Now that we know who DOESN’T want to be president in 2012 — Chris Christie, Sarah Palin, Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani, among them — the Republican presidential nomination will likely remain unsettled long after the leaves have fallen and the first votes are cast in a GOP primary more than two months from now.
Nothing in recent political history, including indecisive politicians, has flip-flopped more than the GOP presidential front runner. The top hopefuls change from week to week (does that suggest they’re all weak?); from Romney to Bachmann to Perry and now Cain.
In the last debate, there were nine contenders, the four above, plus Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Rick Santorum and Gary Johnson. As a result of so many hopefuls, one survey revealed that only a small number of potential voters could even name the front runner. In the coming months that list will be trimmed, though it may be even longer before any competent contender comfortably leads the pack.
The unpredictability of the Republican presidential nomination was spotlighted after a recent surge by one candidate. When Texas Governor Rick Perry lost substantial support after two feeble debate performances, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney reclaimed the lead. Perry’s loss, though, was businessman Herman Cain’s gain. The former pizza chain magnate, now in second place, bumped Perry to third.
Apparently, the main thing the Republicans are looking for is anyone to challenge Barack Obama in 2012. All the front runner fickleness seems to point out is that they’re not too fussy and can’t seem to focus on one or two or three choices.
After he unexpectedly won the Florida Straw Poll, Cain, the laid-back, former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, surged in the jam-packed GOP presidential sweepstakes in the role of an upbeat DC outsider (sound familiar?) with a record of success in business. And, he has focused on the number one issue voters care about these days — the economy.
But Cain’s remarks this week, condemning the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protesters as anti-American, may backfire. He would be wise to distance himself from the anti-Wall Street movement, unless he plans to revive the anti-war motto, “America Love it or Leave it,” towards the protesters, which could revive the same passion it did in the late 1960s and further divide the nation. Generations ago traditionally ultra-patriotic patriotic Manhattan construction workers strongly opposed antiwar demonstrations and even resorted to an occasional physical confrontation. However this time, their contemporaries and other union members joined or vocalized support for the anti-Wall Street protest in NYC, which could lose him a chunk of anti-Obama support.
Even so, what Cain fails to talk about, and seems to be a key issue for OWS, is that the government bailed out the banks and Wall Street firms to avoid a potential economic collapse. However, even if a depression was thwarted, the banks and firms survived, then thrived, and rewarded themselves with hefty bonuses, which failed to generate any consequential undertakings or stimulate the economy.
Some political analysts still view Cain as a long-shot for the GOP nomination, but he’s the one with momentum for now. But as we’ve seen lately, that’s likely to change before the next weather pattern.
Some surveys indicate voters would strongly vote for a Republican over Obama, but when asked which particular candidate could beat him, the president comes out ahead in head-to-head competition. And that kind of indicates that when it comes to the current crop of GOP challengers, the right choice looks like “none of the above.”
Republicans optimism for 2012 and unambiguous discontent with President Barack Obama notwithstanding, it is also quite obvious that they are not especially content with any of the choices in the race. There may be 13 months until the election but, too many hopefuls — even at this premature juncture — spoil the political broth and spotlights the Republican Party faithful’s ambiguity.
Whatever happens between now and the GOP convention, party members will have to make up their minds and close the revolving door of candidates because the ballot never offers an option for “Anyone of the above.”