With the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary roughly one year away, the behind-the-scenes maneuvering that has defined the race up until now will begin to go public.
“The practicalities of running — debates, straw polls, staffing, lining up endorsements on paper — means candidates will have to end the sub rosa campaign soon,” predicted Heart of America’s Managing Editor, Denise Haywald.
My sorting is based on myriad conversations with party strategists — both those already signed up to work on one of the campaigns and those currently on the sidelines of the 2012 race.
And, to be clear, no one on this list has made a FORMAL decision yet. And that means minds can — and perhaps will — change. A candidate in one category today could wind up in an entirely different one a month — or three — from now. That’s politics.
**The In Crowd**
These candidates have not announced but are, through their actions, considered to be all-but-in the race.
Jon Huntsman: (Preferred) The former Utah governor’s decision to resign as the Obama Administration’s Ambassador to China — effective in April — seems to be a very clear indication he is running for president. With strong ties to China, this would help us greatly with our foreign affair problem that President Obama keeps pushing us further into.
Mitt Romney: (Second Preferred) The former Massachusetts governor likely won’t announce his run for a few months, staying above the fray and taking advantage of the fact that he is perceived as the nominal frontrunner at the moment. Romney is known for his economic brilliance but falls short on his foreign knowledge. Romney has since made up for that by visiting Egypt, Israel and Afghanistan. Read more about his visit by clicking: https://theheartofamerica.wordpress.com/2011/01/09/romney-bolstering-foreign-policy-credentials-visiting-afghanistan-israel-and-egypt/
Rick Santorum: Santorum raised some eyebrows by landing two well-regarded Iowa operatives late last month but his viability may depend on higher profile social conservatives taking a pass.
Tim Pawlenty: The former Minnesota governor has effectively been running for president since he announced he wouldn’t run for a third term in 2010 but his support of cutting social security and medicare is less than desirable.
**On the Fence**
These are candidates in various stages of indecision.
Mike Huckabee: Surprise winner of Iowa’s 2008 election; however Huckabee has a very comfortable life outside of elected office and questions remain as to whether he wants to give it up for another presidential bid. He may be a bit too religious for the anti-religious voting sector.
John Thune: Winner of recent 2012 straw poll, Thune was said to edge out Obama if the race was held today. For more information on the poll, please visit: https://theheartofamerica.wordpress.com/2011/02/04/john-thune-beats-obama/
Jim DeMint: For months, the South Carolina Senator insisted he was entirely uninterested in running for president. Or not. DeMint will be in Iowa in late March to speak at an event organized by Rep. Steve King (R) and his advisers recently told CNN’s Peter Hamby that DeMint “hasn’t shut the door” on the race. If DeMint runs, it likely makes the South Carolina primary a non-starter in much the same way Iowa was for Democrats in 1992 due to the candidacy of home state Sen. Tom Harkin.
Michele Bachmann: Bachmann is a late-arriver to the 2012 presidential chatter but her recent visit to Iowa suggests she is taking a hard look at the race. Bachmann’s fate is likely tied to Sarah Palin; if the former Alaska governor runs, it’s hard to see the space for the Minnesota Congresswoman in the field.
Haley Barbour: Out of the “on the fence” candidates, the Mississippi governor is the closest to being all in. Barbour won’t make it official — either way — until the Mississippi legislature ends its session in April.
Mitch Daniels: Daniels may be the biggest name — outside of Palin — who is entirely undecided on whether to run. Conflicting reports about his level of interest are everywhere but what we know for sure is that family concerns remain the largest sticking point to a bid by the Indiana governor.
Rudy Giuliani: The former 9/11 New York City Mayor has been talking up the possibility of a return run for president in 2012. Soft on social issues, he may fail to win the support of the Conservative crowd.
Sarah Palin: Republican 2008 Vice Presidential candidate, the uncompleted Alaska governor is giving every indication that she is seriously considering a bid and based on her lapping it up with the Tea Party- it would be surprising if she didnt run. Palin is known for her heart felt exchanges but she lacks domestic and foreign operation knowledge and the conservative crowd tends to think of Palin’s candidacy as a running joke
Ron Paul: After the 2008 presidential race vastly raised his national profile, why wouldn’t the Texas Congressman run again? Strong on business but horrible on foreign affairs, his candidacy is also known as a running joke.
**Out means out**
This group has made it abundantly clear that they are out of the running for 2012. Never doesn’t always mean never in politics but these guys have come as close as possible to a Sherman-esque statement.
Mike Pence: A much loved perceived forerunner announced that he would not seek the Presidential seat. Many speculate that he will place a bid for his state’s governorship instead.
Chris Christie: We’ve made the case in this space that there is an open space in the field that the New Jersey governor could easily occupy. But, he seems to be sincere in his lack of interest.
Bobby Jindal: Jindal is up for reelection as the governor of Louisiana this year, timing that makes it virtually impossible for him to even contemplate a presidential run. Plus, at 39 years old, he can bide his time and wait for 2016 or even 2020.
Rick Perry: When the Texas governor signed on as the head of the Republican Governors Association earlier this year, it was widely assumed he had decided not to run. That appears to be true although there are some within the strategist class who believe Perry could reconsider if the field remains relatively unformed in three months time.
Marco Rubio: Rubio is carefully building a Senate office that represents his profile as a national figure. It would be in his best interest to wait another four or eight years rather than rush himself into a presidential race that he might not be ready for just yet.
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