Dear Govs. Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels, John Kasich, Bobby Jindal; Sens. Jon Kyl, Marco Rubio and Jim DeMint; and Reps. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), and Mike Pence (R-Ind.):
You’ve each declined to run for the presidency or even endorse one of the final candidates. It’s understandable that you’d decided not to run for president. It’s nasty business. You could wind up looking like Simon Legree or suffer a brain freeze on national TV. It’s punishing and harder than anything you’ve done in your lives. And endorsing? Why that requires an expenditure of political capital, some risk taking. Your guy could lose, and there where would you be?
But here’s the thing: The voters in their infinite wisdom have just given a huge boost to perhaps the only GOP candidate who could shift the spotlight from President Obama to himself, alienate virtually all independent voters, lose more than 40 states and put the House majority in jeopardy.
We’d be looking at four more years of Obama’s economic policies, four more years of strained relations with allies, several new Supreme Court justices and an unprecedented power shift to the executive branch.
It seems, gentlemen, it’s time to get off your . . . er . . . time to get off the bench and into the game. It is time to make the case for winning conservatism — a conservatism attractive to centrist voters that can be translated into a reform agenda. If conservatism becomes a movement of anti-media bashing and hyperbolic rhetoric, it will cease to be a force in American politics. And if it is led by an egomaniac whose personal advancement takes precedence over any principle, the GOP will be (correctly) mocked.
So how about it? One of you can run yourself. Or you can instead collectively get behind a not-Gingrich candidate. But really, if you are to have a Republican Party to lead one day in the future, you can’t very well do nothing.
My own view is that any one of you would be preferable as a candidate to Newt Gingrich, as would either Rick Santorum or Mitt Romney. So chat among yourselves and decide on a game plan. Figure out how to avoid being dubbed the “sane Republicans who let the party burn to the ground.” But don’t dawdle. There’s another big race coming up.