A brief rundown of the 2012 White House wannabees
Jonah Goldberg sizes up the possible GOP presidential contenders (presented in outline form by me):
1. By my count, 24 people benefit from nontrivial presidential buzz: Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, John Thune, Tim Pawlenty, Mitch Daniels, Mike Pence, Rick Santorum, Haley Barbour, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Paul Ryan, David Petraeus, Ron Paul, Jeb Bush, John Bolton, Bob McDonnell, Jim DeMint, Chris Christie, Herman Cain, Gary Johnson, Judd Gregg, Marco Rubio and Rick Perry.
2. Rubio, Ryan and Jindal … are all wisely sitting out the presidential contest … though the GOP’s three golden boys are ripe vice-presidential picks.
3. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and the governors of New Jersey, Virginia and Texas — Christie, McDonnell and Perry — probably aren’t running. … Also, there’s growing buzz that Huckabee … may not run because he’s got a big new contract with Fox News in the works.
4. DeMint … has said he’s not running but acts like he might be. … Gregg … acts likes he’s not running but hasn’t ruled it out. Pence … definitely wants to run but now may switch to the Indiana governorship.
5. Barbour … could be a front-runner (and a hilarious, adept debate opponent for Obama), but his plans remain murky.
6. In many respects, Thune is the GOP version of John Kerry: a candidate with presidential hair who seems “electable” despite not having done much.
7. That leaves us with a top tier of five front-runners: Romney, Palin, Gingrich, Pawlenty and Daniels. Romney is the organizational front-runner; Daniels is the first pick of wonks and DC eggheads; Palin probably has the most devoted following among actual voters; Gingrich will dominate the debates, and Pawlenty (vying with Daniels) is the least disliked.
I am beginning to think the field of legit contenders might actually be quite small in the end. But my dark horse entry is still Jeb Bush.