“Republican leaders, activists and donors, anxious that the party’s initial presidential field could squander a chance to capture grass-roots energy and build a strong case against President Obama at the outset of the 2012 race, are stepping up appeals for additional candidates to jump in, starting with Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana…

“The first contests of the primary are at least eight months away, and most of the candidates have yet to fully open their campaigns, but some party leaders worry that Republicans are making a bad first impression by appearing tentative about their prospects against Mr. Obama and allowing Donald J. Trump to grab headlines in the news vacuum of the race’s early stages.

“‘The race needs more responsible adults who can actually do the job,’ said Fergus Cullen, a former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party…

“To some degree the disquiet about the field reflects tensions between the party establishment and the Tea Party movement about substance and style, with the newly influential grass-roots conservatives more comfortable with provocative messages, unconventional approaches and new faces than their establishment counterparts.”

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“A ‘fringe’ nominee is unlikely. Democrats are hoping that the Republicans nominate somebody like Barry Goldwater, who satisfied the right wing but alienated independent and moderately Republican voters in 1964. However, that has not happened since the AuH2O candidacy, in large part because primaries now dominate the nomination process. That tends to reduce the influence of the most ideologically committed voters, as a broader cross-section of the electorate participates in primaries than party caucuses. Goldwater – who won the nomination in 1964 because of depth of support, rather than breadth – would probably not have been able to pull it out if the rules of today had been in place back then. His victory depended on his loyal supporters taking control of state and local party organizations, but these units are no longer in charge of the nomination.

“This is why, since the party reforms of the 1970s, most Republican nominees have been downright ‘boring.’ George H. W. Bush, Bob Dole, George W. Bush, and John McCain have been the selections in the last 20 years – and even Ronald Reagan was not really an insurgent in 1980. By that point, he had served for two terms as governor of the largest state in the union, and had stood for the GOP nomination twice already. In all likelihood, the nominee in 2012 will be similar to the ones we’ve seen over the last 30 years.”

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“Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) would be the ‘perfect pick’ for the Republican presidential nominee in 2012, said Tea Party figurehead and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas).

“Armey, in a video posted Friday to the website of the conservative magazine Newsmax, effused praise for Daniels and expressed a preference for one of the other former governors expected to join the race as a possible alternative

“‘I do think we have to look to the governors,’ he said. ‘But once again, the experience of the governors that have really grappled with budgets and dealt with them — right now I think is what we’re looking for.'”

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“Asked in a public question-and-answer session about his past support for a cap-and-trade-like program limiting carbon emissions, Pawlenty answered: ‘It was a mistake, it was stupid and I’m sorry.’…

“‘I don’t try to defend it. Everybody’s got a couple of clunkers in their record,’ Pawlenty continued, repeating: ‘I don’t try to defend it. It was dumb.’

“To the audience in Manchester, the maneuver was obvious. Pawlenty wasn’t just offering one more recanting of his past support for an environmental policy that’s unpopular with conservatives. He also was preemptively drawing a contrast with Mitt Romney, who has declined to apologize for signing a universal health care law as governor of Massachusetts.”

Via Gateway Pundit:

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“Romney remains an exceptionally unnatural public speaker. To convey passion and excitement, he raises the pitch of his voice and imbues it with urgency. But it never quite clicks. His tone and affect are like that of an adult doing a dramatic reading of a pirate story to a wide-eyed three year old. It doesn’t help that he speaks too quickly and often trips over his lines. At points during his speech, Romney seemed to slip into a frenzy and start madly free associating economic buzzwords…

“Romney seemed so panicked by the slip up that he rushed ahead to explain how gas prices were set, and briefly and inadvertently shed his ‘candidate’ persona and reverted to ‘businessman’–and then he gave a cogent and authoritative mini-briefing on how prices are set by the expectation of future supply and demand, and thus could be brought down with the right energy policy. No pandering, no buzzword, no mawkish invocation of American exceptionalism. If that Romney were ever to emerge for a sustained period, it’s hard to imagine who could challenge him for the nomination.”

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