I think we can all agree that Republicans and conservatives alike are not very happy with their options for a 2012 GOP presidential nominee. The polling data shows that none of the GOP candidates has garnered the support of more than 30 percent of GOP voters nationwide, just a few months away from the official start of campaign 2012 in January.
In fact, I think the best thing that President Obama has going for him right now (despite a 44 percent approval rating) is the lackluster, self-defeating, somewhat angry GOP primary field (specifically of Governors Romney and Perry) that is currently being led in the polls in four key caucus/primary states by former Massachusetts Governor Romney, with Herman Cain as a close second.
WATCH ‘HARDBALL’ COVERAGE OF OBAMA’S SLOW AND STEADY COMEBACK:
[MSNBCMSN video=”http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640″ w=”592″ h=”346″ launch_id=”45053264″ id=”msnbc614179″]
Ironically, this campaign reminds me of 1992 when a young Gov. Bill Clinton rose to the top of the Democratic primary field by zooming in on a very sluggish U.S. economy, despite his personal foibles and scandals. Then President George Herbert Walker Bush, who had a 92 percent approval rating after the Persian Gulf War of 1991, was deemed unbeatable. Yet Clinton and his team of rag tag strategists skillfully coined the phrase “it’s the economy stupid” and rode it all the way to the White House.
It is also worth noting that Ross Perot who ran as an independent that year garnered over 18 percent of the popular vote because people were not happy with their options within the major parties. What makes this election bizarre is that despite the bad economy, Republicans have not been able to seize on this issue to derail President Obama.
I believe given the polling numbers of the GOP field, we could be headed in that direction once again with a third party candidate running against the GOP nominee if it is someone like Romney (who cannot poll over 25 percent of the Republican base vote right now).
Although history would suggest that Obama has no chance of being re-elected with a bad economy and an unemployment at nearly 10 percent, I disagree. Here are the reasons why I think the president can and likely will be re-elected particularly if the GOP nominee is someone like Mitt Romney, who truth be told is a moderate republican at heart, and from what I hear is who the White House really wants to run against in 2012:
Republicans can’t count on the usual fallback of calling Democrats (i.e. Obama) weak on defense and foreign policy: This is no longer a card the GOP has in their deck. My new name for the president is “The Terminator” just ask Osama bin Laden and former Libyan president Muammar Gadhafi, and lest we forget this president has kept the promise to bring troops home from Iraq by the end of 2011 and draw down in Afghanistan as well.
He and his foreign policy team have been fearless in facing America’s enemies when it mattered. America has remained safe from renewed terrorist attacks on his watch and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been a steady hand in diplomatic affairs. His most sober moment as Commander-in-Chief was the firing of General Stanley McChrystal and somehow getting Gen. David Petraeus to take over at CIA still has the best of Washington pundits scratching their heads.
They can’t argue that he’s broken his campaign promises: Like it or not, agree with him or not, he has kept his promise to reform health care, pass an economic stimulus plan, enact targeted regulatory reforms (rare for a democrat), appoint diverse and highly qualified Supreme Court nominees, lessen the impact of lobbying and earmarks in the appropriations process, and more.
Despite taking a bruising in the 2010 mid-term elections and losing his democratic controlled House of Representatives, Obama has somehow managed to recover politically and regain his footing with his core base of supporters. Something the GOP has not yet done.
And lastly, the core GOP base of religious and social conservatives wants Rick Perry and not Mitt Romney to become the nominee: It seems to me that the 800lb gorilla in the room for evangelicals is that former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is a Mormon and megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress (who is a Perry backer) said so out loud when he introduced Gov. Perry at a GOP forum earlier this month.
Worse for Perry; is that he is seen as an “illegal magnet” (Romney’s words) because of his support for providing college education tuition assistance for illegal immigrants who come to Texas. It is also worth noting that after running for the presidency now for almost four years, Mitt Romney is a very weak front-runner.
The poll numbers should trouble the Romney camp, and give the Perry crowd renewed hope that if Perry can re-energize his campaign and define himself as the one true electable conservative in the race; he can still win the nomination. But the real deal is this: The 2012 GOP primary field is simply not ready or able (at this juncture anyway) to truly take on President “Terminator” Barack Obama and give the American people a plausible set of reasons to elect a Republican to office come next November.