The 2012 presidential election is beginning to mirror 2004 in terms of ringside atmospherics. In one corner we have a vulnerable incumbent focusing relentlessly on building a campaign machine to power through the many economic and foreign missteps that could plague his bid to retain the Oval Office. We have the media looking to anoint a challenger to play the sparring partner to the no longer fresh President Obama. Luckily GOP primary voters are not taking the bait, or else the Republican Party could wind up with its own version of John Kerry. But this is not the only storyline.
Is the current 2012 GOP crop weak? Compared to what, I would ask. There are some long shots, but the field does include several former governors who can point to credible executive experience that was sorely lacking during the 2008 general contest. If Romney, Pawlenty or Huntsman win their partyâs nomination, Obama will have to last the full 12 rounds and the battle will be close to the end. On the other hand, if Republican primary voters opt for a less traditional or less disciplined candidate, Team Obama will be able to play the rope-a-dope strategy and cruise to a comfortable victory.
The key to energizing GOP primary voters through the general election will be whether they feel they are being represented in the early stages of the primary season. Missing from the field right now are a Sun Belt conservative with executive experience, a woman and a well-known social conservative.
Whether or not those holes get filled is still an open question. But the savior talk being peddled by the media is nonsense. If primary voters feel there is someone in the field who specifically speaks for them, then establishment and conservative Republicans will rally behind whomever wins the nomination, regardless of whether the eventual nominee is their own personal selection, in an effort to topple Obama.