The conventional wisdom is that Barack Obama is now unbeatable in the 2012 Presidential race because he has finally put the birth certificate and Osama bin Laden issues to rest — and because there are so far no strong GOP candidates on the horizon.
Not so fast. Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, and Michele Bachmann may not seem exciting enough conservatives to give Obama a run for his money, so insiders are now thinking outside the box for potential White House candidates. Among the exciting prospects:
George H.W. Bush: He still has four more years of eligibility. True, he’s 87 years old, but 87 is the new 77, and Ronald Reagan was 78 when he left office. Bush Sr.’s star has risen since losing to Bill Clinton and jumping out of an airplane at 80. He proved he works well with Democrats after he and Clinton teamed up to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina. Moreover, after George W. Bush’s eight years, George Sr. looks twice as good as he did in office. If son Jeb is not available, the old man might well be open to be drafted. Four years is too long not to have a Bush in office.
Ross Perot: He hasn’t been in the news a lot lately, true, but he’s still feisty, rich, outspoken and excitable, even if nobody quotes him anymore. He would bring some pizzazz to an otherwise bland roster of GOP candidates. At the very least, Perot is certain to throw a good scare into the Democrats and, maybe best of all, restore Dana Carey’s career.
Steve Forbes: Like Perot, he’s kept a low profile lately and, though still a terminally boring speaker, his radical tax plan has gained new luster since the economy tanked. The deficit and the budget are suddenly very sexy issues. Forbes hasn’t talked about running, but he may just be acting coy and might be coaxed out of hiding to take on the President, whose glamour boy image may work to Forbes’s credit as Mr. Un-excitement.
Todd Palin: Perhaps not the most likely name that leaps to mind, but, hey, why not? He’s attractive and married to a woman who is catnip to the media. While lacking certain governance skills, Palin has shown himself cool under fire and is able to manage a maverick wife and crazy daughter while also proving he can exert firm control behind a dog team. If that’s not enough, John McCain is said to be ready to endorse him.
Chuck Norris: Fading movie stars make by far the best Republican politicians – Ronald Reagan, George Murphy, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Shirley Temple — so Norris could be a shoo-in, especially on a macho ticket with Tom Selleck. They would line up favorably against Obama, towering over him in TV debates. If Norris declines to run, there’s still a wide open field of conservative star prospects – Kelsey Grammer, Jon Voight, Heather Locklear, James Caan, Cheryl Ladd and Craig T. Nelson. Clint Eastwood, 80, and Ernest Borgnine, 92, are probably a tad elderly to appeal to the electorate, but Ron Paul, a serious but spry contender, is 75.
Lamar Alexander: Many people, even Republicans, are surprised to learn that he’s still around – not only alive and well but a Senator from Tennessee. He ran for President in 1996 and 2000, so the man is battle-tested. He’s tanned, rested and ready, and looks good to go, especially in a plaid shirt with a hunting rifle under his arm. Don’t write him off too quickly. Alexander stands out in a field of even darker horses.
Dennis Miller: He’s the liveliest speaker among potential GOP candidates, or at least the most intentionally comical. It didn’t hurt Al Franken (D-Minn.). Miller has years of experience before audiences delivering amusing rants and can be counted on to draw good crowds, rev up his Comedy Central base and provide much funnier sound bites than Obama.
Joe the Plumber: Joe still has about two minutes of fame left and could make the most of them if he ran for President. He hasn’t been heard from much since the 2008 race, probably because of a news blackout by the media, who finally abandoned him when it turned out he didn’t have a plumber’s license or possibly even a wrench.
Edward Brooke: The first modern-day Republican black Senator is now 91 but could prove a formidable foe against Barack Obama as a Massachusetts alternative to ex-governor Mitt Romney. Brooke hasn’t held office since he retired in 1979 but he could really make things hot for the country’s first black President. The only possible down side is that he once had an affair with Barbara Walters, but at 91 that can only enhance his chances.