford.
I still think Lamar Amexander might run, if his heart is in it.
Senator Sanctorum will run, if he wins re-election, but he's more likely a VP pick for someone to pick up there conservative credentials.
My sleeper is Senator Coryn from Texas, he's got a unique style and he scares the bejesus out of liberals and folks on lefty sights, they think he can kill'em. If they fear him, I like him.
Lets not count out any other governors who are being a bit quiet now, but will pop out of nowhere in 2007, if Sanford is one of those guys, he'll set the race on fire.
Romney and Owens have no chance anymore.
Another sleeper pick, the good ole governor from the state of Minnesota, and look out for a possible run from that states current junior senator.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.