Republicans searching for their candidate

American politics as a “perpetual election campaign” has been confirmed as of late.
Several of Obama’s staff led by David Axelrod, one of the key men behind Obama’s election victory in 2008, have recently left the West Wing and moved to Chicago to set up the Obama election campaign headquarters for the 2012 presidential election. There is no doubt that Obama will run for re-election but, in addition, there is no democratic challenger in sight, no Ted Kennedy, as in 1980, who challenged and lost against incumbent Jimmy Carter.
The Republicans are looking hard, using strong searchlights, for their candidate in 2012 against Obama, as seen this past week at the Conservative Political Action Committee’s (CPAC) conference in Washington with over 10,000 participants. In many respects, the conference was the start of the battle within the Republican Party about who will be Obama’s opponent in November 2012.
All, or almost all of those who aspire to become the Republican presidential candidate, were there – some of them more or less known, others almost or completely unknown to a wider audience. Their vanity was perhaps their most striking characteristic. Donald Trump, as Republican presidential candidate? Or tea party favorite Michele Bachmann? Or libertarian Ron Paul? Or, or – many of whom are too unknown to even mention here.
The vote at the CPAC conference as to whom the participants wanted to have as the Republican Party’s next presidential candidate was really quite meaningless. Only four thousand of the participants bothered to vote, and libertarian Ron Paul, won like last year. With 30 percent of the vote, the victory only showed how the ultra-conservatives and the tea party members dominated the CPAC conference. Paul has no chance to win the nomination – Trump said so, correctly. In second place was Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts and presidential candidate 2010 with 23 percent of the vote while the rest finished far behind, including Sarah Palin with 3 percent, who didn’t even attend, along with former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee.
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, former speaker Newt Gingrich, Senator John Thune from North Dakota and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty perhaps wished that they had not been there, for they all ended up well behind Paul and Romney.
But the race has just begun. No one is yet an official candidate and it’s too early to draw any major conclusions right now other than that the Republicans’ feverish hunt for their presidential candidate will intensify as the Iowa and New Hampshire contests early next year quickly approach. Now is the time to organize and to raise money, a lot of money, which Mitt Romney has done much better than the others, so far. So, I guess, he is the front runner for now, which might not mean a thing down the line.
The Republicans have no doubt been encouraged by their election victory in 2010 and its new majority in the House of Representatives, but new victories in 2012 are far from guaranteed. The Republicans should probably not even take it for granted that they will retain their majority in the House of Representatives. President Obama is still a formidable opponent, perhaps even more so today than ever before during his two years in the White House. He seems to have a new spring in his step, and with each week of new signs of a strengthening U.S. economy, and if the unemployment figures can come down further, he looks to be increasingly formidable in November 2012.

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