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Presidential Politics

December 29, 2011

With the Iowa caucus and the primary season for the GOP presidential candidate just around the corner I have been giving some thought as to what 2012 might bring.

The Republican contest has swung back and forth in the last few weeks and months. A number of candidates have shot to the top of the polls only to fade back into the pack, and the one candidate that has been there or thereabouts is clearly not loved by the majority of Republicans.

Mitt Romney has struggled to gain anything more than 25% in any poll – which is pretty much where he was in 2008, when he lost out to both Mick Huckerbee and ultimately John McCain who secured the nomination. At various times in this race the Republican field has been led by Michele Bachman, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, all of whom have regressed back into the pack almost as soon as they hit the front.

This indicates a number of things, firstly that the GOP party doesn’t really know who or what they want from their candidate and that they don’t really like Romney. With the field of candidates lacking the depth that we have seen in previous years Romney should be streets ahead but he remains locked in the mid twenties. This can’t be good news for the GOP as we enter election year.

The evangelical right has yet to settle on their favoured candidate and perhaps if one candidate from Bachman, Perry and Santorum were to emerge then Romney would be in serious trouble given his lacklustre polling at the moment. A couple of weeks ago I got on Rick Santorum to win inIowaat 30-1. At time of writing he has come into 7-1 after picking up a couple of key endorsements and some favourable polling earlier today.

Having talked down Romney’s chances, I actually think he will go on and win the nomination. He is staggeringly wealthy and can pour money into a long campaign and is probably the only candidate that could challenge Obama in a general.

What will be interesting for both the Republicans and Democrats will be the eventual VP nomination. For a position that was famously described as not being worth more than a warm bucket of spit, it could make all the difference this time round, for both candidates.

If Romney is to get the nomination his VP pick will be crucial as he seeks to appeal to a base that is clearly unsure about him. If he hadn’t ruled it out so clearly (and frequently) the ideal candidate would be Marco Rubio – the junior Republican Senator fromFlorida. He is young (40), Hispanic and charismatic. He could deliver the key swing state for the Republicans and help recapture some of the Hispanic vote that went to Obama in 2008 (Obama took 2/3rds of the Hispanic vote). But his attractiveness as a candidate may be the reason he doesn’t take it – he is too good a VP pick and he sees that he could run a successful presidential bid of his own in a few years. At 40 years old he has plenty of time. Perhaps this year the Republicans will look at 2008 and follow the Democrat example and pick a VP candidate from the field when Obama picked a former rival for the nomination and went for Biden. McCain picked Palin from nowhere and paid for it. Gingrich in particular has made it very clear that he would accept a VP place on the ticket. I think an interesting pick would be Condoleezza Rice but I suspect she is too tainted byIraqandAfghanistan– however she does bring a lot of positives and would appeal to the Republican base.

But what about the Democrat ticket? In 2008 Biden was absolutely the right the pick. Biden gave the ticket foreign policy expertise and experience. But what does he add in 2012?  Until very recently I had always considered that Biden was a one term VP, now I am not so sure. Biden is in many ways the perfect VP and foil for Obama. He is straight talking and can perform as an attack dog with blunt combative language that Obama could never get away with for fear of being un-presidential. He also has huge working class appeal and can speak directly to the blue collar worker in a way Obama cant.

However, I think this race is due for a big game changer. I cant see Obama offering (or it being accepted) a VP slot to Hilary Clinton but maybe….

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