Yesterday I wrote about the longing for a Republican presidential candidate who could unite all factions of the conservative movement. But there is just as much truth to this Politico story: conservative elites — movement leaders, journalists, policy wonks, newspaper columnists — are pining for one of their own to get into the race. The article offers the following description of the “egghead right” and the current GOP field:
Profoundly dissatisfied with the current field, that dull ache may only grow more acute after [Paul] Ryan’s decision Monday to take himself out of the running.
The problem, in shorthand: To many conservative elites, Rick Perry is a dope, Michele Bachmann is a joke and Mitt Romney is a fraud.
Paul Ryan was an obvious candidate because he was one of us, someone who came to Congress from the Beltway conservative think tank world. We assumed voters would find his arguments compelling because we do (even though we already agreed with him). Ryan does resonate with grassroots conservatives — just ask Newt Gingrich — which can’t be said for other conservative intellectuals’ hearthrobs like Mitch Daniels and Tim Pawlenty, who registered minimal support in the polls.
Charles Krauthammer is quoted hoping that he won’t have to hear any creationism or intelligent design talk from the Republican nominee. It all makes you wonder why Jon Huntsman didn’t pursue a different strategy of selling himself to conservative publications and leaders as a right-wing thought leader early on, rather than a mainstream media darling. While Daniels and Pawlenty didn’t seem to get much mileage out of it, it certainly helped Romney from 2005 on, even if the health care law has since complicated his relationship with those who admired him in 2008.