On Good Morning America this morning, former President Bill Clinton had (kind of) kind things to say about GOP presidential frontrunners former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, he said, is “doing a better job as a candidate this time than he did four years ago. [He] comes across as more relaxed and more convicted about what he did do, less willing to just be forced into apologizing for it because it violates some part of his party orthodoxy.”
He claimed not to be surprised by the early success of Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn, because, “I’ve been watching her speak, you know, she comes across as a real person. … The story that they tell is pretty compelling, all those foster children she’s taken in, and children she’s raised and the work she’s done.”
Not surprisingly, he also had praise for the MSM favorite, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (you know, because, polling at an average of 1.7 percent, he makes a natural addition to any assessment of “the leaders of the pack”).
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, he said, “did a very nice, a good job for America as ambassador to China. I think he’s quite an impressive man. He’s got an impressive family. I had the honor of meeting one of his children once and having a conversation with her. I think that he’s refreshingly, kind of, unhide-bound. Just comes across as non-ideological — conservative, but non-ideological, practical.”
Earlier in the segment, Clinton highlighted what he’s looking for in a GOP candidate. “The ones I liked are the ones that you think are more moderate,” he said, “’cause I think they’re a little more connected to the real world. And I think they’ll be — they’d be formidable. … But I’m afraid if I say anything nice about them, they’ll lose, for sure.”
Obviously, electability is both tricky and critical: The GOP has to pick a candidate who can win in the general election. But to gauge who can win, I’d rather the GOP look to the electorate and not to somebody like Clinton, the ultimate politician, whose agenda doesn’t exactly match the conservative platform.
After all, Clinton’s not actually afraid moderate candidates will lose the GOP nomination — he’s afraid the GOP will pick someone who can unseat Obama (and that person, I’d argue, is unlikely to be a milquetoast moderate — and very likely to be whichever candidate most clearly articulates a message that resonates with the values of American voters). If Democrats like Clinton and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could only pick our candidate, they’d pick whoever will bow to Obama most obsequiously, whoever will surrender most readily.
Interestingly, Clinton said nothing about former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, whose position in the polls arguably most resembles Clinton’s at this point in the 1992 Democratic primaries. Perhaps he kept silent because he knows better than anybody Pawlenty could come from behind and win over the public with solid likability, a consistent message and true conservative credibility.
So, two very obvious ideas Clinton should keep in mind if he plans to comment moving forward: 1) The GOP primaries are for GOP voters to decide and 2) Romney and Bachmann might be at the top, and a Huntsman nomination might be on libs’ wish list, but those three aren’t the only candidates in the race.