McConnell sees 2012 presidential race wide open, no Republican heir apparent

August 2, 2010

Who will lead the Republican Party in the 2012 presidential race?

USA/Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell says plenty of Republicans will throw their hat into that ring, especially if Democratic President Barack Obama’s popularity stays on the low side.

What about Sarah Palin? The Tea Party favorite appears to be positioning herself for a possible run — she’s endorsing candidates in this year’s midterm elections and taking on Democrats when there’s an opening.

“I think she’s going to be one of a number of Republican leaders who are going to be looking at the presidential contest after the election,” McConnell said in a Reuters interview. “They’re all viable.”

He wouldn’t name names since he didn’t want to accidentally leave someone out, but he said: “It’s going to be a wide open contest, I don’t think there’s any particular heir apparent.”

McConnell refused to be drawn out specifically on Palin. When asked how valuable she had been for the midterm elections coming up in November, he responded: “They’re all out there making endorsements.”

“They’re all out there stirring around, which is in my view a smart thing to do, so they can pick up as many chits as possible during the course of this election and plausibly claim after the election that maybe they had something to do with the outcome,” he said.

In the midterm elections, McConnell like an auctioneer rattled off the states where he sees Republicans competitive for Democratic Senate seats, without pausing for a breath.

“We are competitive or ahead in the following places where there are currently Democratic senators: California, Washington, Nevada, Colorado, Illinois, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Indiana, North Dakota, Arkansas and Wisconsin,” he said. ”That is not the same as predicting we’re going to win all of those.”

“But my point is, we’re on offense. Last two cycles we were on defense,” he said.

What about Mitch McConnell for 2012? “No I have the job that I always wanted.”

So that’s one senior Republican who says he won’t be running…

Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Young (McConnell during Reuters interview)

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