The Washington Post

Waiting for Mr. Right

Earlier today I suggested that Republicans were nervously eying the campaign of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and still holding out hope for an alternative. That has been born out by a number of posts.

Perry’s remarks about Fed chairman Ben Bernanke and his refusal to apologize for accusing him of “treasonous” behavior has not gone over well with the the business community and big donors. Larry Kudlow looked at “ red-hot rhetorical attack on Fed-head Ben Bernanke.” He responded, “Pretty rough stuff. Very aggressive language. And undoubtedly way too strong. It was poorly received in the financial world. No, Ben Bernanke is not a traitor. This is a policy dispute; it’s not a matter of patriotism.” The irony, as Kudlow notes, is that Perry may be right on the policy, but his words have rocked the very investors/donors he is trying to appeal to.

A Wall Street Journal report has a similar take:

Thomas Gallagher, a principal and economic policy analyst at the Scowcroft Group in Washington who advises Wall Street firms, said Mr. Perry’s comments will be the first thing many investors learn about his candidacy. And the comments are “drawing a fair bit of attention.”

“Voters may not care as much, but investors, like the chattering class, expect a candidate to know what he’s talking about when he talks about the Fed,” he said. “It’s one thing to oppose what the Fed is doing, but it’s another to call it almost treasonous.”

This is not merely a split between the Tea Party ethos and Mainstream Republicans; it is a warning that Perry remains attractive to big donors and potential Mitt Romney supporters only if he represents a responsible, credible figure to go up against the president.

And meanwhile, some key Republican leaders are getting antsy. I reported yesterday that conservative icon Bill Bennett was urging Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to run. Now the floodgates have opened, as Stephen Hayes reports:

Indiana governor Mitch Daniels hopes [Ryan] runs. “If there were a Paul Ryan fan club, I’d be a national officer,” Daniels said in a phone interview Wednesday morning.

“I don’t think it’s a secret that he was strongly encouraging me to try. I’ve been strongly encouraging him to run as well. He has all the qualities our party needs to be emphasizing in these elections. He can explain—and is willing to explain—in plain English why today’s policies are a disaster for the middle class, and he has the smarts to go toe-to-toe with the people who are saying misleading things about the proposals that he’s put out there.” . . .

Daniels says he has spoken to Ryan about a bid and encouraged him to run, but that they haven’t talked in the past couple of weeks. He disagrees with those who believe that the political calendar makes another entry too difficult. “It’s not too late. If it’s not too late for Rick Perry, it’s not to late for Paul. I’m a more-the-merrier kind of guy about the primary field. Absolutely there’s time.” . . . .

Another prominent conservative reformer, Jeb Bush, also thinks Ryan should run.

“Paul Ryan would be a formidable candidate. I admire his substance and energy. Win or lose, he would force the race to be about sustained, job-creating economic growth and the real policies that can achieve it.”

And it is not just establishment figures. Hayes reports, “Ohio congressman Jim Jordan, a leading conservative in the House and head of the Republican Study Committee, is also bullish on a possible Ryan bid. ‘He’d certainly be an asset to the race. When Paul talks about Cut, Cap, and Balance as a key to solving America’s debt problem, people get it.’”

If there is a respected candidate who can span Bennett to Jordan and Wall Street to the Tea Party, that would certainly reconfigure the race. The most tantalizing piece of information in Hayes’s piece may be that multiple sources say Ryan’s wife, Janna, “is ‘on board’ with a presidential bid. ‘That is a very big deal,’ says one Ryan confidante. ‘Not that she’s enthusiastic, but she understands and she’s with him on it.’” But is he?

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.


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