In 2008, unless Romney and Gingrich get out of the way, the conservatives won’t be able to come up with a candidate until it is too late to raise the money to beat Giuliani in the more than 20 states that will hold their primaries on Feb. 5. Only then can the conservatives who are both acceptable and can actually win emerge from the pack and become a challenger to Rudy.
Who will have the best chance once the smoke clears? Fred Thompson is clearly the best-known, but it is easier to go from being a politician to an actor than it is to move in the other direction. After seeing Thompson play the role of a semi-hapless conservative New York district attorney so convincingly, it will be hard for voters to see him as the president.
Mike Huckabee (a former client) has an originality and creativity that will make him very attractive. He speaks, for example, about the need to control Medicaid and Medicare costs not by budget cuts but by cuts in smoking and obesity and an increased commitment to exercise. He focuses on the need to enhance education with a focus on music and art to stimulate creativity and help students compete as the entertainment industry becomes increasingly important in our economy. Sam Brownback did well in the National Conservative Political Action Committee straw poll and is showing some signs of movement; Tancredo, meanwhile, has a good issue — immigration — to ride.
But nobody is going anywhere with the bodies cluttering the road in front of them.