Below The Beltway

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Republicans Faced With A Weak Field For 2012

Republican activists who attended the Southern Republican Leadership Conference this past weekend don’t seem too thrilled with the 2012 contenders they saw:

NEW ORLEANS — Southern Republicans wrapped up a three-day meeting in New Orleans on Saturday unified in fervent opposition to President Barack Obama, but wide open at this early stage about whom they want to challenge him in 2012.

Party activists at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference cheered potential presidential candidates such as Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin and Tim Pawlenty, as well as absentee Mitt Romney.

But they also readily volunteered objections to the same names: Gingrich has personal baggage, Palin’s too inexperienced, Romney pushed Obama-like health care while governor of Massachusetts and Pawlenty lacks charisma.

Given those commonly heard objections among rank-and-file party workers, it appears that no potential Republican candidate can yet claim to be the heir apparent and the race could be wide open.

Everyone one of them has flaws, some of them, like Palin, flaws that make the prospect of being able to win a General Election seem remote at best. However, this is the field the GOP has and, while others may come along over the coming year, there isn’t going to be a GOP superstar:

The GOP’s star is not coming. Obama became a superstar at the Democratic Convention in 2004 and by 2006 (two years before the election….), every single person that followed politics knew who Barack Obama was. We have neither a Hillary Clinton (a powerhouse presumed nominee) or a rising star who captured the nation’s attention. Paul Ryan is a darling amongst conservatives but about ten mainstream Americans have ever heard of him. Jindal was supposed to be the rising star, but he blew his “national unveiling” with an awkward response to Obama’s State of the Union.

Maybe something could change, maybe our guy will emerge, but probably not. Chances are Obama is here to stay. Republicans will need to gain back as much ground as possible in Congress, and then work to moderate the policies this president is going to push. “Kill the bill” didn’t work with healthcare. Let’s make sure we learn the right lessons. If we don’t, we might find ourselves shut out at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for much longer than “four more years.”

Pessimistic ? You bet.

However, at the moment, it’s hard to picture any of these Republicans beating Obama in November 2012, and about the only way it’s going to happen is if Obama screws up so badly between now and then that the public just wants to get rid of him.

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