Ohio Made Super Tuesday a Superficial Nail Biter

 Bookmark and Share  While Rick Santorum’s Super Tuesday results were far better than predicted, they did little to make a difference other than in the headlines we will be reading and in the cable news teasers that we will be hearing.

While it is true that the results from the ten state Super Tuesday contest can allow one t0 go so far as to say that Rick Santorum came out a winner,  his clear victories in Tennessee, Oklahoma, and North Dakota, and his second place finish in Ohio that was too close for comfort for  Mitt Romney, have undoubtedly established Rick Santorum as the other man in what seems to be a two man race and it will go a long way to energize both Santorum supporters and Romney haters.  However, the psychological perception, as undoubtedly important as it is, does not change the reality that Mitt Romney has created for himself and despite himself.

Although it is too early to establish precise electoral vote counts after yesterday’s returns, the combined results of the nearly 20 states that held binding contests to date, make it clear that Mitt Romney has a much clearer shot at the 1,144 delegates needed to win the Republican presidential nomination, than do his remaining rivals in the race. On Wednesday, Romney’s campaign chief, Rich Beeson, will make a rare public appearance designed to stress that if one does the math, Mitt is the only candidate left in the race who can realistically collect enough remaining delegates to win the nomination.  While mathematics does make it for possible for Santorum to win the nomination, reality does not because it dictates that Santorum would have to rack up at least 60% of all the remaining delegates.  To perform that well, Mitt Romney would have to be caught in bed with an underage boy and Newt Gingrich would have to be caught cheating on his latest wife, Callista and neither are likely to occur between now and the Republican National Convention in September.

Yet Santorum’s outperforming and Romney’s underperforming in many Super Tuesday states, ends nothing except the unlikely ability for Newt Gingrich to comeback.

For Newt, Tuesday’s win in Georgia, the state which he represented throughout his entire political career, was a gimme and barely enabled him to call himself a regional candidate.  Losing to Santorum and Romney in other Southern, Super Tuesday states, denied Newt even that title.

As for Santorum, he has become the last real hope for those who wish to deny Mitt Romney the G.O.P. nomination.  It will allow Santorum to continue raising decent amounts of money and will provide him with a small degree of momentum as we head in to the next contests of Kansas and Mississippi, two states that should be fertile territory for Santorum.  In between those two states, several American territories will be voting and Romney should easily win them, but Santorum’s anticipated strong showing in Kansas and Mississippi will most likely make Illinois the next major and possibly decisive contest to come up.  If Santorum does as well as expected in the next two states and manages to make Illinois as close as Ohio and Michigan were, or worse yet for Romney, was to defeat him there, the race will remain in flux for weeks to come.  At least until Texas on April 3rd, and ultimately the Mid-Atlantic version of Super Tuesday, on April 24th when Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island vote on the same day.

Still though, all the the numbers are on Mitt Romney’s side.

Santorum may be able to hang on much the same way that Mike Huckabee did in 2008 after Mitt Romney saw the writing on the wall and realized that the numbers were on McCain’s side.  But hanging on and winning are two different things.  Sure Santorum may go for a ride a little longer, but unless the small chance of brokered convention arises, he has no shot at the nomination.  And in a brokered convention, with the establishment clearly behind Romney, Santorum still has no chance at winning the nomination.  Even though the race is competeitve with Santorum doing far better than ever expected or predicted, any perception that the outcome of the nomination is in doubt is a deceptive one.

However; the  problem is that just having the numbers on your side does not mean you can win the one thing that that all this is for.  The presidency.

As I pointed out, Mitt Romney saw that John McCain had the numbers in 2008 and dropped out.  But Barack Obama went on to defeat McCain.  In 1996 after winning only 4 states, even Pat Buchanan saw that he could not defeat Bob Dole for the nomination.  But Bill Clinton defeated Dole.  Those defeats occurred because the eventual nominees won the nomination not because they inspired people, but because they were just more acceptable than the other choices.  A similar scenario exists now with with Mitt Romney.  But in some ways its even worse, because a substantial numbers of conservative oriented voters and anti-establishment types, just refuse to accept Mitt Romney.  At least so far.

Ultimately, Mitt Romney has to begin winning Republicans and Independents over because they like him, not because they don’t like his opponents.  If that is the formula Romney is banking on to beat Barack Obama with in November, then let us all just throw in the towel now because it won’t work.   With a billion dollars to spend, President Obama will have the ability to not only make people briefly like him, he will also have the ability to make people hate Mitt Romney, something which Romney seems to make easy to do.

Meanwhile, regardless of how exciting the results of Super Tuesday seem to be on the surface, below the surface is a reality that dictates a fate which gives the Republican presidential nomination to Mitt Romney.  And while Rick Santorum can tempt fate, no matter how promising he may look after Super Tuesday, he will not be able to change fate and we Republicans can only hope and pray that Mitt Romney eventually gives us more reason to vote him than just the fact that he is not Barack Obama.

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Mitt Romney Wants Sarah Palin to Run for President

Bookmark and Share    In an interview with USA Today’s Susan Page, Mitt Romney states that he hopes Sarah Palin runs for President.

According to Romney;

“I think it would be a good thing if she did. She would make the race that much more exciting, bring more people to watch the debates, and I hope she gets in.”

Romney is totally correct on those points.

Palin’s entry into the race would have an incredibly positive affect for Republicans in the 2012 election. It will especially take a lot of ink away from President Obama.

However Romney does not mention the real reason why he would like Palin to run.

With Sarah Palin in the nomination contest, candidates like Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, and Herman Cain, will have their vote totals suppressed by Palin’s candidacy which will absorb much of their support. And while she holds down the vote totals of candidate like Bachmann and Perry, Romney has a good chance to see his establishment conservative vote totals surpass all others and wrap up the nomination earlier rather than later.

Of course, with Palin running, there is also a good chance that Romney will lose…………..to her.

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Palin’s Presidential Write-In Candidacy

Bookmark and Share    Sarah Palin had originally indicated that she would make a decision about a run for President in 2012 by the end of September. Yet in a recent interview with Sean Hannity she seemed to indicate that her decision might not come until November. When asked about her intentions and after being reminded by Sean Hannity that crunch time is approaching soon, Governor Palin responded by stating;

“There is still time, Sean, and I think on both sides of the aisle you’re going to see people coming and going from this race,”

According to Palin;

“In the Republican race, in this primary, I think people are still going to be coming and going because there is still time. And I’m still one of those still considering the time factor.”

When Hannity asked she didn’t need to make a decision by November, her response was;

“You do, legally you do, because you have start getting your ducks lined up to have your name on these ballots.”

But probably the most telling comment she made during her interview was;

“This is going to be such an unconventional election cycle. … Mark my word, it is going to be an unconventional type of election process.”

Trying to dissect Palin’s words is probably futile. The former Governor and Vice Presidential nominee is keenly aware that her every word is scrutinized, and from them are extrapolated some wild hypotheses . As such, she quite smartly, and intentionally throws out phrases that keep speculation about her front and center.

But there are several realities that can’t be denied. The most glaring one is that if Governor Palin intends to run, in order to get her name on the ballot in South Carolina and Florida, she must make her candidacy official and file the proper paperwork within the next 5 ½ weeks.

Or does she?

As Palin said in her interview, “Mark my word, it is going to be an unconventional type of election process.”

When it comes to unconventional, Sarah Palin is the quintessential queen of unconvential. No politician is as unconventional as her. And while some suggest that her unpredictable nature makes her an unlikely political leader, it can not be denied that much of Palin’s popularity is based on her unconventional tendencies. It is what makes her the anti-establishment candidate at a time when the popular TEA movement that decided the 2010 midterm elections, is looking for an anti-establishmentarian figure to lead our nation.

So what could Palin have meant when after admitting that by typical legal standards, one would have to make a decision about the presidential election soon, but then suggested that this election is not going to be typical?

It is true that Palin would have to make her candidacy officially within the next several weeks if she intended to have ballot access in the South Carolina and Florida primaries. But it is also true that Palin could still win both those contests without appearing on the ballot. If an aggressive write-in effort were waged, Palin could actually catapult herself into frontrunner status and turn this election on its ear. That would certainly live up to her promise that we are about to enter into “an unconventional type of election process.”

To help make that promise come to fruition, Palin could remain an undeclared presidential candidate and continue to draw thousands to the appearances she she is already making around the country. But with a shifted focus on visits to Iowa, South Carolina, and Florida, and a few additional words, she could be in this race until the Republican national convention concludes.

With all the talk about Republicans not being very confident or excited by any of the existing candidates, Palin can appeal to those dissatisfied Republicans, and TEA movement voters by remaining the anti-establishment Republican. She can simply suggest that if you really want to send a message to Republicans and Democrats alike, we should think outside of the box that the establishment has put us in and do not limit ourselves to the candidates that the two Parties offer. And then all Palin needs to say is……

“Write in the name of the person you want to lead this nation, don’t just mark off one of the names that the Party machine allows you to choose from”.

From then on, a movement will be born, a movement that will make writing Sarah Palin’s name in as a symbol of protest and dissatisfaction with the establishment……of both Parties.

In the end, Governor Palin may not be able to win the nomination solely as a write-in candidate, but it could also be that Governor Palin does not intend to be President. Such an effort could simply be an ingenious way for her to insure that her voice is heard and that she continues to influence politics in the way that she intends to………… by keeping the establishment on their toes and preaching the virtues of limited government and bountiful freedom.

Then again, no one can say that Palin would have to remain simply a protest vote. A strong write-in candidacy could actually provide Palin with enough delegates to significantly influence such things as who the next vice presidential nominee is and numerous planks in the Republican Party’s platform. And if this happens to be a very close nomination contest, she could even garner enough delegates to select who the next presidential nominee is.

But that’s not to say that Palin won’t be the next President herself.

If her promise of an unconventional election bears out to mean a Palin write-in candidacy, a strong showing in Florida or South Carolina as a write-in candidate could create enough waves to propel her ahead of the official candidates. If that were to happen, all bets are off.

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Why Palin?

Bookmark and Share    The current Republican presidential contest remains in flux. One of the reasons for that is due to the anticipation of several more potentially, politically potent, candidates into the race……….Sarah Palin and Rick Perry. Part of the reason so many are taking this wait and see attitude is due to a lack of enthusiasm for any of those who we know are running.

That said, I do not subscribe to the school of thought that suggests that the current field of Republican candidates for President has no giants in it. I maintain the position that after a long and hard fought campaign, one of them will rise to the top and along the way, they will become so admired, so appreciated that on Election Day 2012, people will enthusiastically go to the polls to support them. I find many positive things in each of the candidates and could easily get behind someone like Romney, who I supported in 2008. I could also easily get behind someone like Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Tim Pawlenty or Newt Gingrich. On top of that I do not underestimate the magic that a well run campaign can produce.

Still, no matter how many excuses I make for a lack of popular energy for the existing candidates  it is still true that there is an enthusiasm gap.  But that is not the case with one name who may still enter the race.

Sarah Palin.

Of all the candidates and potential candidates, I find that Sarah Palin is the only potential presidential nominee who already inspires a great sense of enthusiasm within me and tensa of millions of others.  More so than any of the other conceivable nominees, Palin not only has a humongous loyal following, she has an immense and extremely energetic following and her popularity far exceeds that of any of her possible opponents.

Take for example Sarah Pain’s Facebook page. Facebook may not be the best barometer of political opinion, but its preeminence in contemporary internet communication offers a good idea of popularity.

Of the still evolving Republican field of candidates Sarah Palin’s fan base exceeds her nearest opponent by 2,140,214 people. Here’s a breakdown:

But putting those numbers and pop culture aside, there is no doubt that Sarah Palin energizes the base of the Republican Party. She provided whatever energy there was in John McCain’s doomed 2008 presidential campaign and since then, Sarah Palin has increased her role and visibility as a leading voice for constitutionalism and fiscal sanity.

Still, many believe that Palin can never win. They believe that even if she were to enter the race and somehow win the Republican nomination, she would be slaughtered in the general election. I am not so sure of that.

Despite left wing attempts to paint TEA Party enthusiasts to terrorists and equate them to kamikaze pilots, most Americans are coming around to the realization that government has become too big and spends too much and that Washington, D.C. bureaucrats have little ability to turn things around. Such a view fits right in to the message that Sarah Palin has been offering long before she was ever asked to run for Vice President. At the same time, few people are seen as having the resolve to do exactly as they say, as much as Palin does. People know she holds no punches and is not your typical politician. These quality are great positive contrasts to our current President.

So when it comes to the general election, some people may claim that Palin’s greatest liability is that she is too extreme. While many claim that this may destroy her chances of winning the general election, I contend that on the issue of the economy, Palin’s extremism is an asset. The economy is more than likely going to remain the number one issue. It is also likely that people will want a President who is willing to lead on the economy and not play the same old political games that both the left and right play when they come in to office. Palin has convincingly demonstrated that she would not be a politics-as-usual President. When she says that she would cut the budget, few doubt that she would, even if Congress fights her on it.

And insofar as other issues go, few if any conservative Republicans doubt Palin’s conviction to conservative values. This is not an issue which Palin would need to campaign on. If the religious right doubts Palin’s moral compass and faith, then they would probably doubt Jesus himself. The truth is that among the conservative base Palin need not prove she is conservative enough. This puts Palin in a perfect position to focus on the preeminent issue of the day………the economy. If she were to pursue the Republican presidential nomination, she need not be distracted by any other issue. At the same time Palin is in a perfect position to argue that on social issues, she maintains the most conservative position of all her opponents. Palin believes in the Constitution and her limited government values force her to hold the conservative position that government does not belong in our bedrooms. Take for instance Palin’s veto of the Alaska state legislature’s attempt to preclude the same-sex spouses of state employees from receiving state benefits. Despite Palin’s own personal opposition to same-sex marriage, she refused to allow the state legislature to deny these benefits on the grounds that it was discriminatory and unconstitutional. In other words, Palin believes that the Constitution settles political debates, not personal opinions. That is conservative. But it is also a conservative view that liberals and moderates should be able to appreciate.

The bottom-line is that if Sarah Palin does decide to run for the Republican presidential nomination, she should not be underestimated. Over the past two years, not only has she increased in popularity, she has also become one of the most vetted possible presidential candidates in history. Every aspect of her life has been under endless assault ever since she was first nominated for Vice President in 2008. The media has never let up on scrutinizing her every move and every word. From her clothing, to her family and even her personal emails, everything Palin-related has been dissected, investigated, examined, commented on and publicized. And what has come out to damage her? Nothing.

Ultimately, unlike the current existing field, Palin’s leadership has been inspiring. For me, the last time that there existed a potential candidate for President who inspired me was in 1988 when former Congressman and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development  Jack F. Kempran in the Republican primary. Kemp’s candidacy help draw me in to a life and career of conservative politics. Of course it must be mentioned that despite the inspiration, Kemp did not make it past New Hampshire. He lost to George “Read My Lips” Bush. But four years later President George H.W. Bush was denied reelection. Many voters were not happy with the fact that Bush broke his promise and caved to liberal calls for tax increases. So in retrospect they might have actually been much happier with the strength and conviction of Jack Kemp more than that of George H.W. Bush. That may perhaps be a lesson for Republicans to remember if Sarah does decide to run.

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For Republicans, There Are No Favorite Sons or Daughters Except for One ……Gary Johnson

Bookmark and Share  Public Policy Polling, a left leaning outfit, has put out some interesting results from a survey of how well the Republican presidential contenders are liked by the voters in their own states. The surprising winner here is former two term, New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson. The losers ………3 term Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and former 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

If one intends to run for national office, it is often taken for granted that the state they come from, supports them. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter only won 6 states and the District of Columbia. Fortunately for him, two of those states were his home state of Georgia and his Vice President’s home state of Minnesota. In 1984, Carter’s Vice President, Walter Mondale, was the Democrat presidential nominee and aside from the District of Columbia, the only state that he carried was Minnesota ….…..his home state.

But such favorite son or daughter results are not always the case.

In 1972, Democrat South Dakota Senator George McGovern won his Party’s presidential nomination, but in the presidential election, McGovern’s state of South Dakota voted for Richard Nixon.

And look at Al Gore in 2000.

The man had once represented Tennessee in the U. S. Senate and that same seat was once held by his own father. Yet in the infamous 2000 presidential election, Tennessee voted for George W. Bush. Had Gore been able to win his own state, the result in Florida, the state that was governed by G.W.’s brother at the time, would not have mattered.

So being the favorite son or daughter of your state is not just a good thing, sometimes it is a must.

Yet the PPP survey shows that only one candidate has a higher favorability rating than unfavorable rating. That is the understated, underdog of the 2012 presidential field ….. Gary Johnson. And not only is he the only one with a higher favorable to unfavorable rating, his favorability numbers are dramatically higher than his unfavorable numbers. Twelve percentage points higher to be exact. As seen in the graph from PPP below, 32% of New Mexico voters have an unfavorable opinion of their former Governor and 44% have a favorable opinion of him. Compare this to Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachman who’s unfavorable number among Minnesota voters is 26% higher than her favorable numbers, 33% favorable 59% unfavorable, and Sarah Palin who among Alaska voters stands at 33% favorable to 58% unfavorable.

What accounts for Bachmann’s bad numbers in her state is the fact that she is a national conservative voice from a relatively conservative district in an otherwise liberal state. What accounts for Palin’s bad numbers in Alaska is not quite as obvious. But much of it could be due to the fact that Alaskan’s who once gave Palin favorable ratings that were the highest of any Governor in nation, were very disappointed and angered by her decision to resign midway through her term in office. Another factor is overexposure and the disruption of  life in the state that came with Palin’s sudden rise to national and international fame. On the flip-side, part of the reason for Gary Johnson’s still high positive numbers from New Mexico voters, may come from his lack of attention.

Johnson is a rather mild mannered, understated man. He was elected Governor as an outsider with no prior political experience, did a good job with no scandals or media circus scrutinizing his every move, and went on to win a second term that went much the same way. Since leaving office, unlike Palin, Johnson, stayed out of the fray avoided controversy and allowed his last impression among New Mexico voters to be a lasting impression. Those are some reasons that account for why he still is more liked than disliked.

Unfortunately, while these numbers show that Johnson could probably do well in his state’s Republican presidential primary, it does not look like Johnson will do that well elsewhere. It’s a shame too. With New Mexico being a swing state, it could be critical to reaching the magical number needed to reach the electoral vote required to win the presidency . Of course nothing is to say that President Obama has a much higher approval rating than any of those mentioned in most of these states. Still, it would be encouraging to know that you could count on your own state. The only potential Republican nominees that we should legitimately expect to lose their own state in the general election would be Mitt Romney in the case of liberal Massachusetts, and if he really was delusional enough to run again, Rudy Giuliani in adark blue New York state.

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Santorum Bases His Candidacy on a Fight for America’s Freedom, Against President Obama

Bookmark and Share While New York liberal, Anthony Weiner captured Monday’s headlines with his admission that he is a member of Congress who is a liar that denied his penchant for the proliferation of porn on the internet that featured his own member, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, a candidate known for his conviction to values and moral decency, was citing the real promise that our nation was founded on, as the foundation for which he based his decision to officially run for President.
 
In his speech delivered in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, Santorum hammered President Obama on everything from his unwillingness to wisely use our nation’s resources, to amassing a debt that will cost future generations 40 cents on every dollar.  “Who are you, Mr. President, to say that you, and your Administration should take 40 cents out of every dollar, and borrow it from future generations to prop you up” said Santorum. 
 
But what the former Senator used to really pummel the President with was Obamacare.  For him Obamacare is the primary example of what is wrong with the thinking of the current Administration and it was used as the basis for his theme……..keeping Americans free. 
 
Santorum made the case that our nation was founded by people who did not want to live  where their rights were granted to them by Kings, but instead to live in a nation where they were free to exercise the unalienable rights granted  by God.  He argued that the purpose of America is to be free yet under the current Administration, that freedom is at stake.  He added;
 
“We are facing a time when we have a group of people led by President Obama who believes that America’s greatness is in government , not its people . And there is one singular act that is the lynchpin and that is Obamacare”
 
According to Santorum, Obamacare is designed to take power away from the people and make them dependent by hooking them up to government with an IV.
 
“They want to hook you. They do not want to free you. They do not want to give the opportunities. They believe in themselves, the smart people, the planners” , said Santorum
 
In a reference to Margaret Thatcher, Santorum made the case that Obamacare, was the greatest example of the type of
legislative threat to our freedom and prosperity that we must make a priority in turning back and repeated the words of Lady Thatcher who after doing an assessment of her time in office, compared to Ronald Reagan’s time in office and stated;
 
“I was never able to accomplish in England, what Reagan accomplished in America, and it was one thing that stood in my way….the British national healthcare system.”
 
Senator Santorum wrapped up his remarks  by describing how in 2008 Americans wanted a President they could believe in, but President Obama took that faith that the American public gave him, and “wrecked our economy, centralized government, and robbed people of their freedom” and concluded by saying;
 
” I believe now that Americans are not looking for someone that they can believe in.  They’re looking for a President Who believes in them.   Fellow Americans, it is our watch, it is our time…it is our time for all of us  to step up and do what America requires us to do.  I’m ready to lead.  I’m ready to do what has to be done for the next generation.  with the courage to fight for freedom, the courage to fight for America.  That’s why I am running for the President of the united States.  Join the fight!”
 
While this speech was not enough to propel Santorum to the head of the pack, no one speech could have.  But this one did demonstrate that he understands the conservative ideology that, if articulated right, can defeat President Obama.  And while many discount the Senator as a one issue candidate, it is clear to me that if his opponents believe that, they can easily be blindsided by an underdog who has been known to come from behind in the past.    So while expectations for him in the G.O.P. field may not be high, he should not be underestimated.  If he can raise a sufficient enough war chest to stay in the race, he will at the very least raise some eyebrows.  And based upon what is a proven conservative record and his ability to convey the sense that he truly understands what lies at the heart of conservatism, if given a chance by voters, Santorum will be one of those candidates who makes the Republican nomination contest a real horse race.    
 
 
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For Republicans, the First Step Is the Primary Within the Primary

Bookmark and Share    As we finally begin to understand what the likely field of Republican presidential candidates will look like, it is becoming clear that the same dynamics which influenced the 2010 Republican primaries and general election, are likely to play a significant role in the 2012 Republican presidential nominating contest. In 2010, the influence of a strong TEA movement, shaped the platform that incumbents ran on, and determined the outcomes of many primary contests. The now former Congressman from Delaware, Mike Castle, is one of the most notable people who can attest to that.

In Delaware’s Republican U.S. Senate primary, Castle, a former Governor of the state, was an establishment candidate. He was defeated by Christine O’Donnell who, for better or worse, was the anti-establishment candidate. In Nevada, Sharron Angle, another anti-establishment candidate, defeated a number of other establishment Republicans in her attempt to win the G.O.P. nomination. In both cases, those ladies may have lost their general election races, but many other anti-establishment candidates, won both the Party nomination and their general elections. There was Marco Rubio,  Rick Scott, Daniel Webster, and Allen West in Florida, Tim Johnson in Wisconsin, Niki Haley in South Carolina, New Mexico’s Susana Martinez and many more, including hundreds more on the county and local levels. Ultimately, the TEA movement brewed a potent formula that is still infusing itself in to the electoral and legislative process and it will continue to do so in the nomination process of the next Republican presidential candidate.

The same anti-establishment sentiment that propelled statewide and local candidates to victory in 2010 is going to again play itself out in presidential primaries and pit the anti-establishment against the establishment. In fact, in many ways, the race to nominate a Republican presidential candidate is likely to come down to two people……..the establishment candidate and the anti-establishment candidate. Consider it a primary within the primary.

On the establishment side, you have frontrunner Mitt Romney, followed by Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, and possibly other major players like Texas Governor Rick Perry, along with minor candidates like former Governors Buddy Roemer, George Pataki, Bob Riley and possibly even former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. In the end though, the establishment primary will really be only between Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, Pawlenty and if he runs, Rick Perry.

As for the anti-establishment primary, who will be competing in this field is still a bit unsettled. With names like Bachmann and Palin not yet in the race but seriously considering it, this inner-primary has yet to take shape. At the moment, Herman Cain is the anti-establishmentarian frontrunner. Competing against Cain is former two term New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson and Texas Congressman Ron Paul.  Both Paul and Johnson have a very low ceilings of support, but we have yet to see how high the roof on Herman Cain’s popularity is.

While Cain has a definite ability to outperform both Johnson and Paul, the entry of Bachmann and/or Palin in to the race, will give Cain a good run for whatever money he can raise.

On the establishment side, while Romney has the inside track, he can easily be thrown off pace and with the specter of RomneyCare hanging around his neck, he could be quickly overcome by Pawlenty, Gingrich, Santorum, Huntsman or Perry.

But in the final analysis, the nomination will most likely come down to the candidate which the establishment gravitates towards and the candidate that the anti-establishment coalesces around. It is hard to say which two will win their primaries within the primaries. I tend to believe that unless Texas Governor Rick Perry enters the race, Mitt Romney will be the system backed candidate.

Despite fears of Romney being a Benedict Arnold to the conservative cause and having a government-centric mindset, Romney will be a strong candidate. Say what you want, but Romney has a good record. Especially when it comes to management and economics, two things critical to the immediate needs of our nation. He will strike all the right chords and do so in a way that could earn him not just the Republican presidential nomination, but the confidence of Republican voters as well. And in the general election, as the nominee, Mitt Romney has the ability to craft a campaign that can beat President Obama. But Mitt can easily be derailed from his seemingly likely road to the nomination and even the White House, if a during the primaries and caucuses, a certain former Governor winds up becoming the candidate that the ant-establishment forces gravitate toward.

That person is Sarah Palin.

In 2010, she was the needle that the TEA movement used to inject its brew into the G.O.P. with. In 2010, she was the TEA Party’s Cheerleader-in-Chief and the quintessential anti-establishmentarian. And right now, it looks like Palin has the staying power to still be that Cheerleader-in-Chief in 2012.

While people like Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann could prove to be quite formidable, Palin is really the only anti-establishment candidate who has the ability to maintain the enthusiastic support of a majority of TEA movement Republicans while also being able to attract a significant portion of support away from the establishment candidate ……..especially if that ends up being Mitt Romney. In fact, if the primaries within the primaries pit Palin against Romney, I believe Palin wins the nomination.

That  is obviously conjecture. For it to even be possible, Sarah Palin will have to first decide to become a candidate for President in 2012. Additionally, the opportunity for any number of game changing events to take place is endless, and I still contend that the logistics of a well run campaign can make a candidate who looks weak now, seem quite strong later. But what is not conjecture is the fact that the G.O.P. will be encountering a primary within the primary. The anti-establishment forces are firmly ensconced within the G.O.P. and they are ready to do battle again in 2012. For these people, trust does not come with “political experience”. In truth, political experience is a minus to them. For these people, being a “good Republican” is not enough. They want a different type of Republican, the type who is willing to push the G.O.P. establishment and who can demonstrate that they are not willing to play the political games that have gotten us to where we are today. These sentiments are going to certainly produce a divide that will lead not to the usual competition between liberal Republicans and conservative Republicans but rather one between Republican insiders and Republican outsiders.

The final outcome will depend upon on which Republican outsider runs against which Republican insider.

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