Mitt Romney departed the massive and still unformed GOP pack on Friday – too bad! – leaving Bush for now the nominal favorite for three key reasons: 1) money; 2) name recognition; 3) money.
Romney’s reasons for not pursuing a third campaign, after a three-week fan dance that had Beltway elites aroused, were analyzed by same at paralyzing dull length. Our own view is that Forty-Seven-Percent Mitt bowed out after his head exploded when the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve decreed that he needed to pay attention to the poor this time out.
That, and the fact that everyone who really wanted him to run was named Anne or Tag.
Amid a battalion of union busters, second-raters, whack jobs and the simply self-delusional, Bush at the moment is really the only guy you actually can picture in the White House for some reason other than dinner. Just 364 days before the 2016 Iowa caucuses, our Las Vegas Bureau Chief and Sporting Life Consultant Vinnie “The Vig” Capelli d’Angelo forwards the first Calbuzz (More or Less) Monthly (Non-Hillary) Presidential Rankings.
15- Carly Fiorina. Seriously? Having established her ability to win popular votes by losing by 10 points to Barbara Boxer, when the Junior Senator’s favorable rating was 10 points underwater, in a Republican wave election, I-Carly now strides forth brandishing her HP-proven plan for jobs: ship them all overseas. Sheesh.
14- Sarah Palin. Sadly for the political writers of America, Ms. Snow Machine simply was braying what passes for a thought in the tiny pea brain encased in that huge melon on top of her neck when she told reporters in Iowa she was “seriously considering” running. The only thing she’s seriously considering is the venison spread in the green room at Fox.
13- Donald Trump. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Karl Rove recently listed 23 potential Republican candidates – and left Trump’s name off the list. Hey, mark us down for anybody who drives Rove crazy.
12-Ben Carson. As Mother Jones helpfully noted, Tea Party champion and flat-tax tribune Ben Carson “once compared women who get abortions to dog-abuser Michael Vick, blamed the decline and fall of the Roman Empire on gay marriage, and concluded that believing in evolution was like thinking that ‘a hurricane blowing through a junkyard could somehow assemble a fully equipped and flight-ready 747.’” That was before he compared ISIS to the Founding Fathers. All of which will make him tough to beat in Florida.
11—Bobby Jindal. In 2009, the Louisiana governor was a Republican rising star when he laid a major egg, given the big opportunity to deliver the party’s response to President Obama’s first State of the Union. Since then, his prospects have gone steadily downhill as he’s evolved into a true demagogue, ranting about the need for Christians to wage a religious war against secular democracy and the inherent evils of Islam. Pathetic.
10-Lindsay Graham. This.
9-Rick Perry. Governor Oops is back and should not be misunderestimated. Besides his affectation of horn rims, he’s also actually been boning up on federal issues, from solar power to Syria, with the help of chrome domes he’s quietly had flown into Austin. Add to that he has the kind of folksy charm Republicans seem to swoon for (sorry Mittens). Of course, he’s still under indictment.
8-Rick Santorum. As long as Foster Friess has a man-crush on him, Santorum and his moral dogmatism and holier-than-thou style is unlikely to go away. Now that he’s taken to lecturing the Pope on what it means to be a Catholic, however, there’s always hope.
7-Marco Rubio. Another ex-rising Republican star who screwed up the State of the Union response gig, the first-term Florida Senator also ran afoul of party orthodoxy when he dared to put forth some practical, let alone humane, proposals for dealing with immigration. Now he’s trying to reinvent himself as some kind of an expert on foreign policy, but his larger problem is that Bush will cut heavily into his home state money base.
6-Mike Huckabee. We may be overestimating Huck a bit, given that he has no money, organization or real message – this even before he trashed Beyonce and got schooled by Megyn Kelly – but there’s no one in the field who’s got a better feel for the Republican Evangelical Christian base. Maybe he’s just pushing books but, if that’s the case, it’s tough to figure why he gave up his sweet sinecure at Fox News.
5-Chris Christie. Governor Meat Loaf has big problems at home, his bullyboy personal style long ago wore thin and his past positions on social issues put him out of the right-wing mainstream. But if Jeb falters, the Republican establishment could move quickly to Christie, the only one in this field not named Bush who’s positioned to feed at the trough on the GOP’s Washington-New York-L.A. big fundraising circuit. Of course, this may appear in a few ads.
4-Ted Cruz. It’s no doubt mere coincidence that Cruz resembles the late Senator Joe McCarthy, but it’s an appropriate comparison given his political recklessness and loose-with-the-facts flamethrower style. As the man who drove congressional Republicans into the ditch over the government shutdown, Cruz will be surely be the popular favorite with the Tea Party crowd, and will slug it out with several others for the role of right-wing foil to the allegedly moderate Bush.
3-Rand Paul. Paul is far more personally engaging and personally appealing than his libertarian cult hero old man, and his willingness to talk with people who disagree with him and raise issues, like prison reform, that no other Republican will touch, is commendable. But his philosophical opposition to military adventurism and interventionism will be a serious liability in Republican primaries, despite what some read as signs of softening in the traditional GOP hard line on national security.
2-Scott Walker. Following his recent breakout performance at an Iowa cattle call, the Wisconsin governor became the Beltway’s flavor of the week. He’s not only a big hero among Republicans of every stripe because of his first-term union busting, but also is a big favorite of the Koch Brothers for his embrace of their anti-government agenda. He’s punched his ticket on cultural issues, but doesn’t make a big deal of it and, as a Republican repeatedly elected in a Democratic state, is well positioned to make a crossover, electability argument. On the other hand, maybe he’s Tim Pawlenty.
1-Jeb Bush. John Ellis Bush surprised everyone with his lightning-quick moves to get into the race late last year and now stands as the undisputed favorite of the Beltway-based money wing of his party. There is no doubt he has a lot to overcome: the distaste and disdain of the torch-and-pitchfork crowd; Bush fatigue and the nation’s lingering detestation of his dopey brother; a cool and cerebral style of campaigning; his heretical stands on immigration, public education and gay marriage, and perhaps most of all, his employment of Mike Murphy as a top strategist. Then again, Republicans in the end love order, and always seem to pick the guy they’re supposed to.
Just ask Mitt Romney.