Predicting the 2012 GOP Presidential Ticket

With 2012 less than 500 days away and just a few months left before the November midterm elections, there is no better time to predict the 2012 Republican presidential ticket, because no one else in their right mind would dare.


Yes, I am aware that predictions of this nature are usually worthless, but they are fun nevertheless, and who doesn’t need some fun in these last depressing days of President Obama’s Orwellian-sounding “Recovery Summer”?

(Which leads one to ask: Does “Recovery Fall” start in September? Or did Recovery Fall eclipse Recovery Summer way back in June?)

These are questions for another time. But as for the 2012 GOP ticket, my prediction as of now is: Governor Haley Barbour and Governor Mitch Daniels.

This would be a historic governor-governor ticket.

In fact, back in March of this year, I co-wrote a Daily Beast column with Mark McKinnon about the strong possibility that the 2012 GOP presidential and vice presidential nominees would come from the statehouse. Now it’s time to stick my neck out and predict these two governors will be the eventual headliners.

In the Daily Beast column, we listed two-term Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour among the vice-presidential contenders, but respectably called him “king of the Republican governors” because of his chairmanship of the Republican Governors Association (RGA).

We wrote, “Barbour is someone to watch because he will be so influential in the 2010 governor’s races and will be a mainstay on the national news shows.”

Still true today, but here is the big difference between March of this year and now: Haley Barbour as RGA chairman has emerged as the de facto leader of the entire Republican Party (a post Barbour actually held from 1993 to 1997). This has been accelerated by the disastrous tenure of Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele.


Now Politico calls Governor Barbour the “most powerful Republican in American politics, at least for the next three months.” This refers to the $40 million he has raised as RGA chairman and his political operative skills, which will most likely lead to an increase in the number of victorious Republican governors among the 37 states holding gubernatorial elections in November.

Of course, if he is successful, Barbour will not only keep that “most powerful Republican”  title along with an impressive stack of IOUs. On November 3, you will also begin reading about how Haley Barbour was the “real winner” of the midterms and hearing hours of  “will he or won’t he run” cable chatter.

The answer is “yes.” Haley Barbour will run and he will be the 2012 GOP presidential nominee.

Back in January of this year, Newsweek called him the “Anti-Obama” and “Mr. Fix It.” Both titles are even more accurate now and position him well for 2012.

Haley Barbour is a governor who has weathered Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and now the Gulf oil spill, state-level crises of the magnitude normally reserved for presidents. His stature has risen through both tragedies.

According to a July Rasmussen poll, Governor Barbour had a 70% approval rating in Mississippi.

Barbour was first elected Mississippi governor in 2003 with 53% of the vote. He was re-elected in 2007 with 58% of the vote. Quite a feat considering he presided over a state where 47 out of 82 counties were declared Katrina disaster areas.

Barbour’s Katrina leadership has been compared to the 9/11 leadership of Rudy Giuliani, propelling a little known Southern governor into the national spotlight.


His second term ends in 2011, and he is term limited. Nice timing for a 2012 run.

Haley Barbour will have the organization, money, experience, and political savvy to turn his RGA fiefdom into Barbour 2012. According to Politico, “his logic is simple: When he surveys what most Republicans consider to be a weak field, he sees no reason he couldn’t easily beat them. He is a better strategist and fundraiser than any other candidate currently considering running — and just as good on television and in debates, his thinking goes.”

Which really means that on November 3 look for Haley Barbour to start being the political equivalent of Hurricane Katrina — wiping out his opponents with Category 5 wind gusts.

Finally, after the hurricane passes, he will still have a unique advantage: everyone who is anyone in Republican politics on the national or state level already has a friendship or at least a working relationship with Haley Barbour.

If Republican inner circles were a small town, he would be the mayor — a most powerful mayor who knows exactly how to get what he wants.

In this same Daily Beast article, we called Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels “the man to watch” among the presidential gubernatorial contenders.

Daniels, a popular two-term governor, knows how to painfully balance a budget and create jobs in a Rust Belt state. As a result, he’s had much media buzz speculating on whether he will or won’t run.

The Economist, in a recent profile, headlines that he has “the right stuff” for 2012.

Even though Daniels is not a charismatic media candidate, he has that “every man” ability to connect with voters. In 2008, he was re-elected with 58% of the vote, an 18-point margin, in a traditionally red state that turned Obama-blue.


Daniels is also a Washington player, having served as George W. Bush’s first Office of Management and Budget director until June of 2003.

He has conservative credentials and the Weekly Standard gifted him with a long glowing cover story in June. You can not help but like this man after you read it.

Governor Daniels is still “very watchable,” but it may only be in a supporting role.

For now, he doesn’t have the organization and fund-raising apparatus in place for a presidential race that unofficially begins on Nov 3.

Daniels is only flirting with the idea of running for president, and I believe he will decline, but not for lack of organization or funds.

It’s way more personal.

Governor Daniels and Governor Barbour are pals. Rumor has it they have had a conversation and the “deal” is only one of them runs for the top slot.

Gee, I wonder who that will be.

That rumor only strengthens my prediction that Daniels will end up in the #2 spot with Barbour at #1.

Sounds like good long-term planning for a VP pick, for there will be no embarrassing sound bites slamming each other in a debate.

It also gives Barbour one less car to pass on nomination highway.

Now since any governor-governor ticket would be perceived as light on foreign policy experience, Haley Barbour should ask General David Petraeus to retire and enlist his services as secretary of State. How could Petraeus resist walking in the footsteps of Generals George Marshall and Colin Powell, being the history buff that he is?

This governor-governor pairing especially brings desperately needed executive level managerial and budget balancing experience to the White House. There are skills Obama and Biden sorely lack. Between the two of them, they have never run a business, never balanced a budget, never met a payroll, and never created a job.


Perhaps that is why “Summer of Recovery” became the “Fall of Recovery,” with its backsliding economy and 61.3% of Americans believing this nation is on the wrong track.

Maybe the Barbour/Daniels ticket will finally hammer home the message that Americans loath to hear: our current budget and debt are unsustainable, and our very survival as a nation is a stake.

Not exactly a cheery 2012 bumper sticker, but one we all need to recognize as truth.

For this governor-governor ticket will be forced to run on an economic reality check, because all the hope and change along with “Recovery Summer” has slipped away.


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