Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, hyped by the White House and the liberal media — never a good sign — as the GOP’s best hope, has decided to bow out of a 2012 bid for the White House. While Daniels has earned a fair amount of credibility as a budget cutter, some question his conservative credentials, especially amid the “strange new respect” Daniels has earned from the Obama White House and the liberal media of late.
While he may come by his reputation unfairly, Daniels bowing out actually increases the chances of a more reliable conservative winning the nomination; the most prominent RINOs still in the race are Mitt Romney and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.
Of those who have declared, the clear favorite for my money – at the moment – is Herman Cain. He’s the best speech giver and public speaker, and has a wide resume in both government work and the private sector, and has succeeded pretty much at every step along the way.
Newt Gingrich’s time is passed; his expiration date arrived when he attacked the Paul Ryan budget and coined the term “right-wing social engineering.” Might not be a RINO yet, but he’s certainly a RINO-in-training.
Gary Johnson has no chance, and neither do Fred Karger, Tom Miller, Tim Pawlenty, Vern Weunsche.
Who’s left? Rick Santorum doesn’t fire me up; Ron Paul does, but not in a good way. And Mitt Romney is a RINO, and the last thing I want to see is another John McCain fiasco.
So who’s left?
Plenty of promising conservatives, that’s for sure.
There’s Michele Bachmann, who is more likely to end up as someone else’s running mate. There’s John Bolton, who would bring a lot of needed honesty and foreign policy experience. And there’s a dark-horse move to draft Texas Governor Rick Perry, which wouldn’t be a half-bad idea.
I’m less than interested in Charlie Crist and Lindsay Graham. And Jon Huntsman is a nobody.
And then there’s Sarah Palin, who could be the best of them all … except for Herman Caine.
So here’s my list, in order of preference, at the moment, for the top of the GOP ticket.
1. Herman Cain
2. Sarah Palin
3. Rick Perry
4. Michele Bachmann
5. John Bolton
All of those in my Top 5 are far more conservative than Romney, Pawlenty, Gingrich and Santorum. I’d vote for any one of those five over President Obama in a hot second. But especially Cain.
And the future looks bright for the GOP. Here are some names to keep in mind for 2016, 2020 and beyond: Chris Christie, Scott Walker, Paul Ryan, Bobby Jindal, Jan Brewer, Nikki Haley, Susanna Martinez, and Mary Fallin. They are all powerful conservatives and the political equivalent of unlocked cell phones.