Each week on my radio show and on RedState, I give a rundown of the Republican candidates running for president and where they stand. This week, I’ll give you a sampling, in alphabetical order, of where each of the candidates sits.
Not much needs to be said about Michele Bachmann other than she has had a perfect week. She will not release her fundraising numbers, but everyone knows she is going to surprise the political class with a second place finish behind Mitt Romney. As of now, she is the front runner in the anti-Romney coalition. The only two things that will hurt her near term are an unforced error or a governor from Texas.
Bachmann’s rise is Herman Cain’s fall. He finished at the bottom in terms of second quarter fundraising with only Newt Gingrich saving him from being dead last. He ran as an insurgent dependent on grass roots and Bachmann has stolen the heart of the grass roots. If Bachmann falls, he may rise again, but it’ll be tough.
Gingrich is done. His campaign has $225,000 in the bank, having raised $2 million and spent $3 million. All you need to know about Gingrich is that he, a former speaker of the House, was outraised by a pizza magnate with no political experience.
Gary Johnson? No need to waste ink on him.
Jon Huntsman, Barack Obama’s ambassador to China, is getting lots of favorable media buzz, but I see no path to victory for him. He has embraced Rudy Giuliani’s strategy of skipping early states, but he’ll have to go through Bachmann to beat Romney. That’s a nonstarter.
Then there is Sarah Palin. She’s not running. If her polling improves, that may change. But even Palin on her bus tour has been calling for Rick Perry of Texas to get into the race.
Ron Paul will not be the Republican nominee. He may influence the eventual nominee on monetary policy. About the only thing to remember about Paul is his ability to excite a base of youthful voters and disaffected malcontents. That continues to impress a lot of people who should know better.
The guy I continue to keep my eye on is Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota. With the exception of the New Hampshire debate, Pawlenty has run a near flawless campaign with a slow and steady approach. He just picked up some considerable Florida endorsements and Sarah Huckabee, Mike’s daughter, just signed on in Iowa. The downside is Pawlenty raised less than $5 million. That may be about where Huckabee was at this time in 2007, but Pawlenty is no Huckabee, even with Sarah Huckabee on board.
The other downside for Pawlenty, along with Bachmann and Cain, is Gov. Rick Perry of Texas. If Perry gets in, the race shakes up quickly with Perry taking a lead. He’s popular with both fiscal and social conservatives. Evangelicals love him. And half of all jobs created in the country in the past two years were created in Texas.
Right now Romney remains the front runner, but he seems to have capped out support at a third of Republican voters. History favors him as the nominee, but this is an odd year and he is playing it too safe. I don’t see Romney winning the nomination.
Last and least is Rick Santorum. The only question I have about Santorum is whether he drops out before Gingrich.
And that, my friends, is how the GOP race is shaping up so far.