It’s never too early: Possible 2012 Republican candidates

A little over a month ago, Barack Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States. The race was grueling and, in many cases, tedious, but some are already starting to look towards the future and predict what will be in store for the 2012 campaign.

Each side will have two goals; the Democrats will most likely be focused on keeping Obama in office, barring some type of setback. In the red corner, the Republicans will be looking to regain influence in the now liberal White House. So which candidates can the American people expect to see in four years? Many of them may seem very familiar.

Some of the names being thrown around are politicians that have played a significant role in 2008. Whether it’s former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, or former Republican nominees Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney, the 2012 elections (for the conservatives) might be a flashback of this past election. So, out of these contenders, which one has the most appeal or the greatest chance of winning? With the help of Marist College Political Science major, Andrew Clinkman, this article will discuss a little bit about the potential Republican candidates.

First off is the person that became the center of attention late in the 2008 race, Sarah Palin. The Alaskan Governor showed real potential as former Presidential candidate John McCain’s running mate, drew a large following with her “everyday American” attitude.

“Sarah Palin has a charisma that really energized the Republican base and helped out McCain’s campaign for some time,” Clinkman said.

While many people complained that Palin wasn’t cut out to be in the White House and cited her lack of experience, it should be known that many of her policies are similar to that of other Republican nominees. So provided she can learn to deal with tough questions and interviewers such as Katie Couric, Palin might be a sleeper to win the Republican ticket in 2012.

Next up is former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. After this past Super Tuesday (the day where 24 states had caucuses or primaries), Romney “suspended” his campaign and endorsed John McCain. He is a more moderate Republican compared to Sarah Palin, which might appeal to a country which seems to be in the process of leaning more to the left.

“Romney is very intelligent and has executive experience [as CEO of Bain & Company],” Clinkman, a Massachusetts native, said. “I think he could make a very good president.”

Romney’s smarts and ability to manage are all great qualities, but his middle-of-the-road viewpoints could get him in trouble. He has been labeled a flip-flopper by some conservative commentators, citing issues such as his somewhat liberal stance on stem-cell research.  Romney believes is ethical though he does not necessarily support its federal funding. Also, watch out for his Mormon upbringing to be a factor.

Finally, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is likely to be in the running for the Republicans in 2012. Huckabee, though he hasn’t guaranteed his name in the race, is being seen as the most likely Republican candidate. In a CNN poll on December 5, Huckabee topped the list of possible contenders for the Republican ticket.  Knowing his strong Southern Baptist influence, his views are somewhat more extreme than other Republican candidates.

“Mike Huckabee is pretty much the exact opposite of Barack Obama in many ways, so if the country is not happy with how Obama has run the country they might like him a lot,” Clinkman said. “He seems very real and genuine, and has a good sense of humor that people respond well to.”

Huckabee seemed to agree with many of President George W. Bush’s ideals, including full support of the troop surge in Iraq and immigration plans. Huckabee could be a good contrast to Barack Obama’s likely campaign in 2012. It will depend if the Republicans are willing to support a far-right conservative or if there is more of a moderate influence in the coming years.

Ultimately, the next election will come down to how well Obama does as president. If he is as successful as some Democrats say he will be, then it will be much harder for a Republican candidate to claim victory in a run for the White House. Needless to say, it will be quite interesting to see how the next four years unfold.

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