Earlier this month, President Barack Obama, unsurprisingly, announced his bid to keep the same job for four more years. Though the president hasn’t had exactly what you could call a smooth first term, he will be a formidable foe to the Republican nominee.
And just who might that Republican be?
Answer: nobody knows.
Many fringe candidates have either thrown their hat into the ring or have been talked about as potential candidates. The list is as long as it is yawn-worthy: Gary Johnson, the pro-choice, pot smoking former governor of New Mexico; Jon Huntsman, the U.S. ambassador to China under the Obama administration.
There’s Rick Santorum, who the last time we heard from him was busy losing a Senate seat in Pennsylvania by 18 points; Herman Cain, the Tea Party phenomenon that no Tea Partier has heard of; Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, whose campaign strategy has been to emulate George W. Bush’s policy positions.
There’s Mitch Daniels, the Indiana governor who would fit better in a classroom than in a political campaign; and John Bolton, the ultra-hawk Bush-era ambassador to the United Nations.
These candidates, frankly, do not have a chance.
There are a few who have legitimate opportunities to win the nomination, but every potential candidate has a fatal flaw that will doom him or her in a race against the politically adept Obama.
Newt Gingrich, the Clinton-era Speaker of the House, is likely running. His infidelities will be a big problem, but his biggest problem is that he’s likely the most unpopular Republican in America.
Sarah Palin probably won’t run, but she has a lot of support among social conservatives. Her problem is that she is incredibly partisan, which may result in notoriety and huge support from her base, but also results in incredibly high negatives. She won’t get independent support, which is needed in a general election.
Donald Trump should not be seen as a legitimate candidate, but alas, according to polls, he cannot be ignored. He likely is just trying to get attention, but he will not survive a vetting process by the media and the opposition. I suspect there is too much in his past.
The two who, according to polls and the media, have the best chance of winning are Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney, the two men who finished second and third behind John McCain the last time around.
Huckabee is very popular among Republicans and independents, and his Fox News show has kept him in the spotlight. However, he has proven to be gaffe-prone, and has not shown whether he can increase his support outside his evangelical base. Don’t bet on Huckabee.
The probable nominee is Romney. He is the most politically savvy of the bunch, and he certainly looks the part. However, even if he does win the nomination, he has one huge problem — Romneycare.
He will not be able to successfully combat Obama in the general election when the single biggest policy the president passed was based partly on legislation Romney passed as governor of Massachusetts.
Who then could actually challenge Obama? Who could actually bring change to the government?
The one man who could is Ron Paul.
Before you scoff and say that Paul could never get elected, know this: Paul does better than every candidate except Huckabee and Romney in the polls against Obama. According to Public Policy Polling, his favorability rating in Iowa, an important early caucus state, is better than every candidate except Huckabee. In New Hampshire, an important early primary state, his favorability rating is better than every candidate except Romney.
In one poll last year, he lost to Obama by just one point.
Paul, who announced the formation of an exploratory committee yesterday, is a serious candidate with serious ideas, whether it be opposing military intervention overseas, advocating a strong dollar or promoting a balanced budget.
Most of all, as his new book “Liberty Defined” makes plenty clear, he knows how to make America a nation of liberty once again.
“We must come to imagine liberty again,” says Paul, “and believe that it can be a reality. In order to do this, we do not need songs, slogans, rallies, programs, or even a political party. All we need is access to good ideas, some degree of idealism, and the courage to embrace the liberty that so many great people of the past have embraced.”
One way to embrace it is by supporting one of the great people of the present — Ron Paul.