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Republican Presidential Field Set?

With the Mitch Daniels announcement that he is not going to run for President, as well as official announcements by Tim Pawlenty and Herman Cain that they are running, it appears that the Republican slate of candidates is almost complete.

Politico, citing GOP insiders, says that they do not believe that there are any other major candidates willing to declare for 2012.

“The waiting is over,” said Ed Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman and counselor to President George W. Bush. “Things are going to accelerate pretty quickly now.”

“You’re seeing everything you’re going to get,” said a Republican who has talked privately with the leading candidates.

Well, as usual, you wonder if the GOP elites are stating truths or hopes.

I can think of at least two major persons still seriously considering a run.

The biggest, of course, is Sarah Palin, who  has not stated clearly if she is in or out in this year’s campaign.   I thought she was going to pass this time around, but the rumors are swirling.  And with a Palin-approved movie about her life coming out next month, it looks more and more likely she will make the jump.

The second is Texas Gov. Rick Perry.  Conservatives have started clamouring for Perry to make a run, considering their lack of viable choices.  Perry has a strong record in Texas.  Texas is one of the few states that has added jobs over the past decade, and actually continues to this day.  Perry is not beloved by George W. Bush insiders, which may be a positive or negative, depending on which specific population you ask.

Other rumored candidates persist.  Chris Christie’s name pops up, although he vehemently denies even considering a run.  Back in November, Christie famously told reporters, “Short of suicide, I don’t really know what I’d have to do to convince you people that I’m not running.”  Many conservatives would love to see Jeb Bush, but he seems unwilling this go around.  Other names, like Rick Perry and Paul Ryan, simply do not seem to be realistic.  Even Rudy Giuliani, who had one of the most disastrous runs for the Presidency ever last time, has considered taking the plunge.

That said, I say that the field, plus or minus Palin and Perry, is fine the way it is.

This is what always happens to the out of power party.  2008 was the exception, since Republicans did not really have a flag bearer such as Vice President running, and it was basically a no-holds barred run for the White House.  But when you look at most off-cycle Presidential elections, the out of power party struggles to get a big name candidate on the ticket.

But that does by no means bar success.

Two glaring examples exist in modern times.  1980, Ronald Reagan was considered the outsider comparted to George H.W. Bush, and insiders within the Carter Administration were begging to run against the former California Governor.  In 1992, President George H.W. Bush, basking in the glow of the first Persian Gulf War, was running against the ‘seven little dwarves’ of the Democrat Party, once New York Governor Mario Cuomo decided not to run.  And we all know what a little known Governor from Arkansas named Bill Clinton did to Bush in the election.

There are no homerun candidates available to the Republican Party this time around.  And in fact, that is true in most election cycles.  But that by no means lessens the qualified.  2008 was the exception to the rule, where Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, or frankly any generic Democrat beat anyone in the Republican Party.

The media continues to promulgate the notion of Barack Obama as a great political force.  I am not so sure.  In 2008, Democrats had the wind behind their backs.  Which Democrat candidate would not have looked invincible with such a wave of resentment against the GOP?

This time around, if anything, Obama faces headwinds.  It will be shocking if the unemployment rate is below 8%, a level which no President has succeeded in winning re-election since FDR.  The rate of adding jobs appears to be slowing.  Foreign policy victories, as they are, such as OBL’s death and the Jasmine revolution, will likely fade into the public’s memory.  And the debt crisis, as well as continued talk about the deficit, will plague Obama for the rest of  his Presidency.

People lament the choices in front of them.  I say embrace them.  I hope Perry and Palin run, just to make it more interesting; the more, the merrier.  And then let the market of ideas decide.  I am confident, with the right choices, any candidate emerging from this group can defeat Obama in 2012.

This was cross posted on Neoavatara.

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