The Rise (and Rapid Fall) of Republican Presidential Candidates

September 27, 2011

There’s been a very noticeable and consistent pattern with Republican Presidential candidates this season. If you’ve been paying close attention you shouldn’t have missed it.

Of the primary candidates, Gary Johnson was the first to declare his candidacy back on April 21, 2011. Not having been a radical outspoken person prior to his announcement, Johnson didn’t get much attention. Few people really knew who he was. So there wasn’t a lot of hoo-hah over him. But on May 11, 2011 Newt Gingrich announced that he was throwing his hat in the ring, and the games pretty much started with him.

Over night Gingrich became popular, and was talked up a lot by the right-wing news media and many in the tea party. But it didn’t take long for him to fizzle.

After Gingrich, a couple of more jumped in, but not much was said about them. The most notable was Ron Paul, who has run for President several times in the past, and does have some tea party support.

Tim Pawlenty came out pretty strong on May 23, 2011. A lot of the far-right loved his talking points, which seemed to be geared to tea party members. But when Mitt Romney entered the games a couple of weeks later, Pawlenty kind of stagnated. Then on June 6, 2011 when Rick Santorum joined the fray, both Pawlenty and Romney took a hit in popularity. Suddenly, and for the moment, Santorum was the new hero of the right and the tea party.

But things really heated up on June 27, 2011 when Michele Bachmann announced that she wanted the President’s job. Immediately, everyone who had come out before her begin to wilt like a dying weed. Bachmann was now the prophet sent from above to solve the right-wing’s problems; and the tea party was all goggle-eyed. As far as they were concerned, the others could pack it up and go home. But then a funny thing happened on the way to forum.

On August 13, 2011 his majesty Rick Perry climbed in to claim the crown. My, my, my! The right, Wall Street and the tea party was all over him like flies on sugar. He was “the man”. Led by the tea party, Perry immediately sailed to the top in the polls. He was on a roll. But just as he was about to unofficially declare him self the primary winner, the phone rang.

On September 22, 2011, there was a GOP Presidential debate in Orlando, Florida. And most of the other candidates were lined up with their guns aimed directly at Perry; especially Romney and Bachmann. Santorum put in his 2 cents worth, but the damaged was really done by the former two. Perry stumbled.

By the next day, although still leading in the polls, Perry was on an obvious slide. Herman Cain, who really hadn’t been talked about a lot, won a straw poll in Florida over Perry. And Mitt Romney suddenly became the person that right-wing television, radio and bloggers were mentioning the most.

So what’s going on here? Are these candidates shooting themselves in the foot? Well, kinda!

What we’ve been witnessing is something we are already painfully familiar with, but may not have put it together yet. The popularity contest is being driven by the tea party; you know — the same group that has set our national agenda. (Kind of frightening when you consider that only about 18% of all voters declare themselves as tea party members.)

If you’re unsure of my conclusion, just think back over the past year.

While she has yet to declare her candidacy, Sarah Palin was the mouth of the tea party for two years, and they were in love with her. Even so, tea party leaders weren’t very uncomfortable with her as a Presidential candidate. They simply used her to advance their cause. They may have been the first to recognize that Palin really is nothing but a twit.

Prior to announcing their candidacy, Gingrich, Pawlenty, Santorum and Perry had used their pulpits to shout out all the things the tea party loves to hear. They engaged in favorite tea party talking points. So, one by one, as they announced their candidacy, they sailed to the top of the tea party charts. But so afterwards, knowing they couldn’t be elected by the tea party alone, they had to start acting like — and talking like — they had some sort of reasoning and logic; something the tea party doesn’t like or want.

Today the names being mentioned the most as the “real deal” is Romney and Gingrich. In fact, just today the head of the tea party movement, Judson Phillips, announced he was supporting New Gingrich, and Romney has resurfaced as the favorite of Wall Street. Perry still holds a lead in the polls, but the powers-to-be aren’t so sure of him now.

Although the drums are beating louder today for Chris Christie to enter the race, he has said he will not be running this season. That could change if Romney and Gingrich have a pretty bad stumble. But that’s not likely to happen. Well, maybe Gingrich will. Meanwhile, keep your eye on the ball; not what the tea party wants you to look at. But for America’s sake, don’t completely ignore who the tea party finally lines up behind — that’ll be the candidate you need to be very cautious of. If you don’t believe me, ask House Speaker John Boehner.


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