So says Ken Rudin, who writes NPR’s daily political blog, Political Junkie. Dismissing House and Senate Republicans, he focuses on governors as the future of the GOP. This narrowing of the list omits Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Newt Gingrich, among others. Here is his list: 1. Tim Pawlenty (MN) 2. Jon Huntsman (UT) 3. Haley Barbour (MS) 4. Bobby Jindal (LA) 5. Charlie Crist (FL) 6. Mitch Daniels (IN) 7. Sarah Palin (AK) 8. Rick Perry (TX) 9. Mark Sanford (SC) 10. Jodi Rell (CT) 11. Bob Riley (AL) 12. Sonny Perdue (GA) 13. Mike Rounds (SD) 14. John Hoeven (ND) 15. Butch Otter (ID) 16. Dave Heineman (NE) 17. Jim Douglas (VT) 18. Don Carcieri (RI) 19. Linda Lingle (HI) 20. Jan Brewer (AZ) 21. Arnold Schwarzenegger (CA) 22. Jim Gibbons (NV) This is not exactly a list of giants. 1. Pawlenty is a solid governor who should have been McCain’s pick for vice president. His recent announcement that he would not seek reelection in 2010 is attributed to (choose one) the possibility that he could be defeated by a Democrat in a liberal state; or that he has made up his mind to run for president in 2012. 2. Huntsman, who speaks fluent Mandarin, is Obama’s nominee to be ambassador to China. He is a Mormon, a religious affiliation that was a disadvantage for Mitt Romney in 2008. Huntsman addressed the issue on Fox, in a 2006 interview with Neil Cavuto: “And people hear about Mormons, and they think, gosh, they are a different breed or culture. But, you know, we have five U.S. senators. We have 18 in the House of Representatives. We have some of the great CEOs in America. We are just normal people, like everybody else. And, for some reason or another, people mischaracterize us.” 3. Barbour is a shrewd politician and political operative — he’s a former tobacco lobbyist who looks the part — who knows his way around Washington. He has just inherited the chairmanship of the Republican Governors Association from the lovelorn Mark Sanford. Asked this morning by Face the Nation’s Bob Schieffer about whether he might run in 2012, Barbour said, “I don’t have any plan to. I don’t have any intention to. Right now, I think every Republican who wants to rebuild our party needs to be focused on elections of 2009 and ‘10. I mentioned the New Jersey and the Virginia governors’ races, both very competitive and very important. We have 37 governors’ races next year, plus the entire House of Representatives, a third of the Senate. I’m not going to give any thought to running for anything until after the 2010 election. I’d be very surprised if I ended up running for president, but I can’t just say flatly no. But I would be very surprised. My wife would be even more surprised.” 4. Jindal blew a big opportunity when Republicans sought to elevate him to star status by tabbing him to give the Republican response to Obama’s State of the Union address. His speech was full of cliches (“As a child, I remember going to the grocery store with my dad. Growing up in India, he had seen extreme poverty. And as we walked through the aisles, looking at the endless variety on the shelves, he would tell me: ‘Bobby, Americans can do anything'”) and a relentless cheerfulness. Critics compared him to 30 Rock’s Kenneth the Page. (Click here for a video clip.) Despite a vigorous defense by Rush Limbaugh, Jindal’s star seems to have faded somewhat. 5. Crist is a popular and successful governor who has decided to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Mel Martinez rather than seek a another term. A potential budget crisis may have influenced that decision. Crist doesn’t fit the southern Republican mold. He’s regarded as a moderate, especially on environmental issues, and, as seems to be the case with all single male Republicans, his personal life is the subject of unsubstantiated rumors that are all over the Web. (Crist married last year.) 6. Daniels is probably the best qualified of the lot, a former president of Eli Lilly, the pharmaceutical giant, and director of OMB for Bush 43. Earlier this month, National Review editor Rich Lowry wrote of Daniels in gushing terms: “In a new Gallup Poll asking who is the national leader of the Republican party, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels didn’t even rate an asterisk. That’s unsurprising. The governor of the country’s 16th-most-populous state won’t normally garner much national attention, especially when he’s an unassuming, old-school budget cutter. “It’s also a shame, because more than any other Republican officeholder, Daniels points the way ahead for his bedraggled party. He’s a Reaganite who is not trapped in 1980s nostalgia; he’s a fiscal conservative who believes not just in limiting government, but in reforming it to address people’s everyday concerns; he’s a politician of principle who refuses to sell his program in off-puttingly partisan or ideological terms.” 7. Palin — Most people have already made up their minds how they feel about her. From the Anchorage Daily News, June 9: “Palin had a 54 percent positive and 41.6 negative rating in the latest publicly released poll measuring her popularity among Alaskans. The Hays Research poll, a month ago, showed the governor’s numbers down dramatically from 86 percent positive almost exactly a year before.” The poll has a small sample (400) and does not differentiate between D’s and R’s. In a Newsweek Poll in late October 2008, Romney was the leader for the 2012 GOP nomination (35%), followed by Huckabee (26%) and Palin (20%). 8. Perry — Don’t laugh, but … why not? He looks very good in a Republican primary setting. At a time when the economy is the biggest issue, Perry can claim that Texas is in the best shape of any state in the country. He never strays far from the conservative line on any issue, whether fiscal or social. He doesn’t get a lot of respect at home, but the rest of the country doesn’t know that. He is a ferocious campaigner and a natural on TV. His inner circle wants him to run. As is the case with his race for reelection, he is more vulnerable in a general election than in a primary; His record in public education, health, and environmental issues is poor. The biggest thing standing in his way is that the country is not likely to elect another president from Texas any time soon — especially one who talks about possible secession: “There’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”
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