Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ranking Republican leaders

This is a good presentation of who Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post believes the top 10 Republican candidates are for the 2012 Presidential election. Bare in mind, WAPO is a left leaning news organization and may show some liberal bias in their presentation. But, interesting anyway.

10. John Thune: As South Dakota's March 30 filing deadline approaches, expect the chatter about Thune as a presidential candidate to increase. The South Dakota Republican has yet to draw a Democratic opponent of any kind and his team wants to be careful that he stays focused on the re-elect race for the next month to avoid one emerging from the woodwork. Assuming no one serious steps forward to take on Thune this fall, expect him to pivot sometime this spring to at least weigh the possibility of a presidential bid. (Previous ranking: 6)

9. Mitch Daniels: The Indiana Governor confirmed to the Post's Dan Balz what lots of insider already knew: he is open to the possibility of running for president. And, Daniels has quite the story to tell: he succeeded in Indiana even as the party was imploding nationally thanks to a de-emphasis on partisanship and a results-driven governing style. (That approach is far more easily executed on the state level than the federal level, of course.) Daniels will also now compete with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for the mantle of "ideas" candidate so look for him to grow his issue portfolio on the national stage in the coming months. (Previous ranking: N/A)

8. Newt Gingrich: Gingrich has been somewhat quiet of late but there is no doubt that he wants to be a major player within the party heading into 2010/2012. Gingrich said in an interview with Hotline's On Call blog that he and his wife, Calista, were "trying to organize our activities to be in a position to make a decision [about running for president] in February or March [of '11]." Gingrich also told Hotline that he is forming a federal PAC designed to donate to candidate for office this November -- the surest sign yet that he is working to build the infrastructure to run nationally. (Previous ranking: N/A)

7. Marco Rubio: Rubio's speech at CPAC was one of the most eagerly awaited by the conservative crowd and, given the high expectations, he acquitted himself nicely. The speech typified the rapid rise of Rubio in conservative circles from unknown to giant killer -- the giant being Gov. Charlie Crist who Rubio is challenging for the state's open Senate seat. If he wins the primary and, presumably, the general election, Rubio will immediately begin to be talked about as a national candidate given his beloved status among conservatives, his youth (he's 38) and his Hispanic heritage. The recent controversy over charges he billed to a state party credit card, however, show that the idea of Rubio may ultimately trump the reality of Rubio. (Previous ranking: N/A)

6. Scott Brown: Brown's Senate special election victory in Massachusetts last month was the sort of cataclysmic event that resets the political landscape. And, Brown, immediately became a national star -- profiled by the New York Times magazine and perhaps the most requested campaign surrogate within the party. (Brown will campaign for Arizona Sen. John McCain next month.) And, Brown appears to already be having some influence within the chamber as well; his decision to vote for the jobs bill earlier this week led to a flood of Republican support that took a bill on the verge of failing to a convincing passage. (Previous ranking: N/A)

5. John Cornyn: Cornyn took over the chairmanship of the NRSC and was immediately hit by a series of Republican retirements in tough states like New Hampshire, Ohio and Missouri. But, as the national environment turned toward Republicans, Cornyn took advantage -- scoring a series of recruiting successes and putting the the party in position to make significant gains in the Senate this fall. If the gains are in the 7-8 seat range, Cornyn will be carrying lots of cards heading into the 112th Congress. (Previous ranking: 9)

4. Tim Pawlenty: Pawlenty had an uneven last week. On the good side, he appeared confident and knowledgeable during a one-on-one interview David Gregory on "Meet the Press". On the other, his speech at CPAC was flat and unimpressive -- a performance that won't hurt him but also won't help him build buzz in Washington. Pawlenty has a compelling personal story -- son of a truck driver, first person in his family to go to college -- but as the CPAC address proved, he doesn't know how to tell it right yet. But, he is working as hard as anyone in the field and he'll get better. (Previous ranking: 4)

3. Sarah Palin: Palin continues to be the most difficult person to rank on the Line. If the Line detailed the most influential conservative leaders in the country, she would clearly be number one -- as demonstrated by the hero's welcome she received during her keynote address at the national Tea Party convention earlier this month. But, Palin lacks real influence within the Republican establishment -- she probably likes it that way -- that makes it difficult to rank her any higher. Palin's inner political circle remains very much a work in progress but those that are closest to her at the moment are far from household names in Washington who would help her build credibility and influence inside Washington. (Previous ranking: 1)

2. Haley Barbour: Barbour, the governor of Mississippi, is broadly admired as perhaps the best combination of political strategist and spokesman that the party has at the moment. Barbour chairs the Republican Governors Association -- where the party hopes to make gains in large states like Ohio and Pennsylvania in advance of the 2011 redistricting process -- but is also a trusted behind-the-scenes counselor at almost every level of the party. Barbour appears to harbor some presidential ambitions of his own; "If there is anything to think about after the election is over, then I'll start to think about it then," Barbour recently told a group of national reporters. (Previous ranking: 2)

1. Mitt Romney: Romney gave a command performance at CPAC -- delivering a solid speech aimed at establishing himself as the de facto leader of the party and offering a detailed critique of the Obama Administration and its policies. And, his decision to put Matt Rhoades, communications director of his 2008 presidential bid, in charge of his Free and Strong America PAC was a savvy move that won him kudos among party insiders. Romney appears far more at ease in this race than he did in 2008; he knows who he is and what he can (and can't) do -- a very important quality in politics. (Previous ranking: 3)
Read Washington Post article here.

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