“In an interview with CNN in 2009, as Washington was debating President Barack Obama’s health care proposal, Romney said portions of the Massachusetts law could serve as a model for the country.
“‘I think there are a number of features in the Massachusetts plan that could inform Washington on ways to improve health care for all Americans,’ Romney told CNN. ‘The fact that we were able to get people insured without a government option is a model I think they can learn from.’…
“But in that 2009 interview, Romney clearly defended the mandate, referring to it as a ‘requirement’ that allowed Massachusetts residents to secure a ‘tax exemption.’ In other words, if they didn’t sign up for health insurance, residents would get hit with a tax.”
“First Lady Michelle Obama gets the warmest rating, with a 60.1 degree mean score, more than 3 degrees hotter than fourth-place President Barack Obama, when American voters rate their feelings about politicians and other national figures in a Quinnipiac University national thermometer poll released today. New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie is the hottest politician on the thermometer.”
JL: What are the considerations at the moment? What are the things that you are weighing up?
SP: Well, understanding that Obama has already said he’s going to rake in and spend $1bn (£615.4m) in this race. Money is certainly going to be a consideration. And then just the idea of, will the American electorate be ready for someone a bit unconventional, in terms of a candidate who will call it like she sees it, and who will not be beholden to special interests or such obsessive partisanship as to let a political machine get in the way of just doing what’s right for the voters.
JL: In a sense, do you think your “unconventionality” in that sense, the fact that you tell it as it is, is your strength but is also perceived as a weakness as well?
SP: I believe that it is a strength. I tell my kids, I encourage everyone I know that whether it be in their workplace, whether it be in a political arena or within their own families, to do what their gut tells them to do. And that involves calling it like they see it and tackling the tasks that are at hand and not worrying so much what other people are thinking or saying about them. And a lot of that goes along with that unconventional vein that I am talking about, that independent vein that I have within me. So I think that it’s a strength and I encourage people I know to exercise that strength, too.
“Let us not mince words. There are at most five plausible Republican presidents on the horizon – Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, former Utah governor and departing ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, former Massachusetts governor Romney and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty.
“So the Republican winnowing process is far advanced. But the nominee may emerge much diminished by involvement in a process cluttered with careless, delusional, egomaniacal, spotlight-chasing candidates to whom the sensible American majority would never entrust a lemonade stand, much less nuclear weapons.”
“Once again, we have to be reminded of a few things. First, the candidate for president who won in 1992 didn’t declare his intention to seek office until the fall of 1991. Second, Barack Obama declared his candidacy in February 2007 and promptly wasted six months of money and energy and bad debating appearances. He gained no traction against Hillary Clinton. It wasn’t until October that he actually figured out how to run, and he might have spared himself the trouble if he’d waited until then.
“So what does this tell us? It tells us that the person who can win has either not reached the point of deciding to run or that he is biding his time until later. It could be Chris Christie. It could be Paul Ryan. It could be Marco Rubio. It could be Bobby Jindal. One hears that the 2016 GOP race will feature all these guys in a superstar battle. If that one could, so could this one. And there’s plenty of time. Plenty.”
“With such a large number of undecided voters, the 2012 nominating fight is looking more and more likely to be a momentum contest. Most Republican voters are looking for someone to like but haven’t found anyone yet.
“That’s a similar dynamic to what happened in the 2004 Democratic presidential primary when former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean went from nowhere to the race’s frontrunner thanks to the relative lack of energy for anyone in the rest of the field. Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, who picked up the pieces of Dean’s eventual implosion, used that same momentum premise to effectively end the race after back to back victories in Iowa and New Hampshire.
“Could 2012 be the Republican version of what happened to Democrats in 2004?”