While none of the GOP presidential candidates are far-and-away winners, what distinguishes McCain/Romney/Giuliani from the other three is the difference between Bs and Cs. McCain, Romney, and Giuliani have substantial resumes with notable successes. McCain and Giuliani have, or have had, some measure of national prominence or popularity. Romney’s business record and successful campaign in a tough state for a Republican recommend him to those who write checks.
Gilmore, Huckabee, and Brownback are virtual unknowns who look good in small groups in D.C. But they are all career pols having difficulty distinguishing themselves. Why? Gilmore doesn’t stir much more enthusiasm in Virginia than George Allen does. Huckabee’s prime virtue, even in light of his gubernatorial record, is that he lost lots of weight. These two have long toyed with campaigns, but were late to the game. I like Brownback, but I don’t think social conservatives’ national stock is on the rise.
The latter three are not altogether awful candidates, and the former three are not spectacular. But it is clear that Gilmore and Huckabee, at least, are pretenders. Brownback is a longshot issue candidate who will hopefully “change the discussion,” as they say. Apologies to their fans, but the guys are trading on personality and not much in the way of records.