Tales from the Trail

Campaign’s over, so start campaigning

November 4, 2010

OBAMA/Finally get some shut-eye after Tuesday’s election? Well, rise and shine. 2012 is just around the corner and the presidential campaign is already getting under way.

Folks at the White House may be asking themselves if the humbled, chastened President Barack Obama will face a primary challenge from the Left.

That bit of speculation got churning after newly unemployed Senate Democrat Russ Feingold conceded defeat with the decidedly unchastened message: “It’s on to the next fight. It’s on to the next battle. It’s on to 2012. And it is on to our next adventure — forward!” FEINGOLD

Then the Washington political journal Politico wondered aloud if Obama’s almost meek-sounding response to the Republican midterm wave could make him vulnerable to a fiery challenge from Howard Dean.

According to the latest speculation, a primary challenge from the Left could weaken Obama in 2012 by making it much harder for him to galvanize his base for the general election. Teddy Kennedy did the same favor for Jimmy Carter in 1980.

Enter: Ronald Reagan.

The names of more than a dozen prospective Republican wannabes are already floating around. And some of them have lost no time in the USA-POLITICS/post-midterm race for recognition.
    
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, seen as a potential GOP frontrunner in 2012, was on MSNBC’s Morning Joe saying that one sweet spot for compromise between Obama and Republicans would be the reform of entitlement programs like that longstanding third rail of politics, Social Security. 
    
Pawlenty’s got it all figured out, as a potential presidential candidate should, and says reassuringly that there’s nothing scary involved, be ye beneficiary or politician.
    
“The American people aren’t stupid. They need people to look them in the eye and say: ‘Here’s the truth,” says the Republican governor from the traditionally Blue state. USA-POLITICS/
     
Just reduce cost-of-living increases for wealthier Americans and index the retirement age to reflect U.S. life expectancy, which happens to rank 38th globally (right behind Cuba’s). 
    
In an arena where size really does matter, political rock star Sarah Palin has long been the 2012 Republican prospect with the biggest public spotlight.

But for the moment, the midterms have raised questions about her judgment in backing Tea Party candidates like Christine O’Donnell whose combined fortunes may have cost Republicans any chance for control of the Senate.  Then there’s her role in the civil war that has engulfed the Alaska Republican Party since the death of patriarch Ted Stevens. The main battle there won’t be settled until state election officials determine how many Alaska write-in ballots spelled Republican incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski’s surname right. Otherwise the prize goes to Palin-endorsed Tea Partier Joe Miller.
USA/    
If Palin runs for president, Murkowski won’t be voting for her. Not exactly big news, right? But Murkowski may not be the only Republican who holds the view she shared with NBC: “I’m looking for somebody that has a breadth of experience, not only within government but just truly more a worldly approach. And I don’t think that Sarah Palin has that.”

Photo Credits: Reuters/Larry Downing (Obama); Reuters/Stringer (Feingold); Reuters/Jason Reed (Dean); Reuters/Jim Bourg (Pawlenty); Reuters/Brian Snyder (Palin)

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