I’m neither a prophet, nor the son of a prophet. And yet I am prepared, on the week before Christmas 2011, to name the man who will be the Republican nominee and, I believe, the next president of the United States.
Yes, I could be accused of doing some wishful thinking here, I concede, since I’ve made it clear ever since he announced that he is my first choice for the Presidency. But here is my rationale, why I really have begun to believe, debate stumbles and all, that Rick will emerge as the nominee:
1. It is abundantly clear that the rank-and-file doesn’t trust Mitt Romney as the Republican standard-bearer. I have some ideas why this is the case, and you probably do too, but they’re not germane to this discussion. Suffice it to say that while others have risen and fallen, Romney’s lukewarm support has stayed roughly the same. Romney is this year’s McCain, albeit a bit more conservative version (if he can be trusted): he’ll do, but he’ll never, ever thrill Republicans. Ever. Nobody will wake up on Election Day and proclaim, “Hot Diggity, I get to go vote for Mitt Romney!!!”
2. Newt’s popularity is falling—fast. What is becoming clear is that he’s not the conservative some think he is; he’s not got the support of many of those who worked closest with him in Congress; he’s prone to saying some incredibly stupid things; he can’t win the Presidency. Thankfully, people are onto him, and I predict his slide will continue.
3. Ron Paul excites a certain percentage of people, but scares a much higher percentage. The people who love Ron Paul love him more than any others love their candidates. He’s truly a pucker-or-duck figure; nobody is ambivalent toward Ron Paul. Personally, I like a whole lot of what he says, but I don’t like his foreign policy, and I don’t like his unelectability, and he’s not my guy. And despite the fact that he’s now taken his turn atop an Iowa poll—and even though it’s conceivable he’ll win Iowa—he will not be the nominee.
4. This, then, leads us to ask, “who’s left?” And the polls are beginning to trend to Rick Perry. He is, in my judgment, the one candidate with a stellar record of governing, a stellar position on social issues, and no (known) character issues. Granted, there are a few positions Rick has taken in the past that I think were unwise; granted, he needs work in debates (only because these exercises in silliness seem to matter to some people). But all of that said, given that the other conservative candidates, Michelle Bachmann (unelectable) and Rick Santorum (a nice Veep candidate, perhaps) aren’t getting traction (and won’t), it looks to me like Rick is well-positioned to be the conservative choice. He may win Iowa—I’m betting on it, in fact—and though he isn’t running strong in New Hampshire, a good Iowa performance will help his standing there. Then comes South Carolina, and by that time, it may be down to Mitt and Rick. Nikki Haley’s endorsement aside, South Carolinians are quite the conservative lot, and I see him being very competitive there.
In the end, I think Rick is the last man standing.
And the next President.