John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Let’s Talk Presidential

Posted on March 18, 2011
Andrew Breitbart told GQ (thanks Mike Allen) that his dream ticket to run against President Obama would be Allen West and Michelle Bachmann. Coincidentally, that would also be President Obama’s dream ticket.

John Thune was the one guy that most Democrats were most concerned about when you talked to them privately. He had the looks, the brains and the ability to connect to voters. But he decided he didn’t have the passion in his belly.

Newt Gingrich looked like he was going to take the plunge into the Presidential pool, but then he backed away. Newt is an enigma. He is obviously very smart, but he also has some obvious vulnerabilities. Nobody can get the attention of the media faster (except for Sarah Palin), but unfortunately, Newt gets attention not for the brilliant things he says, but instead for the radioactive things he says.

Mitt Romney has to be the odds on favorite to get the nomination. He is slugging away, and he has plenty of money to spend on a Presidential. My big worry is that he lacks authenticity. We still don’t know who the real Mitt Romney is. We do know that he can read the polls. The problem is that we can’t read his heart.

Tim Pawlenty has second place locked up. He is the second choice for just about every Republican voter. It is an amazing feat for somebody who is completely anonymous. You can’t say that Pawlenty is a dark horse, because dark horse’s are not picked to finish second at the beginning of the race.

If political insiders picked the Presidential nominee, the primary would come down to two people, Haley Barbour and Mitch Daniels. Both would be terrific Presidents. Both have the chops to do the job. Daniels knocked them dead at the Gridiron (from what I hear, I didn’t go). But neither of them is well known to the wider voting public. Neither is registering in any poll at this juncture. And it is unclear if either is actually interested in running.

What the Republicans need is a Presidential candidate who is credible to independents and plausible to the base. They need to nominate someone who makes Barack Obama nervous, not someone who will give him great comfort. They need a candidate who passes the laugh test in the center, but also who passes the groan test on the right.

Obama is vulnerable. He makes a better symbol than he does a President. His lack of experience is catching up to him and to us. And with all the turmoil in the Middle East and in Asia, it doesn’t look like the economy is going to rebound as quickly as we all hoped.

But Republicans need to find somebody who can unify the party, swing the independent and split the Democrats. Right now, that candidate has yet to appear. And my sense is that the dream ticket will not be Allen West and Michelle Bachmann. But that is just my sense.