Undeclared: GOP Presidential Hopefuls Keep Powder Dry

Posted: Sep 13, 2010 7:19 AM
Politico's Jonathan Martin and Ben Smith have a piece up addressing a question that some political observers have been pondering in recent weeks: Why haven't any Republicans formally announced an intention to challenge President Obama in the 2012 presidential election?  The ever-expanding list of potential candidates isn't exactly top secret. Names like Romney, Palin, Pawlenty, Barbour, Gingrich, Daniels, Thune, Huckabee, Santorum, and Bolton have been already been the source of speculation, yet not a single one has officially tossed his (or her) hat into the ring.  Why?  Martin and Smith lay out three explanations, but I think one far supersedes the others:
Some Republicans actually believe the biennial clich? that the present [midterm] election is the most important of their lifetime — and that the future of the republic depends on a new GOP majority that can rein in President Obama. So a White House hopeful seen as doing anything but advancing the cause would invite opprobrium.
I think this has it exactly right.  Most Republicans believe that stopping the Obama administration and Democrat-dominated Congress from advancing any more of its reckless, Left-wing agenda is the most important task facing the nation, by far.  Accomplishing this objective requires a focused, all-hands-on-deck approach from a broad center-right coalition.  If any individual decided to suck up political oxygen by unnecessarily creating the huge distraction of a presidential announcement, it would be considered an unforgivable act of selfishness that would more than offset any perceived benefit of announcing first.