Mitt Romney has about as much charm as a Ziploc bag, and his support for Romneycare in Massachusetts should immediately put him out of the running. Though brilliant, Newt Gingrich is chameleonic and impossible to peg down to principle; therefore, he's unacceptable to many primary voters. Sarah Palin is polarizing; Haley Barbour bears too strong a resemblance to Deputy Dawg; Mike Huckabee isn't interested in running, and his religious background makes him a beloved target of the secular press; Tim Pawlenty makes Ben Stein seem colorful.
The Republican field has not been this wide open since ... well, since 2008. Sadly, the intervening three years have not cleared up any questions.
If Republicans were to construct an ideal candidate, he would have to be rich beyond belief -- Obama is going to raise $1 billion for his next election campaign, and no Republican candidate has the ability to come close to those numbers without deep pockets. The ideal Republican candidate would have significant name recognition with the general public -- no Republican candidate has ever won the presidency without significant name recognition going into the primaries since Warren G. Harding in 1920. The ideal Republican candidate would have stage presence, an intimidation factor, and a willingness to play dirty.
In the last several weeks, that ideal Republican candidate has materialized.
His name is Donald Trump. His slogan is ready-made: "You're Fired." He does not give a damn what the media thinks of him -- he steamrolled Meredith Vieira during his NBC interview with her last week. He can self-fund to the tune of $1 billion.
And what's more, he can win.
Pay no attention to the recent polls showing Obama crushing Trump by 20 points in a head-to-head matchup. That disparity is attributable to the public perception that Trump is a loudmouth with no true interest in running. The moment he declares in earnest and gets on the campaign stump, his numbers will rise dramatically.
Trump has across-the-board appeal. His show, "The Apprentice," routinely draws nearly 9 million viewers per episode. Blue-collar workers identify with Trump's rough-and-tumble attitude. He even has union support -- he's made a political mint bashing outsourcing, and he recently told Human Events that he has made "many billions of dollars working with the unions," though he does not disagree that public sector unions bilk taxpayers.
Trump's image boils down to this: he's a no-nonsense businessman who is brash enough to take on Obama directly. He's big enough to stand toe-to-toe with Obama and slug it out.
The biggest question that surrounds Trump of late is his focus on the question of Obama's birth certificate. Trump has stated routinely and openly that he wonders whether Obama was born in the United States, and he has called on Obama to release his birth certificate. This has earned him the ire and scorn of Obama's lackeys, who say he has "zero chance" of getting elected.
In reality, the birth certificate issue is specifically geared toward certain political ends for Trump. First, it is obviously calculated to attract the most anti-Obama segment of the conservative base -- and it has already succeeded, if primary polling is any indicator. Second, it is designed to force Obama into defending his character -- Trump has already suggested that at best, Obama refuses to come clean with the American people. Finally, it shows Obama that if Trump is nominated, the campaign will not be a McCain-style hands-off lovefest. It will be a knockdown drag-out brawl. Trump will stop emphasizing the birth certificate issue, to be sure, but not until he's milked it for all it is worth.
Is Donald Trump the best Republican candidate for president out there? It would be tough to argue otherwise. He's got all the makings of a breakout star; he's got bravado and the cash to back it up. If he really runs, he won't have any trouble finding supporters. And as he puts it, he is the Obama administration's "worst nightmare." So far, who can argue with him?