With the economy still struggling to gain traction and with President Obama’s approval rating sliding to record lows, Republicans should be positively giddy about their odds of winning back the White House in 2012.
However, as The Wall Street Journal’s Monday editorial asserts, conservatives are worried that each of their party’s emerging front-runners in the presidential primary — Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Mitt Romney — may be too weak to take advantage of a favourable political climate and topple Obama next year.
Despite her first place finish in Saturday’s Ames Straw Poll, Bachmann has little legislative experience and a history of misstatements. The Journal goes so far as to call her refusal to support a debt deal without first passing a balanced budget amendment, “political fantasy.” By contrast, Perry has a strong economic track record, but the Texas Governor’s “Lone Star swagger” may not play well to voters in battleground states.
As for Romney, the Journal flatly labels him a “weak frontrunner,” and notes that the rise of Bachmann and Perry alone is, “more evidence that GOP voters continue to have doubts about their candidates.”
Given Obama’s precarious position, Republicans are particularly eager for a strong challenger to step up and present voters with a viable alternative next November, someone with both the charisma and experience to unite disparate factions. Yet as even the Journal acknowledges, that dream candidate may not exist right now.
“If the current field isn’t up to that, perhaps someone still off the field will step in and run. Now would be the time.”