Campaign 2012: Tom Whalen grades the GOP candidates

November 4th, 2011

Tom Whalen, associate professor of social science and an expert on American politics and the American presidency, grades the slate of GOP presidential candidates as we approach the one year out point of the election:

Mitt Romney — B+. He’s the no-nonsense Jack Webb choice of the Republican field: “Just the facts, ma’am.” Although at times he can sound monotone and come across robotic on the campaign trail, Romney has shown some solid poise and, dare I say, grace in the debates. If he can be less HAL 9000 and more Deval Patrick (on a good day), he’ll win going away.

Herman Cain — B-. By far the most interesting and compelling story of the campaign season to date, the former Godfather’s Pizza honcho has gained great political traction among his party’s conservative faithful with his elegantly simple 9-9-9 tax overhaul scheme. He’s also a terrific speaker with a charismatic personality befitting the radio talk show host he was. If not for the shocking sex allegation charges that have arisen of late, he would be a sure bet to battle Romney all the way to the convention for the GOP nomination. Look for his candidacy to melt away before the winter show of New Hampshire does.

Rick Perry — C-. Like baseball’s much vaunted Texas Rangers heading into the World Series, Perry was tagged as an early favorite to win it all. But a funny thing happened on the way to collecting the victory laurels. In the Rangers case, they ran into some unexpectedly great pitching by the St. Louis Cardinals. As for Perry, he unfortunately opened his mouth. I don’t want to say that the Lone Star governor is completely deficient in the political smarts department, but he makes Jughead from the Archie comic books look like a mensa candidate by comparison. Romney made mincemeat of him in the debates. And mincemeat he will remain until he finally decides to drop out after the South Carolina primary.

Michele Bachmann — Incomplete. Didn’t she disappear from the race a few months ago? At least, it seems that way by her inability to generate any buzz for her candidacy. That giant sucking sound you hear is the air going out of the Tea Party movement.

Newt Gingrich — F. Other than the ego gratification and free airline food, can anyone tell me why the former Speaker of the House is still in the race?

Jon Huntsman — F. Jon who???

Contact Whalen at 978-888-3131;

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