Symposium 2011: What is your outlook for the 2012 presidential election? Any frontrunners in the Republican party?

Sydney:  Mitt Romney looks like the standout Republican at the moment, judging by his wins in the most recent primaries. I think he is likely to win the Republican nomination over Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. He will need to pick a well credentialed running mate because Obama will be difficult to beat, especially if jobs growth continues.


Obama might not be doing the best job at the moment and he’s definitely not the best President we’ve ever had but he is very charismatic. As long as there are no major disasters in the rest of the year, and the economy doesn’t go backwards any further, he’ll be very difficult to beat. He will be hoping that Europe can solve its problems because if it doesn’t the economy will be in real trouble.


Michigan:  Ok, so I’m a Republican.  I have had my good eye on Romney.  Mostly, because he is not a career politician.  Yes, he goes in and fires people.  Do we have anyone in the government that needs to be fired?  He may not play the game in Washington if elected but then again he may fall right into it as everyone else does.  Newt knows the ropes better than all the rest.  Just something about him I can’t get comfortable with.  Santorum?  Maybe a long shot.  Paul is a nice guy but not much hope there.


RMC:  Personally, I think President Obama is going to have an uphill battle against the Republican candidates.  There are a lot of people who supported Obama back in 2008 who are disillusioned with the failings of his message of change now.  Some of those people, particularly the college kids who supported him four years ago, are probably feeling burned and may not vote at all.  There are plenty of college graduates who don’t have jobs now, despite Obama’s message of hope and change back in 2008.  He’s going to have a hard time convincing those people that he deserves another four years.  And I think a lot of people are tired of hearing the excuse that he inherited this mess.  He owns everything that has happened since he was elected.  So, I think he may have a hard time.


This election is really about the economy.  With regards to the Republican candidates, I like Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry.  I think Herman Cain was a great candidate but the establishment was afraid of him so they forced him out of the race.  His 9-9-9 plan is exactly what this country needs.  Newt has credibility as former Speaker of the House and the only candidate who can say that he balanced the budget.  Newt’s 21st Century Contract with America is a great, well thought out plan.  Is it perfect?  No, but no plan really is perfect.  Nonetheless, it’s the type of plan that we need in these troubled times.


Rick Perry is governor of Texas which has something like the eleventh largest economy in the world, and things seem to be going well in Texas.  I think he knows a thing or two about running an economy and creating jobs.  Plus, he’s got this Reganesque look and demeanor about him that I think resonates with a lot of folks.


Ron Paul has some really good ideas but he’s not electable.  Rick Santorum is a great guy with a good conservative background, but I’m not convinced he’s going to get very far.  I don’t really care for Mitt Romney at all.  To me, he’s a RINO, you know, the Republican In Name Only.  I think he’s the Republican party’s Obama.  He may be a good businessman but given Romneycare I don’t think he can beat Obama.  Huntsman and Bachman can just go home.  They have no chance whatsoever.


One good thing going for the Republican party is this anti-Obama sentiment that will definitely get people out to vote.  I’m not sure people will necessarily be voting for the Republican candidate, whoever that may be, as much as they will be voting against President Obama.  We saw that to some degree in 2008 where people were more interested in casting a vote against the Republicans.


If I had to venture a guess at this point, I’d say that it’s probably going to be a three man race between Romney, Gingrich, and Perry.  The media loves Mitt Romney and is really pushing him as the ‘inevitable’ candidate, but it’s a long road to the convention, and I think that Newt and Rick Perry pull a lot of support in areas where Romney is weak.  It will definitely be interesting to see.  In 2008, the nominating contest was pretty well over after Florida, but I think this cycle it could go all the way to the convention.


I’d point out, however, just to be fair that I don’t have a really good track record in things like this. Four years ago you may recall that I backed Fred Thompson and that didn’t quite work out, and I figured Hillary Clinton or John Edwards would be the Democratic nominee.  I wasn’t even close.


Cartwright:  The Republicans have a couple of good candidates.  I’m not a fan of Mitt Romney either, and I will not support him in this presidential election.  I haven’t decided who exactly I am going to endorse at this point, though it certainly won’t be Romney.  I like Rick Perry and Rick Santorum.  Newt Gingrich is always the smartest man in the room, and I think it would be a great debate between him and the President.  Ron Paul has some good ideas and a really good grass roots organization, but he’s not going to win.


I think that whoever gets the nomination is going to have a tough time beating Obama.  The President has a well oiled machine with something like a billion dollars to spend on the campaign.  He’ll simply outspend the Republicans.  Second, there doesn’t really seem to be any enthusiasm for any of the Republican candidates.  They each have their supporters, but there’s no one who is really energizing the electorate.  That, to me, is very dangerous and sets Obama up very well for re-election.  I certainly don’t think he should be re-elected; he’s failed this nation miserably, but he’s the sitting president, and it is tough to unseat them.  Besides, a lot can happen between now and next November, so don’t be surprised if he gets re-elected.  Over half of the electorate was brain dead and voted for him back in 2008; that doesn’t say much about the voters and their judgment, but it does give him some room to maneuver.


I really think the Republicans candidates need to hammer home how Obama’s policies have failed to get America back on a sound economic track.  Rather than attacking each other, let’s focus on the issues and how each one compares to the President and how they would be better as commander in chief than the incumbent.  The Republicans have a good opportunity to pick up some swing voters, which may just be enough to tilt the election, but they’ve got to be smart about how they court those voters.  They need a bold, clear, and credible message with specific plans not broad ideas.


There is a good possibility according to the prediction markets that the Republicans will retain the House of Representatives and take a majority in the Senate.  Sadly, the same prediction markets indicate Obama has a better than 50% chance at being re-elected.  This may not be a bad thing, however.  If the Republicans control the entire Congress, they can pretty well force some things upon the president or create enough gridlock that nothing gets done for four years.


Look, Obama certainly hasn’t done anything to earn re-election.  The failures far outweigh any victories.  He makes Jimmy Carter look like the Ronald Reagan of the Democratic party, which is pretty sad.

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