Much of the 2012 GOP nomination speculation revolves around the same 5 or six names. In no particular order they are Romney, Huckabee, Palin, Gingrich, Barbour, and Pawlenty. All of these people have their pluses and minuses, but none of them I believe would be the right type of candidate to face Obama in 2012. As bad as things are now, none of us should believe that the 2012 reelection of Obama will be anything less than a bitter battle to the end that will probably be a dead heat, being that sitting Presidents are hard to defeat.
Out of the six that I named, Romney and Pawlenty seem like the only two who have better than even odds that they will run. Both are mostly conservative and are executives, with Pawlenty being the more effective, popular and conservative one. However, neither candidate really can invigorate the Conservative grassroots, the rank and file, and the establishment all at once. Palin and Huckabee, Don't seem likely to run and Gingrich is a gaffe machine who is past his sell by date. Haley is as smart as a whip and a very competent governor and savvy strategist, but is too entrenched in the political establishment. That is why I have compiled a short list of alternative names who should be looked at as possible standard bearers for conservatives and the GOP in 2012.
In trimming down my list, I eliminated all Congressmen and Senators, now that might seem harsh, but I totally feel that the best opponent for Obama will be a strong executive who has a proven track record, rather than a legislator. I also chose to leave off any candidate will is running for office in 2010 and will have been elected for the first time. Although, a VP nomination is very possible for the likes of Rubio, Haley and others. There is little chance that they would or could run for President two years late.
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels: Pro - A strong executive and a deficit hawk. He has been a results oriented governor and has delivered for Indiana a blueprint for a stronger and more economically vibrant future. Also he turned around a major deficit and made it into a huge surplus. Con - He is criticized as boring, but people who have seen and know him, know that he is actually a pretty cool guy, as he is blunt, direct and likable. He does not seem to keen on the idea of running yet.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie: Pro - He has set Trenton on fire and taken a knife ax to the state's deficit. Although, he has much work left to do, there is little argument that Christie is in on the right path. He was a tremendously successful US Attorney and his no-nonsense attitude has liberals running scared. He has taken on the teachers unions, the media and other liberal interest groups and has not flinched. He also would probably torch Obama in a debate. Con - Largely unfinished business due to his short stint in office. Would only be a one term governor. New Jersey is not a very republican state and it is unclear whether he would carry it against Obama.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal: Pro- Until recently I would not have included him on this list, given the fact that he has categorically denied all interest. However, his sterling record of conservative, competent leadership is too great to ignore. He has managed several crises such as Hurricanes and the ongoing BP debacle with the perfect blend of calm, measured anger and resolve. He is a young, diverse conservative who happens to be a brilliant Rhodes Scholar who was accepted into Harvard Medical and Yale Law. His rise to the top has been swift and well deserved. He also is not afraid to call the Federal Government and Obama out as he has done with Healthcare, BP and other issues. Con- Might want to wait until 2016 because of his 2011 re-election and that his youth affords him the option to do so.
North Dakota Governor John Hoeven: Pro- He is the nations longest serving governor and will soon be the next Senator from North Dakota. The people who he represents absolutely adore him and he has approval ratings in the 80's! He is a conservative for the most part, with slight libertarian leanings, especially when it comes to federalism. He is a social conservative who has overseen a the development of a surplus in the hundred millions. He has raised spending by a large percentage, but has accompanied that with hundreds of millions in tax relief, as well as a 75% growth in GDP. Oh and the Unemployment rate in North Dakota is a minuscule 4%. Con - Some conservatives will castigate him as being a big spender, even though he has not raised taxes to do so. He also is from North Dakota, which is not exactly a media boom let, and he has much name recognition that he would have to make up before 2012.
Texas Governor Rick Perry: Pro - He is the governor of the largest Republican state. Texas under his watch has outperformed the national economy in terms of growth. He is no doubt a conservative who is in touch with tea party activists. Strong demeanor, and fiercely independent of the Republican Establishment. Con - He is a bit of a ham at times and can put his foot in his mouth. Will republicans want to look to another governor of Texas as their nominee?
Governor of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Luis Fortuno: Pro - He is a fiscal conservative who has been lauded by Grover Norquist. He is Hispanic and a fresh face. However, much more plausible as a VP nominee and I am pretty sure if Americans will really elect the governor of Puerto Rico as their President.
General David Petraeus - I doubt he will run against his current Commander-In-Chief
South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds -Strong two term conservative governor
Alabama Governor Bob Riley - Ditto
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer - Riding a head of steam amongst Conservatives because of the Immigration Bill.
I am sure there are many more qualified conservative options for 2012, but those five I singled out, along with the Honorable mentions, would carry the Conservative and Republican Banner proudly and effectively against Barack Obama in 2012.