I will start this out by saying that I am usually wrong when I make political predictions (how did that Hillary Clinton-Rudy Giuliani face-off turn out in 2008?). But I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and in the off chance that I happen to be right, I just want it on the record. So here goes…
Mitt Romney will not be the Republican nominee for president in 2012. Neither will Newt Gingrich. And certainly not Ron Paul or Rick Santorum. No, the Republican candidate for president will be someone who isn’t even a candidate for president right now. It will be someone who will swoop in and snatch the nomination away, much to the delight of Republican voters who won’t much like the person who emerges with the most delegates from the primaries.
There are two ways this could go down -- one of the candidates, likely Romney, will have enough delegates to clinch the nomination by April or May. That’s plenty of time before the convention in late August for Republican leaders and their flock to determine that nobody really likes Romney and there is no possible way that he can beat President Obama. They will go looking for someone else.
Or that someone else, who is likely already working behind the scenes, will start talking publicly about Romney’s unelectability, whipping Republican voters into such a frenzy that reluctant party leaders will be forced to go along and ask delegates to change their allegiance.
Remember, candidates used to be picked at conventions. The current system of the convention being a coronation for an already-chosen candidate is a relatively new phenomenon. This would be a throwback to days gone by.
Who might that someone be? That’s the hard part. It has to be someone big. It can’t be Sen. Joe Nobody. It has to be someone known to voters, not someone who needs to introduce themselves to the nation for the first time. That doesn’t leave many options.
The logical choice is Sarah Palin. She might already be laying the groundwork for such an operation. After she announced in the fall that she was not running, she pretty much disappeared. But now Palin is slowly coming back, making television appearances and talking about the election. In a telling strategy, she has not endorsed anyone. She has expressed some support for Gingrich but has been critical of Romney. Expect that to continue as he piles up delegates.
I don’t think Palin could beat Obama, either, but she has a better chance than Romney. If anything she might excite and motivate Republicans to at least get and out vote and perhaps stop Democrats from taking back the House. Romney excites no one. Palin still has plenty of devoted followers, and she is just the type to go against the GOP establishment and attempt to pull this off.
Giuliani is another possibility. He is obviously known to everyone and is reasonably well-liked. Unfortunately, his big issue is terrorism and national security, and with Osama bin Laden dead and al-Qaeda severely weakened, Giuliani has lost his biggest selling point.
Jeb Bush? He might be a stronger candidate than Romney but I don’t think anyone is clamoring for a third Bush in the White House.
With the economy still in shambles, New York City Mayor and mega-billionaire Michael Bloomberg is another possibility. But would Republicans trust a pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, virulently anti-gun New Yorker who changes parties as often as he buys a new Bentley (he is now an independent after spending his life as a Democrat but switching to Republican for his three runs for mayor)?
There are other options out there that might emerge in the coming months, but whoever ends up being the Republican nominee, it will not be someone who is running right now. You heard it here first. Unless I am wrong, which is a definite possibility.