Why Candidates Are Running

The nature of deadlines inconveniently means that you will know the results of the New Hampshire primary by the time you read this, though Common Sense does not know them at the time of writing. Let us hope those results do not make this column ridiculous.

Mitt Romney is running to be President. It is his turn. He would be capable and competent. His campaign is very reminiscent of another Massachusetts politician, John Kerry. Kerry, long a contender in neighboring New Hampshire, unexpectedly won Iowa, leading to a triumph in New Hampshire, after which he was not seriously challenged. John Edwards won South Carolina – the state in which he was born – but the South no longer matters to Democrats. Howard Dean won his home state of Vermont, but Kerry won the other 48 states. Republican primaries are rarely that orderly. No non-incumbent has ever won both Iowa and New Hampshire, and Romney could be the first, but he will be seriously challenged in the South. His best hope is that Ron Paul comes second in New Hampshire. Romney could then win South Carolina and Florida, in which case all candidates apart from Paul will pull out.

Rick Santorum is also running to be President, but probably not this time. If he scores an unexpectedly good showing in New Hampshire and wins South Carolina, he could, conceivably, make a race of this. His fundraising will have taken a huge boost since his virtual tie in Iowa. The longer timeline makes this, just about, possible but he does not have the infrastructure in most states to compete.. However, it is more likely that his campaign will fade after South Carolina. He might win the states that voted for Mike Huckabee last time. Then, in 2016 or 2020, he will run again. Then it will be his turn.

The Ron Paul for President campaign is all about Paul for President, but not Ron Paul. It is aboutRand Paul’s campaign in a future year. Ron Paul wants to prepare the ground for this. There is a ceiling on his vote of 25-30%, which made Iowa a perfectly reasonable target, of which, he fell slightly short. He cannot win, because the overwhelming majority of Republicans disagree with him on national security issues, and this is an insuperable barrier. He wants to move the GOP in a more libertarian direction so that his slightly less doctrinaire son can win another time. He has the enthusiastic supporters and campaign infrastructure to stay in the race as long as he wishes. He will, however, campaign tirelessly for the ultimate nominee, probably arguing that repealing Obamacare is the main issue for rolling back big government. This is the only way he can make nice with the establishment without offending his very anti-establishment base.

Rick Perry is hoping against hope he can make a breakthrough in South Carolina and Florida. He has the money and organization to compete with Romney if he does. If not, back to Texas.

Newt Gingrich also hopes for a breakthrough in New Hampshire and South Carolina, but now it is mostly about book sales.

John Huntsman is running for Secretary of State. A former governor and ambassador he would serve with distinction. If anyone but Romney is the nominee, he could be running mate, but he and Romney are both Mormons, so that can’t work.

Article provided by Quentin Langley
Lecturer in PR and Political Communications,
School of Journalism, Cardiff University

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