Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The 2012 Presidential Candidates: Pawlenty and Petraeus

Jonathan Bernstein beat me to this, but this is something that I have thought more and more about recently. Why are members of the press and the punditocracy going out of their way to pretend that Tim Pawlenty is not running for president? As Jonathan noted:
"No, actually, it [not seeking a third gubernatorial term, starting a PAC, etc.] does mean he's running for president. It doesn't mean he'll still be running by the time we get to the Ames straw poll, and doesn't mean he'll formally announce a candidacy or wind up contesting primaries and caucuses. For now, though, Pawlenty is running for president, and there's no point in observers keeping to the fictions that candidates must observe (because of political convention, but also because of campaign finance rules)."
Is there anyone out there who thinks Pawlenty is not running for 2012? He may not be running in 2012, but he's aiming for it.

It's funny, John Zaller (UCLA political scientist) was at UGA about 18 months ago for a lecture and discussed the underlying model from The Party Decides. As he and his co-authors developed the model, Mark Warner served as the ideal combination of appeals to the various wings (interests, elites) of the Democratic Party. And it certainly looked in 2005-2006 as if Warner was going to run. He had finished his time as governor in Virginia, he had established a PAC and ventured onto the speaking circuit. Of course, not even six months after that appearance before the Netroots, Warner was out. Was Warner running for 2008? Yes, but he didn't end up running in 2008.

And Pawlenty doesn't even have a Hillary Clinton-type looming as the assumed standard bearer for the party.

And Petraeus?

Well, earlier in the week, The New York Times raised the possibility of a general with a smaller voice in/with a new administration being motivated to run against that administration in 2012. I'll admit that is an interesting theory -- it has definitely been talked about -- but even if his role has been diminished on matters such as Afghanistan, wouldn't there have to be a fundamental shift in the public's focus from domestic to foreign policy issues for the general to be an effective candidate? If Afghanistan deteriorates to the point that it supersedes the economy as the main issue in 2012 (and I suppose it could), then maybe. But what kind of chops does Petraeus have on domestic issues or more importantly economic matters? Is it just me or am I missing something here? Now, he could be a solid candidate, but we know nothing about his stances on things on the home front.

Recent Posts:
State of the Race: New Jersey (10/6/09)

Here's what things would have looked like in New Jersey had the Rasmussen poll been released tomorrow.

State of the Race: Virginia Governor (10/5/09)


Robert said...

Don't count Petreaus out. It worked so well for Wesley Clark, not to mention Douglas McArthur. The last general we elected President was Eisenhower. I don't see how we will elect another general until we win a grand war. Schwartzkopf was the last general that had any chance to become President.

Josh Putnam said...

For shame, Rob. Colin Powell begs to differ.

Robert said...

Sorry about that Colin. I can't believe I overlooked him. Colin Powell made his name in the Executive Branch rather than as a General. He followed the Alexander Haig model with much more success. If you look at the generals who became President, they were all war heroes. Powell and Haig were not.