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The Would-be GOP Kings
With a heavy heart, I winnow the field down for you.


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Jonah Goldberg

Cain, the former chief executive of Godfather’s Pizza, is a charismatic superstar on the Tea Party circuit and in many rank-and-file conservative circles. An African-American who likes to joke about his  “dark-horse candidacy,” he’s a lot more than merely a sane Alan Keyes. But it’s hard to imagine him amounting to more than an exciting also-ran.

Johnson, the former New Mexico governor and a keynoter at last weekend’s KushCon II, will focus attention on pot legalization. Meanwhile, Santorum, a former senator, will focus attention on Rick Santorum.

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That leaves us with a top tier of five front-runners: Romney, Palin, Gingrich, Pawlenty, and Daniels. Romney is the organizational front-runner; Daniels is the first pick of wonks and D. C. eggheads; Palin probably has the most devoted following among actual voters; Gingrich will dominate the debates; and Pawlenty (vying with Daniels) is the least disliked.

And, of course, all of this is subject to change.

(Full disclosure: Jessica Gavora, an author and speechwriter, not to mention my wife, has worked with Gingrich and, more recently, Palin. The views expressed here are my own.)

— Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. © 2010 Tribune Media Services, Inc.



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