by John Hawkins | May 9, 2005 5:19 am
Here’s some analysis of the current top 6 candidates for the GOP nomination in 2008. Could things change? Sure, it’s still 2005 after all! But it’s not too early to engage in a little speculation…
1) Rudy Giuliani: Rudy could fairly be called the front runner at this point based on his tough on crime reputation, his performance after 9/11, the great work he did on the campaign trail during the 2004 election cycle, and his charisma.
However, Rudy’s weaknesses, which are largely unknown to the base, will likely destroy his candidacy. Giuliani is pro-abortion, pro-gun control, pro-gay marriage and is divorced from a woman who accused him of “open and notorious adultery”.
Once the cat is out of the bag, it’s hard to imagine Rudy winning the Republican primaries where the voters tend to be considerably more conservative than the general population.
2) John McCain: McCain gave Bush a scare early on in the 2000 Republican primaries, he probably gets more favorable press than any other Republican, he has a reputation as a moderate, he has earned respect for his time spent in a Vietnamese prison camp, and he has a small, but enthusiastic group of supporters in the Republican Party.
The flip side of this is that McCain is probably more despised by conservatives than any other Republican in Washington. That fact that McCain is often perceived by conservatives to be a “Republican in name only” who publicly undercuts the Party on important issues just to gain favorable press won’t help. Neither will McCain’s very soft stance on illegal immigration, his age (he’ll be 72 in 2008), or the McCain-Feingold legislation which was widely disliked by the base.
From the moment McCain announces his candidacy on, expect the attacks on him from the conservative media to be savage and relentless. That will probably make it impossible for him to win the nomination.
3) Bill Frist: Frist is a doctor, a solid conservative, and the Senate Majority Leader. Given that, it’s hard to count him out.
However, Frist is also perceived as being uncharismatic and less than effective as Senate Majority leader. Of course, that perception could change if and when he pushes through the nuclear option in the Senate.
Frist probably won’t be a favorite going into the primaries, but if McCain & Giuliani falter, Frist could be the man who picks up the pieces.
4) George Allen: Allen has been around the block. Not only is he currently a Virginia Senator, he’s also a former Governor & former Congressman. Allen, who’s regarded as a staunch conservative, got an early boost by winning a National Journal survey of 215 political insiders on whom they predict will be the nominee in 2008.
That’s not to say the road is clear for Allen. He is up for reelection in 2006 and the word is that popular Democratic Governor Mark Warner might challenge him for his seat. Were he to lose, that would mean the end of his presidential aspirations. Furthermore, since Allen isn’t comparatively as big a name as McCain, Frist, & Giuliani, he’ll have a bit of an uphill road capturing top talent and endorsements.
Still, Allen could fairly be said to be in the same position as Frist: If McCain & Giuliani drop the ball, Allen could be in a position to take the nomination — especially if the base doesn’t warm to Frist.
5) Bill Owens: The Colorado Governor is a popular, charismatic, & rock ribbed conservative. His separation from his wife of 30 years for unknown reasons was considered to be a serious negative, but after a year and a half plus, they just reconciled late last week.
Assuming Owens and his wife work things out long-term, he will be a candidate capable of capturing the nomination. However, Owens, like Allen, may have trouble building an organization and pulling in donations because of his low name identification in the Party. But again, if Giuliani & McCain implode, Owens is another candidate who could be right in the thick of the fray.
6) Tom Tancredo: Although the congressman from Colorado is flying under the radar for a lot of Republicans, he has a small, but enthusiastic base of support in the Republican Party because of his relentless opposition to illegal immigration. In my opinion, that makes him a stronger candidate than most people realize.
On the other hand, Tancredo is also strongly disliked by Republicans who are soft on illegal immigration and would have a hard time riding one issue to the nomination. In other words, to have a chance, Tancredo would probably need to convince the base he has rounded out his resume a bit.
Tancredo is definitely a longshot candidate, but he’s probably a more viable candidate than some of the bigger name, but less conservative, Republican governors from liberal states who’ve drawn more ink up to this point.
Not Running (That Could Always Change)
Jeb Bush, Dick Cheney, Condi Rice: All three would be strong candidates for the nomination, but they’re all — convincingly — claiming that they don’t intend to run at the moment.
Some Other Potential Candidates At This Point:
Haley Barbour, Sam Brownback, Bob Ehrlich, Ernie Fletcher, Steve Forbes, Newt Gingrich, Chuck Hagel, Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty, George Pataki, Tom Ridge, Mitt Romney, Mark Sanford, & Rick Santorum.
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