The Republican presidential field is nearly complete. There is a possibility that Texas Governor Rick Perry might enter the field. Other than that, however, its pretty probable that the 2012 Republican nominee will be one of the current Republican candidates running.
The Republican presidential field has been criticized as weak, lacking a charismatic candidate. It’s hard to tell how valid this criticism really is; after all, if a Republican wins in 2012 nobody will remember what people are saying today. Many Republicans take heart by comparing their current field to the 1992 Democratic field, which was also criticized as extremely weak. That field, of course, turned out have the best politician in a generation.
One way to evaluate the strength of the Republican candidates is by comparing them to Senator Barack Obama in 2007. I’ve recently, somewhat on a whim, come upon a video of Mr. Obama during that time. It’s an interview on The Daily Show, back during the days when Mr. Obama was trailing Senator Hillary Clinton badly.
I highly encourage anybody interested in the 2012 presidential election to watch this video. It’s very interesting to see Mr. Obama back then, not as the president, but rather as just another merely ambitious senator.
Watching the interview, it does seem that Mr. Obama is a better politician than the current Republicans running for president – especially front-runner Mitt Romney. He sounds intelligent and quite thoughtful. Of course, this is very subjective; Republicans will probably disagree with this viewpoint, Democrats will wholeheartedly support it.
Nevertheless, there is one thing in which Mr. Obama does obviously outdo his Republican opposition – a thing which can be measured objectively. This is that he inspired much more passion in 2007 than any of the Republican candidates currently running. When Mr. Obama walks into the room, the crowd roars in excitement. Some supporters yell, “Barack, Barack.” Host Jon Stewart then starts the interview by noting:
You…The effect you have on a crowd, it is, it’s unusual for a politician. You do have…there is a certain inspiration quality to you.
It’s difficult to imagine anything similar happening with any Republican candidate currently running. People do not yell “Michele, Michele” during Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s interviews.
This is one advantage that President Barack Obama seems to have; even in 2010, on the eve of massive Democratic losses, Mr. Obama was able to draw crowds of 35,000 to his rallies.
Republicans will gleefully point out that they won anyways, and that passion alone does not win elections. There is a lot of truth to this; one passionate voter is worth the same as one voter who could care less.
But at the very least, it is better to have passionate supporters than not to have them.