“Some bright, talented, and highly qualified Republicans are thinking about running for president. Haley Barbour of Mississippi, Mitch Daniels of Indiana, Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts—all current or former governors—are eminently capable. Regardless of whether you like or agree with them, they are worthy of consideration for the Republican nomination.

“How demoralizing it must be, then, for them to look at national polling that shows Donald Trump tied for first place for the GOP nomination…

‘It’s downright embarrassing,’ confessed one former Republican House member, when apprised of the results. Of course, Trump’s chances of winning the GOP nomination are exceedingly remote, to say the least, and his poll numbers are all about name recognition. Anyone assuming that the reality-show host’s interest in running for president is just another one of his publicity stunts would not likely be wrong. But what does it say about the Republican Party or, for that matter, the American people that this guy gets a second glance? Could a Jersey Shore personality be far behind?”

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“What accounts for Trump’s (likely temporary) spot on top of the polls? It is not, contrary to conventional wisdom, his loony indulgence of the Obama ‘birther’ movement. No one really takes that seriously, probably not even him. I suspect something larger is at work.

“As they did with Lee Iacocca in the ’80s and then with H. Ross Perot—who might well have become president in 1992 if he hadn’t appeared to be a lunatic—Americans long for a straight-talking businessman who can save the country from the political class that fouled everything up. The recent budget battle is only the latest sign of the cluelessness of Washington culture. Only in the nation’s capital could a group of people bicker for weeks over reducing the federal budget by either 1 percent or 2 percent, agree to do nothing about entitlement programs that will soon bankrupt us, and then get hailed by each other and by much of the media—from MSNBC to Fox—as courageous budget cutters. Trump appears to offer something more than yawn-inducing grandstanding to a fed-up populace.

“He drew wild reviews for his debut speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference from a savvy, if eccentric, batch of political junkies who’d become accustomed to a procession of wax-museum dummies as potential nominees. Washington is full of Mitt Rombots now: the calculated passion, the dreary buzzwords, the obligatory homage to Ronald Reagan, the by-the-numbers attacks on Obama and liberals. Trump did something else at CPAC—he told people what he thought, apparently without making any use of a pollster.”

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“When pressed repeatedly if he would rule out the possibility of running with Trump, the Republican House freshman did not say that the idea was off the table.

“‘Who knows what’s going to happen,’ West said when asked if he’d accept a veep invitation from Trump. ‘If the people think that I have an ability to continue my service of my country in a different capacity, first of all we gotta talk to God, we gotta talk to my family, we gotta talk to the constituents.'”

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