Fascinating stuff from Jim Geraghty, who gives you his sense of the GOP’s “first tier” of presidential contenders. His first tier consists of Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Rick Perry, and Bobby Jindal.
I still get the feeling Perry is going to surprise us with his next campaign, but I have no idea if he’ll surprise us with his sudden strength or with continued ineptitude on the campaign trail. Rubio has been working hard to mend fences with conservative primary voters, if not exactly working hard to build a southern fence. Jindal and/or Walker could prove formidable, although Jindal strikes me as wonkier than the mood of the electorate. Walker beat back the Wisconsin Deep State Democrat/Public Union Machine twice, and reportedly was on fire at this weekend’s big confab in Iowa.
Geraghty’s second tier? Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina. And I think Jim is really being too kind — Santorum, Carson, and Fiorina probably belong in an even lower tier named “Everybody Else.” However, Bill Whittle tells me he saw Fiorina speak recently, and that it was obvious she’d been taking lessons and learning them well. Geraghty notes that she’s actually running for Vice President, and that sounds right to me.
Here’s what Jim says about Paul:
He’ll have his dad’s network, and he’s way more compelling than his father was. But there’s a ceiling to Libertarian-minded candidates in the modern Republican Party, and it’s going to be tougher to sell quasi-isolationist non-interventionism as the world blows up and grows even more dangerous in Obama’s final two years in office.
I think Geraghty is correct on the second point, but on the first point I’m less certain about Geraghty’s estimation. Paul has been clever in wrapping up his libertarian leanings in populist language, and he’s likely to improve his messaging as he gets his feet wet in the early states. I doubt he’ll be the nominee, but his “ceiling” might prove to be a bit higher than most prognosticators have been prognosticating.
Christie reminds me of none other than former SecDef Donald Rumsfeld — he’s great when he’s giving better than he gets from the press, but not the right man for the job.
Cruz can be inspiring to true believers, but he needs to work on increasing his likability. He might prove to be the Complicit Media’s easy target in its attempt to discredit the entire GOP field.
I think Geraghty is correct in putting Mitt and Jeb in the second tier. I pray he’s correct.
Anyway, that’s my very early take — now go read Geraghty’s.