GOP 2012 Pres. Rankings, Updated 9/1!

It’s time for my two-month update on the 2012 GOP Presidential contenders, but it’s been a quiet period compared with the hyperactive previous two months. Maybe that’s because of the congressional recess. Or maybe it’s the lack of crazy sex scandals.Anyway, my top five remain the same as the last update. (Here are links to the previous rankings.) Pawlenty looks very strong to me in the early going.

Now that summer’s ending, we’ll start seeing more gatherings where 2012 wannabes need to shop their wares. A bunch of them will be at the upcoming Values Voter Summit, and Huckabee is confirmed for Take Back America.

1) Tim Pawlenty, Governor of Minnesota. T-Paw has been travelling the country, making all the right moves, meeting with all the right people, and most importantly making sure that Mitt Romney is tagged as the pro-socialized-medicine guy. (1)

2) Jim DeMint, US Senator from South Carolina. Got in an excellent high-profile media battle with Obama, which solidified his image as the top anti-health-care-reform guy. Then he denied interest in a Presidential campaign: “I wouldn’t get out of my driveway without my wife shooting me in the back.” Note that this also serves to remind people that he’s not one of the Republicans with marital problems. (2)

3) Mike Pence, US Representative from Indiana. He did a swing through Iowa in July, and has been here, there and everywhere (even Montana!) in August. (3)

4) John Thune, US Senator from South Dakota. He’s got his own web site opposing health-care reform Before that, he had his own web site opposing the Sotomayor nomination. (4)

5) Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts. When prominent conservative bloggers are referring to “the dung heap that is RomneyCare,” you’ve got a problem. Meanwhile, he’s keeping up his busy schedule, and just scored a huge number in a NH poll. (5)

6) Rick Perry, Governor of Texas. Says he loves Sarah Palin, hates moderate Republicans, and might invoke the 10th Amendment to refuse to allow Texas to participate in any new health care system. It’s all good. (7)

7) Haley Barbour, Governor of Mississippi. He’s gone publicly quiet, but he’s working hard as the new Republican Governors Association chair. Romney used the RGA chair to promote himself nationally; Barbour is using it to recruit and fund good 2010 candidates. We’ll see how that approach works. (6)

8) Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana. Nothing new from the Boy Wonder, other than ruling out a 2010 Senate run. (9)

9) Mitch Daniels, Governor of Indiana. For a guy who swears he won’t run, he sure gets a lot of profiles about him as a potential candidate. Did a trade mission to China -- nice for the resume. (8)

10) Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House from Georgia. All talk. And fundraising. No action. (11)

11) Jon Kyl, Senator from Arizona. One of the few conservatives with the balls to even oppose the enormously popular “pre-existing conditions” part of health-care reform. (12)

13) Eric Cantor, US Representative from Virginia. Quieter than normal, but he’s raised a lot of money through his PAC. (13)

14) Bob Corker, US Senator from Tennessee. Turns out he’s got some money. Not Romney kind of money, but possibly self-fund early-campaigning money. (15)

15) Kay Bailey Hutchison, US Senator from Texas. Voted against Sotomayor and is selling her Virginia home, but still having trouble with Texas conservatives. Her favorability ratings are still sky-high, but it increasingly looks like if she wins the governors race, she loses the party conservatives along the way. (10)

16) Jeb Bush, former Governor of Florida. The first few small trial balloons did not draw massive fire, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts raising his profile. (18)

17) Lindsey Graham, US Senator from South Carolina. Voted for Sotomayor. That won’t help. (14)

18) Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska. On the plus side, she’s making a trip to China. On the down side, she’s coming back. (16)

19) Mike Huckabee, former Governor of Arkansas. Since the Palin resignation, Huckabee has been in full-throated Obama-attack mode. Is he trying to keep up with her as a Presidential candidate or a conservative money-maker? My guess is the latter. (17)

20) Dirk Kempthorne, former Interior Secretary. Nothing new that I know of. (19)

21) Charlie Crist, Governor of Florida. Got handed a political hot potato -- Senate appointment  -- when Mel Martinez decided to pull a Palin. Unsurprisingly, Crist picked a crony, after first trotting out a series of “short list” candidates of every gender, geography, ideology, and ethnicity. (22)

22) Chuck Grassley, US Senator from Iowa. Douglas Burns, who reports on Iowa politics from inside Iowa, reports that Steffen Schmidt, who studies Iowa politics from inside Iowa, tells him that Grassley is putting out serious feelers about a Presidential run. It would help explain Grassley’s mounting rhetoric against health care reform. If he runs, he would give Romney the excuse he needs to skip the Iowa caucuses. (--)

23) Jim Douglass, Governor of Vermont. The second-best thing about his announcement that he will not run for re-election in 2010 is that he immediately becomes part of the Presidential rumor-mill. He immediately got his first denial out of the way, using the same tactic as DeMint -- saying his wife has a divorce lawyer on speed-dial should he ever run for President. The best thing about his announcement is the inevitable candidacy of his lieutenant governor, Brian Dubie. Yes, I will laugh every single time I see a “vote for Dubie” sign. I am that juvenile. (--)

24) Jon Huntsman, Governor of Utah. Confirmed as ambassador to China, where his first duty will be explaining Sarah Palin to them. (23)

25) Sean Hannity, talk-show host. The trial balloon has been successfully floated. Presumably that’s just for ratings -- the guy might be crazy, but he’s not going to walk away from his lucrative day job to be a candidate. Is he? (--)
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