Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Handicapping '08, Part 2: The Republicans

As I alluded to yesterday, the biggest problem with the GOP field right now is that there's nobody who seems "the annointed" for the next nomination. The Republicans are known for giving the guy who has been "waiting his turn" a shot. Both Bushes were "the next guy." So was Dole. So was Reagan, really. This year, there's no such guy. There are, however, the three front-runners:

John McCain gets the biggest poll numbers nowadays. I voted for him over Bush in the 2000 primaries. But he will be 72 if he wins... the same age Reagan, our oldest president, was... in his 2nd term. One of the best lines I ever heard about McCain (wish I remembered who to give the credit to) is: "He's a great American, an OK senator, and a lousy Republican." It seems odd that the GOP front-runner in '08 is a guy who is best known for sticking a thumb in the eye of the GOP base. I don't know, but it's hard to imagine that same base (the folks who actually show up at primaries) just letting him waltz in to the general election.

Next is Rudolph Giuliani. I think the last mayor to be president was Grover Cleveland (mayor of Buffalo, NY, with a brief stop as Governor in Albany first). Rudy also presents problems. His supprters say that in these difficult times, his leadership in NYC and especially after 9/11 will trump the social issues and personal (marital) problems that would otherwise resonate with the GOP base. I wonder if maybe they shouldn't poll different folks for primaries and the general: I could see a Rudy winning the election, but just not getting nominated.

Finally, Mitt Romney. Have you heard he's Mormon? Supposedly, that's the reason he can't win with the evangelical group. He's the one I'm intrigued with on the GOP side... I don't know if I'm a "typical" evangelical, but he seems to agree with me more on most issues than a McCain or a Rudy. The whole market-based health care system in Massachusetts is cool to me, as is his opposition to gay marriage as an example of judicial overreach, without coming across as a gay-hater (if ever I feel really brave, I may tackle THAT issue in the blog...don't hold your breath). He seems to me to be the Obama of the right--the guy who upsets the apple-cart and breaks the mold. He is a distant third right now, but I wonder if that might change. What could kill Romney is any candidate to his right (Brownback, for example) who hurts him in the primaries but himself can't win the general. We'll have to see how that plays out.

So, here's where we stand: conventional wisdom (at least at the present) pits Hillary against McCain. I'm out here on a limb saying Obama vs. Romney. Before you call Vegas and post your bets, though, you should know that no candidate I have ever supported in a primary has gone on to be president, so take my predictions with a grain of salt.

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