The ever brilliant Charles Krauthammer laid out his best bets for the GOP in 2012 in Friday's column in the Washington Post. He proclaims that our best bet to unseat Obama is to select a candidate who can focus on the issue of smaller government and avoid making the race a personality contest between him or herself and Obama.
In developing his thesis he puts forward three "axioms:"
- "The more the Republicans can make the 2012 election like 2010, the better their chances of winning."In a straight ideological contest about the size and scope of government Obama loses.
- "The less attention the Republican candidate draws to him/herself, the better the chances of winning."
- "No baggage and no need for flash. Having tried charisma in 2008, the electorate is not looking for a thrill up the leg in 2012. It’s looking for solid, stable, sober and, above all, not scary."
Krauthammer goes on to give odds on the GOP field:
- Michele Bachmann 20-1. A longshot but could do well in debates and some early contests. All good for another shot in 2016.
- Mitt Romney: All the right stuff except the albatross of RomneyCare in Massachusetts. Krauthammer says "Romney is Secretariat at Belmont, but ridden by Minnesota Fats. He goes out at 5-1."
- Newt Gingrich: " a Vesuvius of ideas...Unfortunate personal baggage. 12-1."
- Tim Pawlenty: "Up-tempo style, middle-of-the-road conservative content. Apparently baggageless. Could be the last man standing. 5-1."
Donald Trump: He’s not a candidate, he’s a spectacle. He’s also not a conservative. With a wink and a smile, Muhammad Ali showed that self-promoting obnoxiousness could be charming. Trump shows that it can be merely vulgar. A provocateur and a clown, the Republicans’ Al Sharpton. The Lions have a better chance of winning the Super Bowl.Krauthammer doesn't expect Palin or Huckabee to run. I'm not so sure. Huckabee at least has been making noises in SC and the re-emergence of Sarah Palin in Wisconsin recently might be signs that both are considering a run. Finally, Krauthammer sums up what he calls the "2016 Bench" of solid GOP leaders who are unlikely to run in 2012 but who knows.
One note of difference with Krauthammer: We don't always win by selecting the safe candidate. Readers may recall that McCain was supposed to be the most experienced campaigner who could appeal to the middle ground but he fought the 2008 race with one hand tied behind his back. Before I get too excited about the dull as dishwater "safe" candidates, they'll have to prove they can FIGHT!