Saturday, August 10, 2002

The Next GOP President- Part I-The 2008 Primary Players-Patrick Ruffini has a good post on the topic. He leads off with Dick Chaney as a 6:1 favorite. I think there's little chance he'll get elected president, but that's not stated part of Ruffini's hypothesis. If there's a 5% chance that Chaney will win the 2008 election and a 10% chance of Bush being assassinated in the next six years, you're at Patrick's 6:1 odds. As for the other candidates, let's work on the assumption that Dubya gets his second term. The first question is whether Chaney's on the ticket in 2004. There's a open move among the punditry to have Chaney replaced with National Security Council chair Condi Rice. If so, she would be the heiress apparent going into the 2008 elections, assuming a victory in 2004. However, she's seen as a bit too pro-choice on abortion, which would make her a tough sell in a Republican primary. Who would be likely candidates to oppose Rice in 2008? Or, if we have a two-term Chaney, who will emerge as the front-runners? Generally, you see presidents coming from three areas: senators, governors and war heroes, with the occasional vice president thrown in; we can focus our attention on those areas. Here are my 2008 Baker's Dozen (and their estimated chances of getting the nomination), in alphabetical order. Sen. George Allen(7.5%)-A solid, generic conservative with a pleasant, somewhat laid-back demeanor. Dubya 2.0? I don't see people tearing down barricades to support him, but he could easily emerge as a consensus candidate among the party regulars. For now, he flunks the bumper-sticker test: who's going to put the guy's bumper sticker on their car? Can we borrow from his dad for the sticker?-"George Allen-The Future is Now." AG John Ashcroft(2.5%)-He was putting out feelers for a run four years ago, but had zero name recognition then. Not so now. He could merge the Christian conservative vote with a law-and-order vote to win in the primaries. However, he's a bit stiff to be a good general-election candidate and a bit too easy for the left to caricature. Thus, more pragmatic sorts might look for less of a lightning-rod to be the standard-bearer. Gov. Jeb Bush(7.5%)-A successful two-term former (he'll be term-limited in 2006) governor of Florida would be high on the short-list were he not the president's brother. I don't see the party nominating Jeb to succeed Dubya, but stranger things have happened. He'll have the family Rolodex to fall back on, so if he does run, he'll not be short of funds. As an ex-governor in 2007, he'll be able to stump the country without having to worry about signing off on executions or making line-item vetoes. Sen. Bill Frist (2.5%)-Well-spoken conservative who comes across well on TV. However, he seems to be too much of a compromiser to be palatable in a GOP primary. He'd more likely to be the next Majority Leader than the next president. Former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani (5%)- Loosly defined, his post-9-11 work as mayor will put him in the war hero column. His centrism will be hard to sell, but if Condi's not in the race, he would have a shot of patching together a center-left coalition within the party, especially if he runs on a low-tax and law-and-order platform. The pro-lifers will have nothing of it and some of us haven't forgotten his backing of Cuomo over Pataki, but he's got an outside shot. Future Sen. Lindsey Graham (7.5%)-I think he's one of the sleepers for 2008; the former congressman's running for Strom Thurmond's seat in South Carolina. I think his cheerful persona will get a few bumper stickers on cars and his face on some talk shows in the next few years. Being a smart conservative Southerner will give him an edge on Super Tuesday while not being written off as a cracker by northerners. 2008 might be a bit early, but I can see him on a ticket in the next decade. Future Gov. Steve Largent(10%)- Another sleeper. The Seahawk Hall-of-Fame possession receiver became a solid conservative evangelical congressman; he resigned to run for Governor of Oklahoma. He's a very likable guy and comes across well on TV. A successful term-and-a-half as governor will give him a good shot in the primaries. Might be a tad too evangelical for the general election, but I think the GOP primary voters may take that chance. Another Dubya 2.0 possibility. Sen. John McCain(2.5%)- His chances of getting to the White House would be better as a Independence party candidate. He did well in 2000 and could bring out the Straight Talk Express for one more run. He'd have to mend quite a few fences in the next five years to be nominatable, for all his maverick stands have made him the most disliked Republican in punditdom. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice (25%)-This is conditional to her being VP coming into 2008. She'll have to move towards a RIMLID (rape, incest, mother's life in danger) stance on abortion rights to get the nomination. However, the opportunity to elect a sharp-as-a-tack black gal will move some of the more conservative party faithful to ignore that. Her jobs trumps the notion that a woman will be soft on military matters. It would gall Democrats to no end that the first woman and first black to be elected president will be a Republican; the heavy schadenfreude from that thought alone is worth 5% in the primaries. Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge(2.5%)-Another moderate dream candidate. He almost became the VP candidate in 2000, but his abortion-rights stance and centrist voting record as a congressman made him unpalatable to the party faithful. If you're going to win the nomination as a pro-choicer, you're going to have to sell the RIMLIDs on something, and I don't know what that will be. Rudy better fits that part of the political ecosystem. Sen. Rick Santorum (15%)-He's my biggest sleeper. A likeable conservative from a swing state. From a tactical perspective, he might be the party's best bet if Chaney's still VP in 2008. I remember going to Pittsburgh in the fall of 1994 during his first Senate campaign to do research; he was winning the bumper-sticker war going away over then-senator Wofford. He could be a playa in the race. Future Gov. Bill Simon(5%)- His election (and reelection in 2006) are no sure things, but a successful two-term conservative California governor would be hard to beat in the primaries. He still has to get past the Gray Gentleman in November to stay on this list. He’s not the Gipper on the stump, but neither is Dubya. Congressman J.C. Watts (2.5%)-One of the party’s best speakers and highest-profile elected black Republican, Watts is on a lot of people’s short lists. He may not have the temperament to be a national candidate. If he wanted to make successful run in 2008, he’ll have to find a bully pulpit to launch a campaign from, now that he’s retiring from Congress. I could see him filling an Alan Keyes single-digit niche in a primary, but without a place to gain national recognition, he’s in trouble. The Rest of the Field (5%)-Colin Powell's high on Patrick's list, but he's too old and too centrist to be nominatable; Condi's about to take that part of the ecosystem away from him. Mitt Romney's too centrist to grab the nomination. He'd have to be a libertarian dream in Taxachusetts to have a shot. I don’t see either Pataki or Hutchison getting the nomination as pro-choicers.

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