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November 15, 2011

Everyone's Mitt Romney Problem.


Although I've voted for a Republican for president only once, watching two major GOP presidential candidates self-destruct these past few weeks has been painful. We need at least two strong political parties in America--and we need credible candidates in both parties. Election cycles are a great way, of course, of taking the pulse of a nation. Every four years, we bat a few issues around. We learn what's important to us. We get our bearings.

Now, and for the first time since I could vote, we have Republican issues without viable Republican leaders. As matters stand, I'd have to bet on and vote for President Obama, who will likely be facing Mitt Romney. Barring a further substantial weakening of the economy, Romney will lose--and lose, in my view, big time, both in popular and electoral college votes.

There was a time somewhere between Teddy White's book The Making of the President, 1960 and now--and clearly by 1980--when Republicans finally learned the gritty and often ugly black arts of how to run national campaigns: House, Senate and Presidency. And, once they got the hang of it, GOP operatives often ran those campaigns like well-oiled businesses. Southern states started it off. Young political strategists like the late Lee Atwater--smart, super-intuitive, passionate and mean as a snake--led the way.

Right now, however, the best Atwater clones on earth can't put anything together for the GOP. To belabor the obvious:

1. Herman Cain. Loved this guy. Our hero until the "let Herman be Herman" tact failed two PR rules: a. Be first with bad news, especially when you can see it coming. b. Don't lie about that which the electorate will forgive you for anyway. Forget about the polls. Forget about the Libya flub. We all question his judgment on how he handled the questions on sexual harassment more than any actions which may have led to them.

2. Rick Perry. Personally, I loved this guy even more than Herman. On my dad's side, we're probably somehow tribally-related--but Perry can't be my President. Ever. But I'd jump at the chance to have dinner with him, listen to some blues, drink Ripple and split a tab of Vicodin.

3. And the winner is Mitt Romney--who Obama will soundly trounce, whether I like it or not (and I probably would). Why oh why can't the mega-talented Mitt be more like his dad, George, the late crowd-pleasing ex-governor of Michigan? When I see Romney on TV, I still get that creepy feeling that "something or someone else is driving". So, apparently, do many other folks. He can't connect--or even appear to connect--with other humans no matter how hard he tries. A tragedy. This is one smart guy. Romney will be the candidate--and he will lose.

Anything Barack Obama can really do to ensure a second term? I doubt anyone connected with the Obama 2012 campaign is as optimistic as I have been above. Or as glib. I've been wrong a lot, on U.S. presidential campaigns. Very wrong. Let me give you two examples.

During most of 2003, I was raising money for Wes Clark--I was a Clark convention delegate until he withdrew from the race--because I was sure that, as much as I like him as a legislator, John Kerry could never even be nominated (I confidently told his campaign chief this on a fine spring morning in 2003 at Kerry's Stanton Park campaign office).

In 2007 and 2008, I worked for and supported Hillary Clinton--and was as surprised as she was when she did not win the Democratic nomination.

Things change quickly and unpredictably. In late 2003 and 2004, John Kerry finally found the traction I predicted he didn't deserve and would never earn. In 2008, Barack Obama overcame Clinton on a slowly-building but steady and unstoppable wave that left pols and most Americans breathless.

Hillary as Obama's running mate? To give the President the best possible shot at relection, some journalists and political strategists would whisper two words in his ear: Hillary Clinton. Clinton denies interest in the Vice-Presidency. However, some experts, like my friend Mike O'Neil of O'Neil Consulting, a long-time pollster, political consultant and thinking-man's talking head, believes that Hillary Clinton as Obama's running mate in 2012 is highly likely and something to watch for.

I spoke with Mike O'Neil Sunday night. An Obama-Clinton ticket, he said, "would instantly energize the party and infuse life into the Obama campaign." For Clinton's part, O'Neil noted, she would be hard pressed to turn it down "because it would guarantee her the 2016 nomination (win or lose)." O'Neil pointed out that in 2016, Clinton will be 69 years old. Many believe she seems unlikely to retire from public life four years from now. And, O'Neil continued, "barring a health incident, Hillary Clinton would still come across as younger than, say, McCain, presented himself, in 2008."

"Obama would be a fool not to offer it to her," O'Neil concluded. "And Clinton would be foolish to turn him down."


Posted by JD Hull at November 15, 2011 03:47 PM


Obama should put Hillary at the top of ticket, going for a second term in 2020

this is the 2020 hindsight rule

Posted by: Moe Levine at November 15, 2011 11:59 PM

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