The GOP presidential field is wide open in 2012. Anybody who gets on a hot streak can run away with the nomination. But I like what I'm hearing from Tim Pawlenty in this interview with Bill O'Reilly.
The guy is likable. Here he delivered the right message against big spending (and we know he's against Obamacare). He zinged Obama a few times. He is even running on the "American exceptionalism" theme.
UPDATE: Jennifer Rubin and John Bolton get it too
First, there is, in fact, a rationale for a run by former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton. The other CPAC speeches were sorely short on foreign policy. It is jarring that those who want to be president have so little to say about transformative events. However, should he not run, it is interesting to note that Bolton sees promise in another candidate. Chris Cillizza reports:
- Asked after his speech whether he felt there had been enough discussion of Egypt at CPAC, Bolton demurred. "I don't want to comment on the other speakers," he said. "I saw Governor Pawlenty last night and I thought the points he made were right on target." However, he reiterated his call for more national security debate. "I think all of the Republican candidates basically share the same broad principles and it's a very well-qualified field," he said. "What I want do is have a more intense national debate to flesh their positions out."
More from Rubin:
-Pawlenty and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) exceeded expectations and suggested that there are plenty of "not Romney" candidates who can combine a genial personality with solid conservative positions.
-Fourth, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels gave a wonkish speech, but sure didn't seem like he understood the requirements of a presidential run (e.g., appealing to social conservatives).
-And finally, Romney showed himself to be the weakest frontrunner since, well, maybe Rudy Giuliani in 2008... there is no sign that he understands the enormity of his RomneyCare problem or has come up with a credible response.
Jennifer is right. I was a Mitch Daniels fan at the beginning, and thought that a technocrat, even a "boring" one, can defeat the ideologically extreme leftwinger occupant in the white house. I thought Obama was okay with being a one-term president as long as he gets his agenda done. But Obama wants to get re-elected after all (to prevent an Obamacare repeal), and is changing his tactics by moving to the center (after getting a lot done in his first 2 years in office eg stimulus, obamacare, financial reform).
Mitch Daniels may be right on the issues, but it is not enough to run on "spending cuts" or "The New Red Menace" as your primary message to the voters. It's not enough to beat someone who is determined to run as a "Centrist" like Obama. Even David Cameron did not campaign on big spending cuts. He needed to get elected first, then he reformed big government.