With the dead-of-night Sunday news that Indiana Governor – and former Bush Administration OMB Director – Mitch Daniels will not run for President in 2012, speculations is growing that a desperate-for-a-serious-candidate (as opposed to a sure loser like Herman Cain or Newt Gingrich or Sarah Palin) Republican establishment will now “intensify efforts to convince another major candidate to join the race, such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush or New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.”
I’m highly skeptical about Jeb Bush being a candidate in 2012, as the Bush family “baggage” is probably still far too strong at this point, and also since Bush has stated repeatedly and strongly that he’s not running. However, I can certainly see efforts being made (in fact, they already appear to be underway, whether from the “top” or at the grassroots level) to recruit from the GOP “Class of 2009.” I’m talking about the two Republicans elected in November 2009 — New Jersey’s Christie and Virginia’s own Bob McDonnell.
The question is, are either of the two “Class of 2009” Republicans willing to run? And, if they are willing, what are their chances of actually winning the Republican primaries and general elections? On the former question, Christie has made it very clear he’s not running, declaring, “Short of suicide, I don’t really know what I’d have to do to convince you people that I’m not running.” In addition Christie’s poll numbers recently – see here (“Forty-seven percent of 807 New Jersey adults surveyed approve of Christie’s job performance, while 49 percent disapprove.”) and here (“NJ voters by 5:1 say Christie should not run for President”). In sum, so much for that idea.
Which brings us to Bob McDonnell; what about His Excellency?
A few points. First, McDonnell won his 2009 race for governor by a much wider margin (59%-41%) than did Christie (49%-45%). Of course, McDonnell ran in a lot “redder” (or “purpler”) state than generally “Blue” Jersey, but, but even accounting for that, McDonnell’s 18-point margin of victory in 2009 is far better than Christie’s 4-point edge.
Second, McDonnell’s poll numbers now are significantly higher than Christie’s. For instance, a recent Washington Post poll had McDonnell at 62%-26% approval/disapproval in Virginia. Another poll, this one by PPP, had McDonnell at 50%-35%, not nearly as strong as the Post poll indicates, but still far better than Christie’s abysmal numbers.
Despite all this, there hasn’t been much buzz about a McDonnell presidential bid in 2012. I searched around, and I didn’t find much. For instance, there’s a “Draft Bob McDonnell in 2012 Facebook page with just 301 fans (in comparison, we got 1,000 supporters for Jim Webb online in just a few weeks in 2006). Lame. Then there’s McDonnell’s own statement that he’s “not running for anything” in 2012, but instead is “thrilled to be governor of Virginia.” It’s not a “Shermanesque” statement, perhaps, but it’s pretty definitive.
The question is, what happens if desperate Republicans ratchet up the pressure, cajoling, pleading, etc. for McDonnell to throw his hat in the 2012 ring? Personally, I’m not convinced that the term-limited McDonnell would rule out the possibility. Over at the Washington Post “Right Turn” column, Jennifer Rubin is certainly enthused, writing that the “GOP could do a lot worse than McDonnell” and that “Republicans might think about an accomplished governor with a solid track record.”
For the moment, put aside the fact that McDonnell’s record is actually paper thin, as much as he pushes his Big Lies. The question is whether Republicans, faced with a field right now that leaves something to be desired (to put it mildly), will now turn to the square-jawed, smooth-talking, Pat Robertson-educated, highly popular (if you believe the polls) governor of Virginia? Given the gap between his rhetoric and his actual accomplishments (what accomplishments?) as governor, I’m not particularly worried about this lightweight’s chances in 2012. To the contrary, I’m eagerly anticipating awaiting the Bob Boomlet. 🙂 How about you?