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Right Turn
Posted at 12:24 PM ET, 04/20/2011

Mike Murphy on the 2012 presidential election

Continetti is guest-blogging for The Post.

Campaign season is upon us. I called my favorite Republican political consultant, Mike Murphy to get his quick-hit takes on all of the possible candidates for president. Murphy has worked for everyone from John Engler to John McCain to Mitt Romney to Meg Whitman. He has a great column in Time magazine on the state of the race that I urge everybody to read. Murphy told me Republicans are doing everything they can to make 2012 a difficult election, but “the best news is, one of them could actually win.” Let’s turn to the candidates:

Mitt Romney: “Weak front-runner. But as others drop out, he becomes a stronger front-runner. His problems are all real, but he may be a little over-underrated, if you know what I mean. He may not be as vulnerable as the conventional wisdom thinks.”

Tim Pawlenty: “Understudy. Decent shot to win. He’s in the old Lamar Alexander position, but he’s got a decent path. I watch his ads and I expect a huge alien to be slayed at the end.”

Mitch Daniels: “Serious, formidable candidate — and not going to run.”

Haley Barbour: “More campaign manager than candidate. Unknown how well he’ll do. Great operative. I know Haley could run a winning presidential campaign, just don’t know if he’s the candidate. BBQ / Twang-factor could be too high for general-election voters.”

Jon Huntsman: “President of New Hampshire. Potential. He’ll be the flavor of the month at the end of the year. He’s new and fresh, he’s an attractive candidate. They’ll run the old New Hampshire-focused McCain strategy from 2000. Whether he can roll that to the nomination is an open question.”

Chris Christie: “I think he might run. On paper, there’s a demand for a guy like that. I think he’s thinking about it. He probably thinks he has the late-entry opportunity. Open question is: Will his appeal last more than 50 days after he gets in?”

Mike Huckabee: “Formidable. Don’t know if he can really scale up his operation, though. He couldn’t last time. He’s kind of a one-man band. The one thing Huckabee had going for him in the last campaign is he never got the hard look that a front-runner receives. There’s a Faulknerian whiff there that will get more examination if he runs.”

Newt Gingrich: “Not going to win. Catalyst in the race but not a vote-getter. A lot of noise, not a lot votes.”

Donald Trump: “Mental case. Side show. Half-life for 45 more days.”

Sarah Palin: “As the chairwoman of the board, probably doesn’t run. But who knows? Her bubble is very self-reinforcing. She reminds me of when you could go over to any good restaurant in Paris in the 1920s and find five guys who thought they were the czar of Russia. I wouldn’t be surprised if she runs, but my guess is she doesn’t. The worst thing for Palin would be to go and get beaten by Bachmann in Iowa.”

Michele Bachmann: “Frank Sinatra Jr. Gallagher Two. I think Bachmann’s chances of landing in Jupiter are higher than her chances of being nominated.”

Ron Paul: “Goldfinger. A factor but there’s a ceiling on his support. He’ll get a few votes and he can fundraise forever. Likely to run, may be a catalytic effect.”

Gary Johnson: “He’s in a desperate primary with Ron Paul for about 7 percent of the vote.”

Rick Santorum: “Who? Double-A baseball.”

Herman Cain: “Hold the pepperoni. Entertaining, but again not serious.”

Buddy Roemer: “He’ll survive a little bit. But these guys, Cain, Roemer, Santorum — they’re all like third-tier comic book heroes. Buddy’s the Green Lantern.”

Paul Ryan: “I think he could edge out General Petraeus in the Weekly Standard editorial board straw poll, which Politico will cover in depth.”

Barack Obama: “He’s vulnerable. He wants the deficit issue — he just doesn’t want a deficit reduction plan. It’s time to put the voters through pain college, but no politician wants to do it except Paul Ryan, to his credit. But both Obama and the nature of the Republican primary do a good job of alienating independent voters.”

Mike Murphy: “I may run in the New Hampshire primary with the slogan, ‘Eliminate the middle man.’ I’m negotiating for support of the Kaus machine right now.”



By Matthew Continetti  |  12:24 PM ET, 04/20/2011

 
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