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In an exclusive interview on The Hutchinson Report Newsmaker Hour with host Earl Ofari Hutchinson on KTYM 1460 AM Los Angeles on March 4, CBS Political Analyst Dave Bryan
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EOH: What are the strengths and weaknesses of Newt Gringrich and is he viable as a candidate?
DB: Gingrich has been most active recently in forming a committee to raise funds. He is one of the old lions and has name ID. Everybody knows Newt Gingrich. He’s got a lot of good will among the party base and he’s seen as an idea guy, a guy who is a big thinker and proposes a lot of innovative ways of approaching Republican goals. On the other hand, he’s on his 3rd marriage. That doesn’t go over well with the conservative Christian element of the Republican Party. In fact, when he resigned his seat it was in the midst of a messy scandal question about his ethics and he was having an affair with a lady who later became his 3rd wife.
EOH: What about Sarah Palin?
DB: Sarah Palin has name ID, having run for Vice President in 2008. She has a broad appeal to the conservative wing of the Republican Party, including the Tea Party element. She has grass roots fund raising ability, and a very strong and dedicated following among social conservatives. She is an expert at getting free coverage in the media, so she doesn’t have to spend as much money as some of the other candidates. On the other hand, she has not demonstrated the organizational capacity to run something on the level of a presidential campaign in terms of structure and strategy. Many people who like Palin appreciate the fact she is a very straight forward, clear speaking individual. The flip side is that she has become a very polarizing candidate. There are as many people who dislike her and feel she does not have the quality necessary to be President. Some people feel she and the family have gone Hollywood and strayed too far from being a serious Presidential candidate.
EOH: What is the feeling about Michele Bachmann?
DB: She is making sounds, and she stated on Good Morning America that she’s trying to set the table, because voters are vital in some of the early states. I think Michele Bachmann would be considered 2nd or 3rd tier candidate. In the eyes of some she would be a poor woman’s Sarah Palin. She appeals to Tea Party Activists and has strong support. If she runs, she may drain some support away from Palin in states where there could be close races. Like Palin, Bachmann is a polarizing figure. The question is can she broaden her support from the Tea Party. She would have some considerable work to do in that area. This is a wide open year and who knows what could happen. Who I would put in the top tier with Romney and Palin would be Mike Huckabee.
EOH: Herman Cain and Tim Pawlenty. What about them?
DB: Governor Pawlenty from Minnesota has had a dramatic impact as Governor. He has Midwest roots that give him an advantage in the Iowa Caucuses. He is sort of a member of the common sense fiscal conservative wing of the Republican Party. He doesn’t focus as much on the social issues, although he is trying to reach out to that branch of the party. He can put an incredible campaign team in place. On the other hand, he has never had to raise the kind of money necessary to run for President. Another question is whether he is tough enough and can he get enough attention. Herman Cain is the former CEO of Godfather Pizza, a true American success story, coming from working class roots in Georgia. He came out of nowhere at the Phoenix Tea Party convention and wowed that group with a thunderous speech. He is considered one of the best orators in the field of potential candidates. He would be the longest of long shots to win the nomination.
EOH: Mitt Romney?
DB: Mitt Romney has a lot of advantages. He has been there before and won a campaign for the nomination and was probably John McCain’s toughest rival. He’s got an experienced campaign team and is a proven fundraising giant. He can say he has been successful in the business world and knows how to deal with the economic problem this country is facing. He has two huge disadvantages, the health care reform law everyone hates was based closely on a Massachusetts law which was enacted during Romney’s term as governor. The second problem for many Evangelical Christian Republicans is that he is a Mormon and that is not necessarily seen as a good thing by some of the Republican base.
EOH: What are your thoughts about Mike Huckabee?
DB: He is looking good. He came out 1st in a Washington Post poll. Only three candidates got into double digits, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee. Like Romney, he has been there before and he is still popular with the conservative base and the Evangelical Christian wing. He does have some problems with his record as Governor. He was not small government oriented as some feel he needs to be. The other thing that might come back to haunt him is that he paroled a criminal while he was governor who went on to murder some police officers in Washington State.
EOH: Who do you think is the person most likely to be the Republican 2012 nominee?
DB: The Republicans feel this is the year they can beat the Democratic incumbent and they have some really strong issues to run on. The problem is who is going to beat Obama. All the candidates have flaws, there is no perfect candidate. The race is wide open. There is a reasonable chance that none of the top tier candidates will get the nomination and someone will emerge like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. To be quite honest, I have absolutely no idea.