The Republican intellectual class—led by the Wall Street Journal editorial board and the page of The Weekly Standard—can’t find a candidate to support among the current crop of GOP contenders to take on President Barack Obama next year.
POLITICO’s Jonathan Martin and Ben Smith write that “To many conservative elites, Rick Perry is a dope, Michele Bachmann is a joke, and Mitt Romney is a fraud.”
Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer and Weekly Standard editor William Kristol have been among the most outspoken in support of another candidate to enter the race.
Yesterday’s statement from Rep. Paul Ryan that he would not enter the race deflated the last, best hope of the Republican intelligentsia—already upset that such favourites as Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels decided to sit out the campaign.
Others who have stated emphatically that they will remain on the sidelines are former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie—both of whom have been under intense pressure from conservative elites to get in the race.
“It becomes a Perry vs. Romney race,” National Review senior editor Ramesh Ponnuru told POLITICO. “A lot of conservatives are going to find that unsatisfactory. You’ll probably have more people staying neutral than ever.”
It remains to be seen if any of the candidates still on the sidelines will declare, but for a party that will need the strength of a unified front to defeat Obama next year, that some of its most notable names are pining for another entrant is a troubling sign.